Atikaki / Woodland Caribou / Accord First Nations (Pimachiowin Aki)
Parks Canada Agency
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First Nations in Manitoba and Ontario with the support of both provincial governments have proposed creating an internationally recognized network of protected areas and managed landscapes on their ancestral lands and to seek UNESCO designation of the area as a World Heritage Site. Set in the Canadian Shield, the project is known as Pimachiowin Aki and the project area contains 40,147 km2 of boreal forest that includes the First Nations’ traditional lands and contiguous protected areas on both sides of the provincial border. The majority of the project area is comprised of the First Nations’ Traditional Land Areas where ongoing land use planning will help to determine the boundary of a future World Heritage nomination. The parklands include Atikaki and South Atikaki Provincial Parks in Manitoba and Woodland Caribou Provincial Park, four proposed park additions and the Eagle – Snowshoe Conservation Reserve in Ontario. These parks and protected lands represent an area of natural and wilderness values covering over 8,500 km2. The First Nations’ traditional lands and provincially designated lands together form part of the continuous coniferous boreal forest that extends across northern Canada.
The forest is dominated by stands of black spruce and jack pine, with a shrub layer of ericaceous shrubs, mosses and lichens. Secondary tree species include aspen, white birch, white spruce and balsam fir, with some species from the prairies and the eastern deciduous regions. Four rivers carve through the area, with associated cliffs, waterfalls and rapids. One of these rivers, the Bloodvein, has been recognized and designated as a Canadian Heritage River. Also found are typical landforms of the shield region, including glacial striae, till deposits and evidence of glacial Lake Aggasiz. The area provides an essential habitat for a segment of the threatened woodland caribou, and also protects habitat for the chestnut lamprey, a species of special concern. Other wildlife representative of the region includes black bears, wolves, lynx and owls, as well as lake trout, pike and walleye. Numerous archeological sites exist, helping to demonstrate that the area has long been of special significance to First Nations. The site was one of several protected areas in the circumpolar region recommended at the October 2003 Boreal forest workshop held in Russia for consideration as possible World Heritage nominations. This project area is considered part of the Midwestern Canadian Shield ecoregion, which is in turn part of the Canadian Taiga Biogeographical Province (Udvardy classification).