Today, WWF-Canada extended the full international support of the WWF global network to the governments of Canada and Ontario for signing an agreement to establish the largest freshwater reserve in the world. One million hectares of western Lake Superior will become Canada’s first National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA).
“This is indeed an important day for conservation in Canada and a long-awaited victory for the residents of the North Shore,” said Mike Russill, President and CEO of WWF-Canada. “We wish to thank Minister John Baird and Minister David Ramsay for their leadership in making today’s announcement possible. For ten years, First Nations, municipal officials, canoeists, hikers, photographers, hunters, anglers, local business owners, commercial fishing interests, boaters, even the mining industry, and of course representatives from both Parks Canada and the Ministry of Natural Resources have worked toward this day. WWF has been pleased to play a supportive role from the beginning.”
In a letter of congratulations to the federal Minister of the Environment, John Baird, and provincial Minister of Natural Resources, David Ramsay, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, President Emeritus of WWF-International, said “I believe that all the people living in the area, particularly those who served as an advisory group to help achieve the protection of this immense area, have every reason to feel very proud of their invaluable contribution to the future of Canada and all its citizens.”
Prince Philip has been closely involved and monitoring the progress of negotiations for almost ten years now, urging protection through two press conferences in Canada, and awarding certificates of appreciation to local citizens who worked so hard to make today’s announcement possible.
The big water, shoreline and islands of Lake Superior are certainly among the most rugged and pristine in the world. Their beauty has been celebrated by painters such as the Group of Seven, especially Lawren Harris. Their history has been captured in song by Canadian icon Gordon Lightfoot. And thousands of Canadians experience the power of “North of Superior” every year when they travel along the shoreline on the Trans-Canada Highway. The new conservation area will bring with it new regional investment in tourism, which should strengthen the North Shore economy.
To the south, the conservation area is internationally significant because it links to Isle Royale National Park in the U.S. - a large island in the middle of Lake Superior famous for its isolated population of wolves. But Isle Royale also includes a large lake component, protecting still more freshwater.
To the north, the new conservation zone will anchor a spectacular complex of provincially-protected lands and waters, including: the Nipigon River, renowned for world-record speckled trout; Lake Nipigon, where endangered woodland caribou calve on secluded islands; and Wabakimi Wilderness Park, another million hectares of woodlands and wintering areas for those same caribou.
“It’s a great day for peregrine falcons, eagles, osprey, bears, wolves, caribou and of course, those deep cold-water fish like lake trout, whitefish and walleye that school in the sparkling clear water unparalleled anywhere,” said Monte Hummel, President Emeritus of WWF-Canada and one-time canoe guide in the area. “This is the kind of natural wonder that makes Canada the envy of the world, and we do well to protect it for future generations, everywhere.”
Protected areas like the Lake Superior NMCA are a critical and often overlooked tool to help conserve our freshwater resources, and must be applied together with a comprehensive strategy to address all threats to water levels and water quality.
- 30 -
Available for comment:
Steven Price Senior Director, Conservation Policy, Planning and Partnership WWF-Canada 416-484-7713 cell: 647-400-9573 firstname.lastname@example.org