a woodland caribou on next to a wetland
Woodland Caribou Canada’s Boreal is the only place on Earth where you can find forest-dwelling woodland caribou. © Ami Vitale

Conserving at Scale

Thaidene Nene: Land of the Ancestors

The dream of the Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve is a step closer to reality.

The dream of the Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve is a step closer to reality. After forty years of planning and negotiation, the federal and territorial governments, along with the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation announced an agreement on proposed borders for the Thaidene Nene protected area in Canada’s Northwest Territories. 

Overall, 6.5 million acres will be protected, of which 3.5 million will be the National Park Reserve. The additional 3 million acres will be managed by the territorial government as a park and wildlife protection area. 

Thaidene Nene, which means “Land of the Ancestors” in Chipewyan, is a sparsely populated region of sub-arctic forests and tundra within the Northwest Territories. This place defines remoteness. Few locations on Earth have fewer people and more wild, uncharted territory. Located at the transition between boreal forest and tundra, Thaidene Nene sweeps across the East Arm of Great Slave Lake and along vast stretches of canyons, rivers and waterfalls. It is home to a treasury of wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, moose, and muskox, and is critical winter ground for the last herds of barren ground caribou. It is also traditional hunting grounds and the location of sacred sites for First Nations who have lived here for millennia.

Increasing demand for natural resources such as diamonds and uranium is driving new development in the Northwest Territories, while modern technologies have improved the ability to mine from remote locations. The goal of both government and First Nations is to find a balance that will sustain local economies while preserving both the natural and cultural values.

a group of kids playing and jumping
Playtime in Lustel K'e Native children in the village of Lutsel K'e play as the sun sets. © Ami Vitale

Today, working with Nature United, The Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation is establishing a $30 million trust fund for the community’s investments in park management, operations, staff training and tourism within the new park. This innovative model will provide long-term sustainable funding and will guarantee that the Lutsel K’e community has the resources to hire rangers, manage concessions and park activities and ensure the area is maintained for its ecological and cultural values.

This exciting development is the first step in a longer process. After public consultation, the process will move to making the park boundaries final - a development that is expected to take place this spring, so stay tuned!