Lower Athabasca Regional Plan: Conservation areas mean something

Lower Athabasca Regional Plan: Conservation areas mean something

9/2/2011

Draft Lower Athabasca Regional Plan has barely been public for a week and already the criticisms sound familiar: Conservation areas are based more on low value energy resources than high value wildlife habitat. Even then existing energy leases can be renewed.  Delaying a biodiversity strategy is the order of the day.  For all the public process, some decisions were made in advance. The Terms of Reference for the Lower Athabasca did not provide for any scenario where oil sands extraction would slow down.

The real question is what features of a plan for this unique region are relevant to the other six. From that perspective, the types of conservation areas are what matters.  The Regulatory Details Plan, the only part of the Regional Plan intended to be legally binding, creates six new conservation areas.  Four will be parks managed by the Minister of Tourism, Parks, and Recreation.  Two will be public land use zones managed by the Minister of Sustainable Resource Development. Not only can a Regional Plan create new parks, but on the only scorecard to date, they are the preferred conservation designation by a rate of 2:1.

Read “Lower Athabasca Regional Plan: Conservation areas mean something” on the ELC blog.

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