In 2005, the Government of Northwest Territories’ (GNWT) Department of Environment and Natural Resources asked Round River to support the NWT Protected Areas Strategy (PAS) in a technical capacity. The NWT PAS is a spatial planning process with the stated goal of identifying priority areas for the protection of special ecological and cultural areas in the NWT, as well as core representative examples of the unique ecological diversity found in of each of the territory’s 45 ecoregions. Round River’s initial involvement in the PAS process included the development of a proof-of-concept spatial assessment that demonstrated the utility of using spatial optimization tools as a means to identify the key areas for protection of ecosystem values, while taking into consideration the patterns of industrial development and other human uses of the landscape. This exercise highlighted areas of the NWT likely to be of high importance for conservation, and introduced the spatial analysis approach that the PAS would eventually employ throughout the planning process. This initial body of work built the foundation for an ongoing technical relationship between Round River and the NWT PAS.
After our initial conservation assessment was completed, the PAS working group asked Round River to continue to play a key advisory role in the development and execution of the PAS ecosystem representation analysis. Round River supported the process by contributing analysis methodology and other GIS-based technical expertise to the PAS team, and by constructing a spatial data framework that enabled the creation of a coarse-filter freshwater ecosystems map of the entire Mackenzie River Watershed. This map was needed as an input into the planning process, to ensure that the freshwater biodiversity of the region and the processes necessary to sustain it were represented alongside terrestrial ecosystem values within the protected areas network.
In 2009, Saoyú-ʔehdacho near the community of Délįne became the first protected area created by the Protected Areas Strategy. For more details about the NWT Protected Areas Strategy, please visit their web site at http://www.nwtpas.ca/