If you’re a consistent reader of the AI blog, you may remember a blog I wrote a few months ago about the Peel Watershed region in the Yukon Territory of Canada. The area has seen fierce debates over land use since mining and oil industries have shown an interest in developing the area. In 2011, a planning commission made up of First Nations and government appointed members produced a recommended land use plan that called for protection of 80% of this beautiful region. In 2012 the Yukon government adopted their own development plan that would protect only 29% of the region.

Disagreement over the government's plan to open more than 70% of the area to industrial development led to a lawsuit filing by the Na-Cho Nyak Dun, the Tr’ondek Hwech’in First Nations, the Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Yukon Conservation Society against the Yukon government. The First Nations and environmental groups can now celebrate a victory in the case as the Yukon Supreme court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered the Yukon government to go back to the consultation stage with respect to the Peel Watershed Land Use Plan. This is an important milestone for land use planning across the Territory as it upholds the importance of collaboration and inclusion of First Nations and Yukon residents in long-term land use planning in one of Canada’s most beautiful and untouched regions.

“The Peel River watershed is as sacred to our people as it was to our ancestors, and through this decision today we have ensured it will remain so for our grandchildren,” Chief Roberta Joseph of the Tr’ondek Hwech’in

Congratulations to all those involved! To learn more and to follow the progress of the Peel River Watershed and conservation efforts check out Protect the Peel.

By AI Blog contributor: Sarah Frood

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