The importance of the Peel watershed’s formal protection – Yukon

This weekend Whitehorse hosted a celebration of the Peel watershed finally seeing formal protection. Although this is huge news up here, I feel that little of the rest of Canada is aware of the importance of this protection, and what this means for the future. The Peel watershed is now the second largest protected area in North America (behind only the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), and the largest in Canada. It’s taken 15 years, a Supreme Court of Canada decision (the first of its kind), and many levels of governments, First Nations, and non-profit organisations working together to achieve this protection. This success story was possible ONLY because these groups all worked together. The precedent-setting Supreme Court of Canada decision found that the territorial government ignored its treaty obligations to protect this ecologically-sensitive area. That there is now a precedent of this sort of decision likely means greater future success for First Nations lawsuits going forward, when it comes to the environment and treaty rights. I hope to write a story on the significance of this achievement sometime in the near future.

For the CBC news release on the Peel watershed’s formal protection, see here, and for further details on the land use management plan for this area, see here.

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