Protecting a wilderness

Published: Saturday 15 November 1997

MORE than a million hectares of mountain ranges, rivers and valleys in the rocky mountains of British Columbia are to be surrounded by a buffer zone. As a result, al! development in the area will take place under strict guidelines. Known as Muskwa-Kechika, the area is larger than Switzerland. This decision was taken after the provincial government in British Columbia held consultations with oil and mining companies and envi-ronmentalists. Significant amounts of natural gas have been discovered in the buffer zone and it was feared that without a plan, development could damage one of the largest and most important wilderness areas in North America.

Tamara Stark a member of Green-peace Canada, the environmental pressure group that has opposed the com-mercialisation of British Columbia's forests, said that the move would help protect an area large enough to include the corridors that animals use to migrate. Under the plan, a management advisory board representing everyone with a stake in the area is to recommend how much commercial activity is to be allowed. They will also oversee government decisions in this regard.

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