Stewardship in the "Big Land"-The Labrador Species at Risk Stewardship Program
Labrador is called the "Big Land" with good reason. It covers twice the area of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island combined. Human settlement, on the other hand, is restricted to fewer than 10 communities with a total population of approximately 30,000. Even with so few inhabitants, human impacts on the land have been significant. To date, nine species that occur in Labrador have been listed by Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, including the wolverine (Gulo gulo), Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis), and woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou). Although there have been sporadic efforts to raise awareness about some of these species, there has been a long-standing need for a more comprehensive approach to their stewardship.
To fill this gap, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador's Inland Fish and Wildlife Division, in cooperation with the Newfoundland and Labrador Legacy Nature Trust, gathered partners to design and deliver a program that enables the local and Aboriginal communities of Labrador to participate in the stewardship of species at risk. With funding from the HSP (starting at $77,730 in 2001-2002), the Labrador Species at Risk Stewardship Program has already delivered significant results:
- Both the Labrador Inuit Association and the Innu Nation have hired stewardship coordinators. These individuals live and work in the Aboriginal communities.
- Sixty-six people attended a regional workshop held on March 4,2002, resulting in an unprecedented level of cooperation, which continues today.
- The Labrador Inuit Association has identified "customary law" as its traditional equivalent of stewardship and has moved to adopt customary law principles in its land use policies.
- A series of five posters on stewardship and species at risk in Labrador have been designed, printed, and distributed.
- The audio component of the project, implemented by the Alder Institute, resulted in eight hours of professional radio programs aimed at Aboriginal communities. These radio programs have received significant airplay on nine radio stations.
Funding for the Labrador Species at Risk Stewardship Program has been approved for a third year. By increasing the partnership base and focusing program activities, the partners have been able to reduce their reliance on the HSP by 50 percent. The program faces many challenges in a society with a utilitarian view of our environment. Yet, with assistance from the HSP, a strong foundation for stewardship has already been created.
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