Carrizo Plain named as environmental “Bio Gem”

Petition for Justice for Marlene Braun

Carrizo Plain is New BioGem

Peace-Athabasca Delta named a BioGem

By Hanneke Brooymans,
February 3, 2009

EDMONTON — Among the crown jewels of Canada’s boreal forest tracts, the Peace-Athabasca Delta in northern Alberta stands out as a BioGem, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The environmental organization named the region as one of three new BioGems on Tuesday. The other two newly designated regions are the Carrizo Plain National Monument in central California and the country of Costa Rica.

There are now 13 BioGems in all. The BioGems project highlights the Western Hemisphere’s most extraordinary and at-risk places stretching from the Arctic in Alaska to Patagonia in Chile.

Since 2001, NRDC has campaigned to save more than 30 special natural places throughout the Americas that offer sanctuary for endangered wildlife, curb global warming and provide livelihoods for local communities.

“Even within the boreal forest, the Peace-Athabasca Delta is one of the world’s most important nesting grounds for migratory birds. But these rest areas are threatened by the world’s largest industrial project — Alberta’s tarsand mines,” said Susan Casey-Lefkowitz director of NRDC’s Canada program, in a press release. “By designating this area as a BioGem, we can help prevent potential devastation from the oil industry and other development.”

The Peace-Athabasca Delta is a stopover and nesting area for more than one million birds, including tundra swans, snow geese and countless ducks, the council said. The delta and the bird populations are also of critical importance to local aboriginal communities.

The council fears ramped-up oilsands extraction could contaminate and reduce water flow into the delta, kill fish and disturb habitat.

Conservation groups recently released a report finding that oilsands projects could have a cumulative impact in the coming decades that could be as high as 166 million birds lost, including future generations, throughout the larger boreal forest.

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