Protected Areas Grow But Still In Infancy

News Release: August 13, 2004

The Alberta Ministry of Community Development has
announced the creation of a new protected area in
Alberta and altered two other areas to increase their
ecological value. Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA)
applauds the announcement but warns protection of
Alberta's wilderness is still in its infancy and that
protected areas require firmer legislative controls.

"We are encouraged whenever the government takes
steps to protect important wild spaces in Alberta,"
says Jason Unger, AWA Conservation Specialist.
"We feel the Minister is showing the right initiative in
having these areas protected and are hopeful that the
department will continue naming protected areas so
that representative landscapes across the province
are protected."

The Alberta Government will designate a 166 hectares
area west of Lac La Biche as the Garner Orchid Fen
Natural Area. Along with the Natural Area designation
the government announced a land trade in and adjacent
to Dinosaur Provincial Park and an amendment to the
boundary of Wagner Natural Area east of Spruce Grove.

AWA's support for the protected areas is not without
qualification. "The new Garner "protected area" is
named as a Natural Area, a designation that leaves
many questions about whether it is truly protected,"
says Unger. "The legislation (Wilderness Areas,
Ecological Reserves, Natural Areas and Heritage
Rangelands Act) prescribes few prohibitions in Natural
Areas, relying rather on site management of these areas.
We've seen Natural Areas in the Province that are subject
to continued industrial activity and unregulated off-highway
vehicle use."

AWA believes that legislation for protected areas must
guarantee effective conservation.

"This is a good start but a lot more needs to be done,"
says Unger. "Greater protection for natural areas of
Dry Mixedwood Boreal, Grassland, and Aspen Parkland
are required if we are to approach a semblance of
representative protected area in Alberta."

AWA believes that the extension of protected areas
makes good political sense as well. "For an overwhelming
number of Albertans wilderness makes an important
positive contribution to the quality of life they enjoy,"
says Ian Urquhart, Professor at the University of Alberta
and AWA Primrose-Lakeland Project Co-ordinator, citing
a recent survey on wilderness. "On balance, parties
advocating wilderness protection can expect to receive
more, not less, support from Albertans at the polls."

For Further Information Contact:
Jason Unger, AWA Conservation Specialist
Ph: 403-283-2025