Governments announce Significant new protected areas in the Cree homeland of Eeyou Itschee

Parts of the Broadback-Mishigamish Forest are carved out of the protection agreement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: New York, Montreal, December 17, 2020:  Conservation organizations Canopy and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) welcome today’s joint announcement by the Québec and Cree Nation Governments that brings protection within the Eeyou Itschee to 24% of their territories. This is a meaningful step towards fulfilling the province’s biodiversity and carbon targets and the Cree’s vision to see 30% of their ancestral territory set aside from industrial development. A significant concern is that key areas including caribou habitats in the ecologically important Broadback Forest remain vulnerable to industrial activity.

“We welcome today’s announcement and recognize that much work remains to be done in this turn around decade for our planet. We strongly encourage the Québec Government to continue work with the Cree Nation Government to protect at least 30% of Cree’s territory well before 2030. This is necessary not only to safeguard these culturally and ecologically significant areas, but also to ensure Québec and Canada contribute towards stabilizing our global climate and biodiversity,” said Nicole Rycroft, Executive Director of Canopy.

“The announcement that Québec will increase protection for Cree territory is a step forward for the Cree way of life and a promise of a better future for the biodiversity of the boreal forest and the global climate. However, the absence of significant protections for the Mishigamish-Broadback forest is a sign that more work must be done. As this area continues to face immediate threats from industrial logging, it is urgent that the Quebec government respect the Waswanipi Cree’s call for ‘absolute protection’ of this vital part of their homeland,” said Anthony Swift, Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Canada Program.

Today’s announcement represents 39 000 km2 of new protection in Cree Nation’s territory overall. However, only parts of the Broadback-Mishigamish territory are added as new protection, with glaring omissions in the centre, southeast of the river, where an extended area going south has not been included. If these areas remain unprotected, industrial extractive activities could do irreparable damage.

The additional 959 km2 of the Broadback-Mishigamish Forest is a fraction of the territory that the Waswanipi Cree have been seeking protection of for decades. A resolution passed over a year ago by the Assembly of the Cree First Nation of Waswanipi (Resolution 2019-2020 – No: 005) reaffirms their support for the absolute protection of the Waswanipi’s Broadback territory, including their last intact forests.

The organizations point out that numerous large forest product customers are following this issue closely. More than twenty corporations with headquarters in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Asia have communicated to the Québec Government their support for the Cree Nation Government’s vision, and the complete protection of the outstanding area in the Broadback Forest.

The Boreal Forest is recognized globally as a major carbon storehouse and massive fresh water reservoir. Stewardship of this climate-mitigating solution is a huge responsibility. There is a clear consensus within the scientific community that half of the planet must be protected in order for nature and human society to avoid the worst impacts of the global climate and biodiversity crises. Specific targets and strategies for conservation and restoration of the planet that achieve 30% by 2030, and 50% by 2050 should prioritize protection of intact areas such as the Boreal forest. Canopy and NRDC urge the Government of Québec to commit to that goal – and in doing so, set a benchmark for other jurisdictions across Canada and the rest of the world.  While our organizations recognize the 50% target set in the Plan Nord, we would like to remind the province of the importance of setting similar targets for the southern portion of the province.

This statement does not address other areas of Indigenous and conservation concern that may be affected by today’s announcement.

For more Information:
Canopy: Laura Repas,, 416.729.7484
NRDC: Margie Kelly,, 312.661.7935

About Canopy
Canopy is a solutions-driven not-for-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting forests, species and climate. We’re committed to working together to guide businesses to better, more sustainable practices.

About NRDC
NRDC works to safeguard the earth—its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.
We combine the power of more than three million members and online activists with the expertise of some 700 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.