Protected Area Initiatives in the NWT

CPAWS-NWT was a founding member of the NWT Protected Areas Strategy (PAS) and continues to support community driven initiatives that seek to establish a network of protected areas across the NWT that protect both natural and cultural values.

What is the status of the Protected Areas Strategy?

Following the devolution of many of the responsibilities for land and resource management from the federal to territorial government on April 1, 2014 the GNWT instigated a "pause" on all Protected Areas Strategy (PAS) working groups and activities and in doing so asked participating communities for an opportunity to present its own GNWT version of "northern tools" for conservation. Now 2.5 years on since devolution it still remains unclear what these tools will actually be, we are optimistic that the recent release of a new "5 Year Plan" Healthy Land, Healthy People: GNWT Priorities for Advancement of Conservation Network Planning 2016-2021 could be a meaningful departure from the "pause" on establishing protected areas.  We are eager to engage in ensuring that the Conservation Network Planning Priorities are meaningfully implemented.  


Healthy Land, Healthy People
GNWT Conservation Planning Site


Proposed Protected Areas:


Edéhzhíe (eh-day-shae) includes the Horn Plateau, Horn River, Mills Lake and Willowlake River.  The study area is approximately 25,000 km², and 14, 250 km² of that area is under an interim land withdrawal until May 2015. A rich and diverse area, it is both ecologically and culturally important to the Dehcho and Tłįchǫ people.

The Federal and Territorial Governments are currently reviewing a request from the Dehcho First Nations and Tłįchǫ Government to establish the area as a National Wildlife Area which includes sub-surface protection. Traditional land use continues and monitoring and research activities are in full swing as a formal announcement on a establishment agreement remains outstanding.  

Learn more about Edéhzhíe.

Ka'a'gee Tu

Ka'a'gee Tu (kah-gee-too) is in the south-eastern corner of the Dehcho region and includes a large portion of the Kakisa River watershed. This 9,600 km2 area is culturally and ecologically rich, and its resources have sustained the Ka’a’gee Tu (Kakisa) people for generations.

Ka'a'gee Tu is temporarily protected under the Dehcho Interim Measures Agreement. The Working Group was working towards drafting recommendations on designation, boundary and management of the area when the pause on the PAS occurred at the time of devolution.

Learn more about Ka’a’gee Tu.

Dinàgà Wek'èhodì (formerly Kwets'ootł'àà)

Dinàgà Wek’èhodì (dee-na-ga wek-a-ho-dee) lies on the northern portion of the north arm of Great Slave Lake and includes the mainland shoreline, numerous islands, and the water of the lake, itself. The area is about 660 km2, and is culturally important to the Dene and Métis who have used it for centuries; it is a popular area for fishing, hunting, outfitting, ecotourism, and recreation. Dinàgà Wek’èhodì  is an Important Bird Area (IBA) in Canada and is a key migratory bird site in the NWT.  The area is now being considered for protection through the application of territorial legislation.

Learn more about  Dinàgà Wek’èhodì .

Sambaa K’e

Sambaa K’e (SALM-bah-kay) is in the south-central Dehcho region. Approximately 10,600 km2, it includes the Trout Lake watershed, which is of critical importance to the community of Trout Lake and downstream communities. Rich in wildlife and fish, it is important for subsistence harvesting and the maintence of the Sambaa K’e peoples’ traditional lifestyle.

Most of the area is temporarily protected through the Dehcho Interim Measures Agreement interim withdrawal. The Working Group was in the process of drafting their final recommended boundary and recommendations for the land management regime when the pause on the PAS occured at the time of devolution.

Learn more about Sambaa K’e.

Ts'ude niline Tu'eyeta

Ts'ude niline Tu'eyeta (Tsoo-den-ee-len Too-yuh-ta) is an area west of the Mackenzie River and the community of Fort Good Hope. It is a sacred place and harvesting area of the Fort Good Hope Dene, and covers approximately 15,000km² of boreal forest and wetlands. Ts'ude niline Tu'eyeta includes critical wetlands that filter millions of gallons of water per day, and key migratory bird terrestrial habitat.

The Ts’ude niline Tu’eyeta Working Group finalized their Recommendations Report in March of 2012, which includes a recommended boundary area of 10, 100km². In April 2013, an official request to Environment Canada was submitted by the K'asho Got'ine District Land Corporation, on behalf of the K'asho Got'ine Dene Band and Métis to establish Ts'ude niline Tu'eyeta as a National Wildlife Area based on the 2012 Recommendations Report. The entire study area (15, oookm²) is temporarily protected with a Proposed Conservation Initiative (PCI) designation through the Sahtu Land Use Plan. Following devolution the GNWT expressed its own interests in sponosring the area and has asked for an opportunity to present GNWT options for protection. No further decisions have been made.

Learn more about Ts’ude niline Tu’eyeta.


Within the PAS partners had also worked toward protecting two areas as Critical Wildlife Areas under the territorial Wildlife Act, these areas are still being considered

Ejié Túé Ndáde

Ejié Túé Ndáde (Eh-jzhe-twé-in-DA-deh) lies adjacent to Wood Buffalo National Park, and includes part of Buffalo Lake and the Buffalo River. It has been an important harvesting area to the Dene and Métis for generations. Approximately 2,177km2, it represents a rich cultural and ecological heritage, including wildlife, waterfowl and fish habitat and a number of archaeological, spiritual, and culturally significant sites. I

A Working Group is currently overseeing the documentation and assessment of the area's cultural, ecological and economic values and developing recommendations to conserve, manage and protect those values.

Learn more about Ejié Túé Ndáde.

Łue Túé Sųlái

Łue Túé Sųlái (the Five Fish Lakes) have been used by the Jean Marie River First Nation for traditional activities for generations, and continue to be used today. Approximately 180km2 and containing important habitat for fish, wildlife and ducks, Łue Túé Sųlái has a rich cultural history shown by traditional trails, burial sites, and stories connected to the area.

Work to document the ecological and cultural values of the Łue Túé Sųlái has begun; and it is also identified as a Conservation Area in the draft final Dehcho Land Use Plan.

Learn more about Łue Túé Sųlái.


What CPAWS is doing

CPAWS-NWT believes strongly that community-driven protection of natural and cultural values is the most effective pathway to achieving conservation outcomes. The PAS provided an opportunity to create a globally significant network of protected areas, while at the same time recognizing and balancing other land uses and land management processes. We expect that the GNWT will continue this work through its Conservation Network Plan and expect that the areas put forward through the PAS wil be seriously considered in the context that  they had been advanced on prior to devolution.  

In the coming months we will be attentive to the Conservation Network Plan.  Engaging in the creation of modern protected areas legislation that includes the principals of permanency, strong protection (no industrial development), and collaborative governance and management will be one priority that we will pursue.


Stay updated

Never miss your chance to make a difference! Enter your e-mail address here to get CPAWS news and actions delivered right to your inbox.

Join mailing list