Supporters of nature, wilderness and wildlife are applauding the federal government’s historic investment of $1.3 billion over 5 years to protect more nature across Canada. This unprecedented investment will enable Canada to achieve its commitment to protect at least 17% of our land and freshwater by 2020. To date, Canada has protected 10.6% of our landscape. New Brunswick has protected 4.6 % of the province. With this level of cooperation across the country, now is the time for New Brunswick to advance beyond its current status at the back of the pack, and show leadership on both land and sea.

The New Brunswick government needs to step up to establish an action plan that will protect our crucial natural areas. This momentous decision should be a game-changer for nature conservation across Canada, including in New Brunswick. For the first time, the federal budget includes significant support for provinces, territories, and Indigenous governments’ work to establish more protected areas. This cost-shared model is similar to the way we deliver other shared priorities in Canada, such as infrastructure, climate change mitigation, and health care. Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society - New Brunswick (CPAWS NB) and our supporters are hopeful this is an opportunity for the New Brunswick government to receive much needed funding to support the creation of new protected areas in our province.

New Brunswickers need to show our decision-makers that we support strong efforts to protect more of our nature. Politicians and government leaders need to rally collective action to achieve conservations goals. We all have a role to play in protecting what is important to us. New Brunswickers depend upon natural areas for flood control, clean air and drinking water, habitat for wildlife and pollinators, and green and blue spaces for healthy outdoor recreation. Yet, we don’t have a robust action plan to protect these areas. As a result, they are being degraded and lost to expanding industrial and urban development, and growing impacts of climate change. Parks, protected areas and nature contribute millions of dollars to our provincial economy, including in rural areas. They support thousands of jobs and businesses in tourism. If we expand our opportunities to visit and explore protected nature, on land and sea, we can drive a more sustainable economy.

New Brunswickers are deeply connected to nature. It underpins our economy, culture, history, health and well-being. Nature is also our best protection from the impacts of climate change, as long as we conserve the natural resilience of our forests, rivers, wetlands and ocean.Our government has immediate opportunities to protect more of New Brunswick’s nature. A proposal is in the works, from a community level, to establish a Restigouche Wilderness Waterway - a wide protected corridor that could link up with protected forest areas along the river. This would establish a world-class ecotourism destination in rural northern New Brunswick, and protect and grow businesses that depend upon nature, such as salmon angling, canoeing, nature tours and hiking.

The government should establish protected natural areas in the largest remaining old forest habitats on Crown land, and on provincially significant wetlands and bogs. Critical for the survival of many kinds of wildlife, these rich habitats also help slow or prevent climate change impacts.
New Brunswick’s coastal shores shelter internationally important mudflats, islands and rocky beaches, so these should be part of the mix to protect our treasured natural heritage. The provincial government also needs to cooperate with the federal government to find ways of protecting the natural wonders of the Bay of Fundy, the Northumberland Strait and the Bay of Chaleur.

The budget acknowledges the leadership of Indigenous peoples in conservation across Canada. This funding will help advance their work in New Brunswick, and allow us to work together, in reconciliation, for protection of the nature that supports us all.
 © 2018 NBEN / RENB