Large expanse of boreal forest straddling Ontario and Manitoba gets World Heritage recommendation – by Gloria Galloway (Globe and Mail – May 16, 2018)

A massive tract of boreal forest straddling the Ontario and Manitoba borders that has been home to the Anishinaabe people for 6,000 years has received the two key recommendations it needs to become Canada’s first mixed cultural and natural UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Pimachiowin Aki, which means the Land That Gives Life in Anishinaabemowin, covers 29,040 square kilometres (almost the size of Vancouver Island) of mostly untouched wilderness and is home to one of the largest herds of caribou south of Hudson Bay as well as many other species of mammals, birds, insects and fish.

A World Heritage mixed designation is a declaration that an area is so important to the world, both culturally and ecologically, that it must be protected. There is another such site in Mexico but none in Canada or the continental United States.

The main advisory bodies to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee – the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – have posted their recommendations in favour of the region’s designation as a World Heritage site on the UNESCO website.

The decision will be made when the World Heritage Committee meets in Bahrain from June 24 to July 4.

“We can’t get ahead of the World Heritage Committee, as the final decision is theirs,” William Young, a Pimachiowin spokesman and member of the Bloodvein First Nation, said Wednesday in a statement, “but we expect to share some good news this July about achieving another of the milestones the partners set for themselves 16 years ago.”

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