The government of Canada and the Dehcho First Nation announced today the expansion of Nahanni National Park from 1,865 square miles (4,830 square kilometers) to 12,000 square miles (31,080 square kilometers), over six times its original size.
“Nahanni is one of the great natural areas in the world,” said Dr. John Weaver. “The previous boundary was too narrow and too small for these big animals, and this expansion will protect critical habitat for these vulnerable wildlife species.” Weaver spent five years studying grizzly bears, woodland caribou, and Dall’s sheep in the remote region.
The park contains parts of the Dehcho people’s traditional territory. This indigenous group was a vital actor in establishing the park’s expansion.
Another 3,000 square miles bordering the new park’s dimensions has been withdrawn from development, because it is being considered for a separate National Park within the Sahtu people’s territory.
“This momentous decision by the Canadian government represents a new way of thinking about conservation at larger scales,” said Dr. Justina Ray, Executive Director of Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCS-Canada). Some recent studies of parks have shown them to be too small to protect full ecosystems and important watersheds.
In 2007 WCS-Canada published a report that stated Nahinni Naitonal Park was not large enough to protect the park’s large species. Weaver’s research was essential in reaching the conclusion.
The new Nahinni National Park is three-and-a-half times larger than Yellowstone and one of the world’s largest parks. The park contains no roads and no major trails.
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