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January 18, 2024—Today, the Seal River Watershed Alliance signed an agreement with the Government of Canada and the Manitoba government that will pave the way for establishing one of the largest Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCA) in Canada. The National Audubon Society applauds this historic step towards protecting northern Manitoba’s vast Seal River Watershed, which is one of the world’s most biologically diverse and ecologically important regions for birds and other life.
Dr. Jeff Wells, Audubon’s vice president of boreal conservation, said “The Seal River Watershed is an amazing area full of rich habitat and biodiversity that supports an estimated 250 bird species. This includes 10 million breeding birds, as well as millions more that use these vital habitats for refueling and resting while on their long migratory journeys across our hemisphere.”
Because the watershed has both coastal and inland ecosystems, as well as both forested and open habitats, it supports a fascinating mix of bird species along with at least 350 non-bird species including 48 mammal species, 26 freshwater fish species, and large numbers of insects, plants, trees, and fungi.
“This watershed truly has a global impact,” Wells said. “Birds that nest there travel south to winter in locations across the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean, and both Central and South America. Arctic Terns spend winters even further south in sub-Antarctic waters.”
The watershed is considered crucial to maintaining and growing healthy bird populations throughout the hemisphere. Audubon recognizes that the leadership and guardianship of the Indigenous governments who have stewarded these vast lands for millennia represents the only way to properly protect this magnificent region.
Wells added that Audubon’s support for the Seal River Watershed was recently strengthened during several informed and passionate presentations given by First Nations leaders and Youth Guardians who were special guests at Audubon’s recent Leadership Conference in Colorado.