Mining and Canada's national parks-- policy options : a case study of Nahanni National Park Reserve
Carey, Paul Eric
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Globally, mining and protected areas are both vital to our way of life. Mining provides the resources on which modern society depends, while protected areas help preserve the planet’s biological diversity by helping to ensure life’s essentials such as clean air and fresh water. The relationship between protected area management and mineral exploration and extraction is an issue of global and national significance. Many of Canada’s 42 national parks occur in close proximity to mining activities (AXYS, 2002) and the challenge becomes balancing development objectives with conservation values. Despite a historic perception that mining operations and protected areas are mutually exclusive, opportunities for partnerships exist and allowing mineral activities to occur within national park boundaries under certain limited circumstances could result in increased collaboration with the mineral industry and ultimately enable Canada to more quickly expand and better protect its national parks. Using the proposed expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve (NNPR) in the NWT as a case study, this thesis explores the merits of a hypothetical amendment to Canada’s National Parks Act, which would permit metal mining within national park boundaries under certain limited circumstances. Using a case study research strategy and based on available written sources of information, the social, economic and environmental ramifications of allowing metal mining operations to continue within the extended boundaries of NNPR (i.e. policy option #1) were considered. Results were evaluated against the advantages and disadvantageous of expanding NNPR around existing mineral interests (policy option #2), as well as against the alternate option of maintaining Nahanni’s existing boundaries (policy option #3). Results suggest that including existing mineral permit, claim and lease holders within an expanded NNPR is the favored approach of the three policy options in terms of its potential economic and environmental benefits and therefore, policy option #1 could be the preferred approach for most stakeholders. It is recommended that the proposed amendment be presented to concerned parties to determine stakeholder support and, if favored by a majority, the amendment should be tabled to Parliament so that its merits can be debated at the national level.