Northern News Services
Fort Providence (Apr 25/03) - The map of the Dehcho region is going
to be carefully dissected over the coming years.
Areas will be designated for forestry, oil and gas,
mining and tourism, according to Dehcho assistant negotiator Herb
"There's a whole array of things from an economic
point of view that we'll look at," Norwegian said. "At
the end of the day what you'll end up with is a maze of carefully
planned areas that will cater to development and be sensitive to
areas that are protected."
He added that there will also be corridors in which
wildlife can travel safely.
All the land-use planning will continue to be done
in consultation with First Nations and Metis locals, according to
Norwegian. Meetings on that front are to begin over the next month.
The interim resource development agreement specifies that an oil
and gas issuance cycle will begin within the next year. The Dehcho will have a strong say in which parcels of land are selected
for exploration and development, said Norwegian.
be as though (oil and gas companies) are going to parachute into those
areas in the middle of the night and have community people scrambling,"
he said. "I think the land withdrawals makes it very clear that
the communities are going to be in the driver's seat on this stuff."
Through the interim land withdrawals, nearly 50 per cent of Dehcho
land -- or approximately 10 million hectares -- has been deemed off
limits to development. Protected sites are designated based on cultural
or spiritual significance, harvesting for food and medicinal purposes,
ecological sensitivity and watershed protection.
"I think we're sort of in the lead as far as
land protection is concerned," said Norwegian. "Ourselves,
the Dehcho people, are landlords ... if we'd had it our way we
would have wanted to protect the entire Dehcho territory and have
the whole thing withdrawn. In order to be fair we left areas open
The interim land withdrawals have drawn applause
from NWT environmental groups. The World Wildlife Fund bestowed
the DCFN and the federal government with an international conservation
"This is a tremendous achievement in an area
coming under significant pressure for industrial development,"
said Bill Carpenter, WWF Canada's NWT conservation director.