Protected Areas Process

The CNG and the communities are working intensely to develop protected area proposals based on Cultural importance. With the help of Nature Conservancy Canada, we have been collecting cultural information from land users and incorporating conservation science for final proposals.

Existing Protected Areas in Eeyou Istchee

More community consultations to be held to determine more target areas.

Communitycommunity area (km2)
Protected Area in community
% of pa in community

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Currently, 15% of Eeyou Istchee is Protected Area representing 58,996 km2.


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Eeyou Istchee




rapidly growing population


km2 all of it occupied by Crees


Traplines (or family hunting territories)

Trapline is important for lands planning and decision making


  • James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) signed in 1975 was the first modern lands claims agreement in Canada

    –Provides Crees with rights and benefits for local and regional government, land rights, natural resources, hunting, fishing and trapping, environmental protection, wildlife conservation

    –Many other agreements have followed, and have furthered the implementation of the JBNQA ; Paix des Braves, Governance agreement, Cree-Canada agreement…

  • CBD Aichi Target 11 and Canada’s pathway to target 1 ( 17% terrestrial and 10% marine)

    –Canada supports Indigenous led conservation initiatives

  • United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

    –Confirmed Indigenous Peoples rights to resources and land, traditional knowledge, land use planning

Cree Rights and Conservation

  • Cree rights to hunt, trap and fish and practice the Cree way of life continue in designated protected areas.

  • These rights supersede, or come above, protected areas and parks legislation.

  • Cree Vision of Plan Nord (2011) set the orientations for the Crees engagement in Plan Nord.


Protected Areas Target

  • Under the new Plan Nord orientations, Quebec wants maintain their goal of 12% protection in the “boreal forest” (the southern half of Eeyou Istchee).

  • The CNG/GCC Council/Board has already rejected a 12% protected areas limit in a resolution passed in September  2012

  • The Cree leadership is insisting that the 20% target be applied to all of Eeyou Istchee as well.  We will therefore use this target in the network planning process


Cree Regional Conservation Strategy (CRCS)

  • In 2012, the Cree Nation Government /Grand Council of the Crees (E.I.) created the Eeyou Protected Areas Committee (EPAC)

  • EPAC has reps from the 10 Cree communities, the Cree Trappers Association, Youth Council, and the CNG Environment and Cultural Departments

  • EPAC mandated to work on a coordinated approach for protected areas development in Eeyou Istchee

  • The Cree Regional Conservation Strategy (CRCS) was developed by the CNG and the EPAC in 2013

Cree Regional Conservation Strategy Vision

To maintain strong ties to the Cree cultural heritage and way of life, and sustain biodiversity by creating a large, interconnected network of conservation areas in Eeyou Istchee

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Community-Level Planning

  • Work with Chief/Council, tallymen, land users, Elders and others to identify priority areas for protection
  • Decisions about which areas to prioritize are made at the community level. CNG provides technical planning and advisory support
  • Different planning scales: Individual trapline, combined trapline areas for each community as a whole, and scale of all of Eeyou Istchee

Identifying Priority Areas for Conservation in Eeyou Istchee


Connected by Water Flow


and Intactness


Capture Natural Diversity of Landscape



–Surficial Geology



–Lake/Stream Edges (Riparian areas)

–Landform (cliffs, slopes, flats)

–Climate (wet vs. dry)

Prioritize Cree Values

Conservation Zones

Some potential planning objectives

Should fall within the IUCN categories

Protect important wildlife habitat (for food security & enhancing Cree hunting way of life) and for species at risk

Build connectivity of protected areas network (such as river corridors and watershed catchments)

Enhance economic opportunities related to culturally grounded, low-impact tourism

Protect highly valued cultural heritage areas/routes

Buffer against impacts of climate change


Balancing Conservation and Development- Land use Planning

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    Building a strong economy, and creating business opportunities and good jobs is a priority for the Cree Nation

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    Planning for large scale Conservation Zones would require a balanced, comprehensive approach to lands planning

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    This means considering and weighing benefits and constraints related to both development and conservation opportunities, and factoring in other considerations such transportation infrastructure, road networks etc.

Connectivity with all proposals and existing Protected Areas


Nature Conservancy of Canada and Cree Nation Government Partnership

Nature Conservancy of Canada-Independent review names Nature Con

Donate to NCC

A donation to NCC will help ensure that Canada’s natural spaces, and the species they sustain, are protected. For today, for tomorrow and for generations to come.

Working together since 2015, in support of Cree Regional Conservation Strategy

  1. Mapping and geographic data
  2. Computer modeling tools to identify important areas
    • Cree values and knowledge
    • Conservation science
  3. Sharing knowledge of tools with CNG staff

Support Cree Nation Government protected areas planning

  1. Visit Cree communities and identify important values
  2. Share and discuss results