MP REPORT: The great outdoors

Colin Mayes on Canada's dedication to protecting our natural areas

Nature is a fundamental part of the Canadian identity, and many citizens like me, are passionate about spending time outdoors, doing activities such as fishing, hiking and canoeing.

Since 2006, your government has taken significant action to protect our natural areas.  Our country is a world leader in conservation and as government we are committed to protecting this rich natural heritage.

That is why, on May 15, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Environment Minister Leona Aglukkaq launched the National Conservation Plan (NCP), and $252 million in new conservation initiatives to secure and protect Canada’s natural heritage for Canadians now and in the future.

The NCP will include significant additional investments over five years for securing ecologically sensitive lands, supporting voluntary conservation and restoration actions, and strengthening marine and coastal conservation.

In addition, it will contain new initiatives designed to restore wetlands and to encourage Canadians to connect with nature close to home through protected areas and green spaces located in or near urban areas.

The plan will expand opportunities for partners, including municipalities, environmental interest groups, hunters and anglers, landowners and community groups, to take practical actions to safeguard the land and water around them.

The NCP complements the proposed 2020 biodiversity goals and targets for Canada, which were developed together with our conservation partners, as part of our participation in the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

A number of specific outcomes are expected from the NCP, including significant progress on terrestrial and marine conservation, the improvement or restoration of additional land, wetlands and shoreline, increased opportunities for Canadians to experience nature, and access to improved information to support conservation efforts.

With the NCP, we are building a stronger Canada, a country that cares about conserving its natural heritage and a country where we can all enjoy the beauty of nature from coast to coast to coast.

Colin Mayes is the MP for Okanagan-Shuswap.