Why Are Protected Areas Important?
In 1992, Canada's federal, provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for Environment, Parks and Wildlife met to discuss Canada's networks of protected areas. They unanimously affirmed that Canada has a special global responsibility to protect its natural heritage given that Canada is steward of almost 20% of the planet's wilderness, 20% of its fresh water, and 24% of its remaining wetlands (A Statement of Commitment To Complete Canada's Networks of Protected Areas: Nov. 25, 1992).
Canada is one of the few nations that still has an opportunity to represent its natural regions and features, and to conserve its critical wildlife habitat. With rapid global population growth and continued development pressures, local citizens, First Nations, environmentalists, corporate and government leaders have recognized the need for modern society to take a precautionary approach as stewards of land and water.
The more we learn about the environment and our impacts on it, the more the words of renowned plant ecologist Frank Egler need reflection:
isn't more complex than we think,
it is more complex than we can think."
Therefore, by establishing a network of protected areas, Manitobans do their part to fulfill the national commitment. This also ensures that representative examples and the unique areas of our diverse landscapes are maintained in our network of protected areas to:
- conserve biological diversity including natural gene pools,
- maintain ecological processes and the natural cycles required for life on earth,
- act as scientific benchmarks to evaluate environmental change,
- balance development needs in a sustainable society.
This commitment to establish protected areas is not only for today. Future generations will also be able to experience, appreciate and enjoy nature, and to understand the ecological processes that all life depends on.