June 02, 2009 10:00 ET

WWF Welcomes Progress on Ontario Far North Initiative

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 2, 2009) - Today, as the Ontario Government tabled the Far North Planning Act, WWF-Canada strongly supported Premier McGuinty's conservation and economic development vision for the province's Far North.

The area constitutes 43 per cent of the province, including intact boreal forests, pristine Arctic rivers and watersheds, and saltwater coastlines of James and Hudson Bay. These northern habitats harbour everything from species at risk such as woodland caribou and wolverines, through to a super-abundance of ducks, geese, and shorebirds inhabiting internationally-recognized wetlands.

"This Act stands to make a precedent-setting contribution to freshwater conservation, help build ecosystem resilience in a changing climate, and protect huge natural carbon reserves in boreal peat lands," said Monte Hummel, President Emeritus of WWF-Canada.

"It will be great if the new Bill legally enshrines protecting at least 50 per cent of the area-- some 225,000 square kilometers. In fact, that would be the largest conservation commitment in Canadian history," said Mr. Hummel. "And we certainly hope the legislation will establish community land use plans as the primary vehicle for bringing about these conservation gains as well as new economic prosperity for the people who live there. It's very important that they drive the whole process."

"We believe there needs to be a genuine shared authority between Ontario and First Nations to do this properly. That's why WWF will be working with First Nations, other conservation groups, and industries such as mining, water power, and tourism, to ensure that northerners play a leadership role. For example, we could work on this together through the committee hearing process over the summer," Mr. Hummel emphasized.

WWF also encouraged the Province to commit new funding to initiate land use planning in some northern communities, and to move planning ahead in others where it has already begun.

About WWF-Canada

WWF was established in 1961 and operates in more than 100 countries, with over five million supporters worldwide. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature by conserving the world's biological diversity; ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable; and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. WWF-Canada's top priorities are fighting climate change, the single biggest environmental threat to our planet; and conserving our oceans and freshwater resources. WWF-Canada's main office is in Toronto, with regional conservation offices located in Vancouver, Prince Rupert, St. Albert, Ottawa, Halifax and St. John's.

For more information, visit www.wwf.ca.

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