It is the provincial government's responsibility to take appropriate measures to protect and preserve outstanding components of our diverse natural heritage-for ourselves, and for future generations.
Recognizing this, the Province has made significant strides towards this goal with a total of 55 provincial protected areas and 8 federal protected areas, as of 2004. Yet many important natural systems in the province remain unprotected, and the rate of establishing new protected areas in the province has been slow. Canada is a signatory to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets , which commits the provinces and territories to protecting at least 17% of its land and inland waters by 2020. In Newfoundland and Labrador, when all types of protected areas are counted (provincial and federal), the total is only 4.6%. This is well below the national average of 10% as of 2011.
This must improve if the province's outstanding natural heritage is to be preserved in healthy diversity for present and future generations. A key step toward achieving this goal is securing representative portions of our diverse landscapes-and examples of our special sites-in a protected-areas network. This important conservation action can ultimately make a significant contribution towards a sustainable, resource-based economy.
How should a network of protected areas be designed in order to ensure that all of Newfoundland and Labrador 's biodiversity is adequately preserved? By using a three-component framework that is based on scientific research, sound conservation practices, and a solid understanding of the processes of ecological systems. This approach is used in various forms around the world.