Nahanni Park Expansion a Crown Jewel for the Boreal

Nahanni National Park Reserve is officially expanding. The federal government, Dehcho First Nations, and the Government of the NWT have all signed off on new park boundaries that encompass most of the South Nahanni River watershed. This permanent protection marks a large – 30,000 square km – step forward in protecting Canada’s boreal forest.

From the Canadian Boreal Initiative:

Nahanni National Park Reserve is especially known for its awe-inspiring Virginia Falls (Nailicho), which are twice as high as Niagara Falls. “This park expansion is a big day for conservation—but the fact that it was done in partnership with First Nations makes it all the more exciting,” said Larry Innes, CBI’s executive director. First established in 1972, Nahanni National Park Reserve became the first site recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1978 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The new boundaries will greatly increase secure habitat for wide-ranging and sensitive species like woodland caribou, grizzly bears, mountain goats, and Dall’s sheep. Protecting this watershed and connecting it to other areas in the region will help ensure a healthy Boreal ecosystem for future generations.

The South Nahanni watershed is of cultural and traditional importance for Dene peoples. Parks Canada worked extensively with the Dehcho First Nations in bringing forward the new boundaries, and has committed to establishing a companion national park, to be called Naats’ihch’oh with the Sahtu First Nations to protect the balance of the region. Parks Canada is also engaged in consultations with neighbouring Kaska Dena in the Yukon about these initiatives.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society has also been able to declare victory in their Nahanni campaign:

“The Nahanni is the jewel of Canada’s Boreal forest, and one of the world’s greatest wilderness treasures. Canada has shown true global leadership by protecting it,” says CPAWS National Executive Director Eric Hébert-Daly.

“With this announcement the federal government has created a national park that can take its place alongside Banff and Jasper as one of the world’s great protected areas,” says Harvey Locke, CPAWS Senior Advisor for Conservation.

The boreal forest is a green necklace across Canada’s North, stretching from the Yukon Territory to the Labrador coast. The newly expanded Nahanni National Park Reserve is a bright jewel in that necklace.