Nunavut—the newest, largest, and northernmost territory of Canada— comprises a major portion of Northern Canada, and most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. The Nunavut Settlement Area (see map) includes one-fifth of Canada’s land mass, and is the largest jurisdiction in Canada while having the smallest population. Nunavut also has the highest unemployment rate, creating a need for social and economic development opportunities. Nunavummiut rely on wildlife for much of their diet and basic needs, therefore healthy wildlife populations are vital for the social, cultural, and economic well-being of residents. While the economy is growing, there is great potential for further growth, particularly in the sectors of mining, oil and gas, tourism, and commercial fisheries.
The Nunavut Planning Commission (NPC) has jurisdiction over more than 3 million km2 of land, water, and marine areas. The area of marine waters only is over 1 million km2.
A Land Use Plan for Nunavut has been drafted in 2016; plan approval is expected in 2018.
Land use plans prepared by the NPC are intended to guide and direct resource use and development. Proponents wishing to carry out activities in the Nunavut Settlement area must submit a Project/Project Proposal to the NPC for a conformity determination. These Projects/Project Proposals must conform to the requirements of the Nunavut Land Use Plan before it can advance further in the regulatory system. No other jurisdiction in Canada provides legally-binding regional land use planning for an area the size of the NSA.
The plan is expected to be revised every five years.
Stakeholders have emphasised that a balance between industrial development and the environment in order to guarantee the long-term preservation and conservation of the land, wildlife, and wildlife habitat.
There are limitations to the activities would be regulated in the marine areas (e.g., fishing would not be subject to the plan), but many activities would be (e.g., oil and gas exploration and development and cruise ships). Stakeholders have emphasised that a balance between industrial development and the environment in order to guarantee the long-term preservation and conservation of the land, wildlife, and wildlife habitat.
In addition to spatial management actions, in Nunavut seasonal actions (restrictions) are also important. For example, some protected areas and special management areas, particularly in marine areas, have restrictions that are seasonal in nature (i.e., they do not apply year- round). Wherever possible, these seasonal restrictions are based on Inuit seasonal cycles and systems (snow, ice, water, and light), which are not similar to those in the rest of Canada (see diagram).