Advocating for Wildlife
The Canadian Wildlife Federation was only eight years old, when, in 1970, we began advocating in earnest for protections for Canada’s Arctic. That year, the organization was instrumental in establishing the federal Task Force on Northern Development, a far-reaching and ambitious national project to learn about and prevent damage being done to northern ecosystems as a result of resource development. That same year, after several devastating oil spills, CWF led a successful campaign for a moratorium on the transportation of dangerous pollutants through the Northwest Passage. Over the next decade, we took the lead on calling for action to protect polar bears, caribou, narwhals and several other northern species.
We have been advocating, with you and for you, to ensure responsible stewardship of the North ever since. One important element of our advocacy is Canadian Wildlife magazine. By sharing with you the wonder and beauty of our country’s wild areas, the issues they face and the work underway to protect them, this magazine plays a vital role in conservation in Canada. This issue features some important elements of the flora and fauna of this extraordinary part of Canada, which occupies more than onethird of our country’s land mass. Not only is this region essential to maintaining the health of the planet, it is in the midst of tremendous change: temperatures are rising here faster than anywhere, and as ice recedes, resource development is increasing, and the Northwest Passage is becoming a viable shipping route. There is much to be done to ensure that we do it right.
Right now there is important work underway to secure a thoughtful and responsible path to land use in a large area of the North. I draw your attention to one of the most heartening: Alanna Mitchell’s column on the ongoing work being done to develop a comprehensive land use plan for Nunavut. It may sound dry, of interest only to the policy minded, but it is not. As the column demonstrates, this complex (she calls it “messy”) exercise could be a model for the planet in engaging diverse communities to ensure responsible development while fostering biodiversity and environmental protections. And shifting perspectives from the overall landscape to a single, unique plant, the Field Guide section of this issue celebrates the hairy braya, a modest yet hardy member of the mustard family. It clings to existence on the northernmost point of mainland continental North America, a strange place with perpetually smoking hills that features in both the tragic first voyage of Sir John Franklin and the fantastic science fiction of Jules Verne. I find it fascinating that a sample gathered in the 1820s can still be seen in the Kew Garden herbarium near London. This one plant profile captures something of what the Canadian Arctic is all about, and why it is so captivating.
This issue also celebrates this year’s recipients of the Canadian Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Awards (p. 42). While each of us does our parts, I am inspired and humbled by the stories of these seven diverse and distinct individuals and organizations that have contributed mightily to the conservation of wilderness in Canada. They are an inspiration. I encourage you to help us celebrate their work, to continue doing your part and perhaps to start thinking now about conservation heroes you know to nominate for next year’s awards.
Rick J. Bates CEO, Canadian Wildlife Federation