Fantastic news, now down to the details: Corbett on province doubling protected natural areas by 2020

Years of work, guidance and leadership from conservation groups in New Brunswick finally came to fruition earlier this month as the provincial government announced a commitment to double the amount of protected land and water in New Brunswick by 2020. The move will increase the total percentage of protected areas in New Brunswick from 4.6 per cent (the second-worst in Canada) to 10 per cent, with funding support of $9.3 million under the federal government’s Canada Nature Fund.

“It’s a good day for nature conservation,” Lois Corbett, the Conservation Council’s Executive Director, told the New Brunswick TelegraphJournal following Minister Mike Holland’s announcement at Fundy National Park on Monday, Oct 28.  Corbett noted, however, that we still need to know exactly which areas are slated for protection before we can truly throw our hands up in celebration.

“We’ve gone from the worst in terms of protection for nature on land in the province to pretty much squarely in the middle,” Corbett told reporters. “What this is about is protecting unique species, old-growth forests, mountainsides, much wider buffer zones along our fish-bearing streams to keep them cold so the fish can reproduce. So we need to get it down in the weeds on where these hectares will be.”

In a statement published on the same say, the province says the final details surrounding which natural areas will be slated for protection will be released after they consults with First Nations communities, environmental groups on the ground, and the forestry industry.

“When you start at the back of the pack it’s actually not that hard to put aside some more protected area,” Corbett said in an interview with CBC New Brunswick. “The proof in that will be in the minister’s next step, which will hopefully be in December, when he goes about changing and modernizing the Crown Lands and Forest Act.”

Digging deeper into the topic with CBC New Brunswick and Huddle, Corbett pointed to wetlands as prime targets for conservation, especially considering the province’s efforts to curtail the increasing costs of flood damages, which reached a whopping $74 million last year.

“We got this wake-up call from Hurricane Arthur and Hurricane Dorian, from the ice storm and the two big floods of the St. John River,” Corbett told Huddle. “We need to have our wetlands and our land protect us.”

This sentiment was also echoed in a joint statement applauding protected areas commitment from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – New Brunswick chapter, the Conservation Council of New Brunswick,, Nature NB, the Nature Trust of New Brunswick, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

While many groups have worked on increasing protected natural areas in the province for many years, the Conservation Council would like to give a special shout-out and thank you to Roberta Clowater and her team at CPAWS NB. Without Roberta’s leadership, dedication and tenacity to see this file through, this month’s announcement would not have happened.

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