(CBC News - image credit)
The Alberta government plans create the largest contiguous protected boreal forest area in the world by expanding the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland in the northeast part of the province.
Under the plan, the wildland area would be expanded by 143,800 hectares, Premier Jason Kenney said Thursday at a news conference.
"For generations, Albertans have found beauty and pride in the stunning natural landscapes across our province," Kenney said. "Alberta's sweeping prairies, the rolling foothills, the majestic mountain vistas have inspired countless works of art and have brought tourists here from all around the world.
"And Alberta's government has taken significant steps to make sure that these treasures are both celebrated and preserved. But it's often easy to forget that more than half of our entire province is covered with boreal forest.
"These lush green areas have provided homes and habitat for native species for generations, long before humans arrived on this land. And because of what we are announcing today, they'll continue to do so for generations to come."
In 2019, the province established the Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland. The park currently covers more than 160,000 hectares of land.
The expanded area of the park located between the Birch River Wildland Provincial Park and existing Kitaskino Nuwenëné Wildland, south of Wood Buffalo National Park.
The boreal forest is home to many species closely associated with Alberta, such as moose, bears, river otters and wood bison, and has supplied traditional medicines for Indigenous people for thousands of years, Kenney said.
"And because they sit atop the oil and gas resources that have driven our modern economy, both government and industry have made it a priority fully to restore these lands once work is completed.
"In short, these lands, particularly the boreal forest, are a part of who we are."