World Wildlife Fund: Canada Land Use and Management
Land management is a critical environmental issue for any nation that wants to honestly preserve its resources. Canada, in many ways, has done better than most other nations (for example, the Canadian government has not had the historical problems that the United States has had with this issue), but there have been problems that the government has not been able to properly manage. Thus, there needs to be some way to effectively manage these resources so that people and nature can coexist in a more harmonious way.
One method used that has worked in recent years is to allow certain organizations, that have conservationist goals, the ability to help manage natural resources within the country. World Wildlife Fund -- Canada is an organization whose sole focus is assisting the animals of the planet through conservation efforts. The main thrust of this organization since its inception in 1961 (WWF-Canada, 2012) has been to advocate for animals, and to seek to preserve their habitat. This has manifested itself through attempts to clean up the oceans, improve the air quality, reduce carbon emissions which are directly related to climate change, and to protect all species but especially those that are in the greatest need (WWF-Canada, 2012). In Canada, the organization has worked to ensure that areas such as the boreal forests are maintained to ensure the continued success of the nation's wildlife populations. Canada has made some strides forward in its efforts of land management in order to promote wildlife habitat, but issues remain. Research has concluded that the assistance of organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund -- Canada are needed. This research paper considers the efficacy of this partnership against the loose framework of Canadian land management law as an evaluation guide.
Statement of Aim
Does Canada better manage its land resources through partnerships with organizations like World Wildlife Fund -- Canada?
In order to use the law as a framework regarding success or failure of World Wildlife Fund -- Canada's efforts in land management, that law must first be outlined. The reason that this particular code is being used as a guideline is that the success of such a venture is very difficult to quantify. There has to be some measuring stick against which the policies engendered by World Wildlife fund -- Canada, in cooperation with the Canadian government, can be compared. Therefore, the law offers an acceptable minimum standard against which the agency's efforts can be judged.
The two government bodies that help shape land management in Canada are the Ministry of Natural Resources Canada, which is the primary enforcer of land management law, and Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (Sierra Systems, 2004). An article describing the functions of these two entities says that "Natural Resources Canada plays a pivotal role in helping shape the important contributions of the natural resources sector to the Canadian economy, society and environment. This sector -- forests, energy, minerals, metals, and landmass as well as related industries -- is one of the most productive, high tech sectors in the global economy" (Sierra Systems, 2004). The law is very specific about the scope of the job that this ministry controls. It is probably the most wide ranging ministry in Canadian government because the "land mass" and the oceans within the purview of the Canadian government. The other department is "a highly decentralized organization which responds to the varying needs of a culturally, economically, and geographically diverse clientele. INAC has primary, but not exclusive, responsibility for meeting the government's constitutional, treaty, political and legal responsibilities to First Nations, Inuit, and Northerners" (Sierra Systems, 2004). The reason that laws governing First Nations peoples are important is because the tribes control a great deal of land in Canada. The people are allowed to use the land in a different way than other Canadians because they have treaties that the government is contractually bound to uphold.
The main law the INAC works with has to do with land that the First Nations occupy, but the Ministry of Natural Resources Canada has a great deal of responsibility that sometimes supersedes the authority of INAC. The main policies that the ministry has to do with, at least as far as land management goes, are recreation, operating a business, and public safety.
This body (Ministry of Natural Resources Canada) both sets policy, through guidelines and contracted agreements between parties, and enforces the legislation that governs land management issues. The ministry website says that "Policy instruments include strategic policy statements, legislation and regulations, program policies and strategies, directives, procedures, guidelines and standards" (MNR, 2012). These policies are set forth in a statement of sustainable forestry management. These are:
means ensuring the long-term health of forest ecosystems while balancing environmental, economic and social benefits both now and in the future embodies the need to conserve biodiversity involves clearly defining desired future forest conditions and ensuring that actions taken are compatible with maintaining or achieving those conditions during forest management planning.
depends on the use of a widely accepted framework of sustainable forest management criteria and indicators that together describe forest sustainability relies on periodic assessments of forest ecosystem health and socio-economic conditions and public reporting to ensure accountability and transparency in decision-making and to demonstrate that sustainable forest management is being achieved on the ground. (MNR, 2012).
These policies are what the government uses to police itself and the people of Canada, and they are the minimum acceptable set of standards that govern peripheral organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund -- Canada. The guidelines that government works under are a great starting point, but environmental needs dictate that these policies go farther. The following sections will detail how, or if, the WWF -- Canada is actually fulfilling its mandate to assist Canada in policy making.
The World Wildlife Fund has organizations throughout the world which watch different areas that require specific protection. Part of the job is to help maintain endangered species and bring their populations back through habitat replacement and, in some cases, breeding programs. In some areas of the world, land management is the issue because the land mass is so important to a great number of species that the WWF cannot as easily concentrate on a specific species. This is the case in Canada. Although the WWF does watch endangered and marginal species, the organization is more concerned with the management of the vast land resources in Canada.
The World Wildlife Funds mission statement reflects its mission in Canada and around the world. In part, it says that the WWF will: "ensure that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable now and in the long-term, for the benefit of all life on Earth" and "WWF's ultimate goal is to stop, and eventually reverse, the accelerating degradation of our planet's natural environment, and to help build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature" (Bickis, 2008). The reason that this statement is important is because it shows what the ultimate goal of the organization is. Some may say that they are not as interested in the welfare of humans as they are in animals, but according to the mission statement, that is a false assumption. The organization is interested in the welfare of both human and animal populations. However, they realize that the present actions of humans are unsustainable in the long run, so they work with governmental organizations to protect the species that cannot protect themselves.
The primary concern of the World Wildlife Fund -- Canada is that the boreal forests remain as they are in large part. The problem with this is that while the forests are perfect habitat for the many species that live in them, they also contain other resources that can be, and many believe need to be exploited, for the good of all people. It is necessary to remember that the government puts its citizens first, whereas the World Wildlife Fund -- Canada does not have a stated agenda which favors either humans or animals. Because of this disconnect, the organization attempts to help shape policy.
The government uses a plan that it calls "Integrated Land-Use Planning…to balance the economic, social and cultural opportunities in a specific area of forest" (Canadian Council of Forest Ministers, 2010), but the World Wildlife Fund-Canada has a different idea about the use of land. It is true that to truly have sustainable resources, they must have use by both the people interested in them and the animals who are indigenous to them also. However, too many times the people overlook the other species that they share the land with. The WWF -- Canada's goal (as stated by the director of the organization in a speech) is to "conserve biological diversity at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels, by ensuring that human use of natural resources is sustainable, and by reducing pollution and the wasteful consumption of natural resources,…