Canada Moves to Protect Polar Bears
Photo by Norbert Rosing/NGS
Manitoba, Canada announced plans late last week to create two wildlife sanctuaries in the boreal forests along the northern section of Hudson Bay, a move they say will help aid in the protection of polar bears, beluga whales, caribou, ringed and bearded seals, and numerous bird populations. The two locations, known as the Kaskatamagan Sipi and Kaskatamagan Wildlife Management Areas, are increasingly becoming destinations for eco-tourists (which we’ve noted on the blog here and here, and experienced firsthand when associate editor Amy Alipio made a visit to Churchill in 2007). The plight of the bears were a topic of a 2002 story in National Geographic magazine, details of which you can find here, and several of these animals were among the ten “flagship” species designated in Copenhagen today as being affected by climate change.
Protecting 1,544 square miles of boreal forest will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. A recent study sponsored by the Boreal Songbird Initiative and the Canadian Boreal Initiative, reported on by the Nat Geo Newswatch blog here, noted that Canada’s boreal forests store nearly twice as much carbon per acre as tropical forests.
The CBC notes that the new designation means that “logging, mining, hydroelectric power development, oil and gas exploration or development, and any other activities that could significantly and adversely affect natural habitat are banned in the new protected areas.” Meanwhile, Manitoba has placed the polar bear on their endangered species list, and is in the process of upgrading a facility in Churchill that will help the bears continue to thrive.
[Nat Geo News]
- Nat Geo Expeditions