People in the North and around the world are facing unprecedented pressures on their natural environments. To ensure thoughtful decisions on complex environmental issues, we need environmentally aware populations. Yet creating a population well-informed on environmental issues is becoming increasingly challenging. Changing demographics, advancing technology and global perspectives all compete for our attention and awareness.
The Northwest Territories faces additional challenges as whole generations spend less time on the land. Retaining and sharing the environmental knowledge, culture and traditional lifestyles of Aboriginal peoples and NWT residents is vital to all factors of our environment: economic, cultural and social.
Measuring the level of environmental awareness in a population can be very difficult. However, direct exposure to the natural environment or a particular place is a strong factor in determining concern for that environment or place. The availability of opportunities to experience the natural environment can be measured as an indicator of the potential for increased environmental awareness. Similarly, environmental programs can help us reduce the impacts of human actions on the environment can also be measured as a proxy for changes in environmental awareness.