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New conservancy protects rare ecosystems in Incomappleux Valley

January 25, 2023 at 1:06 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Known for its rich wildlife habitat and old-growth forests, the Incomappleux Valley is a biologically unique place in B.C. that will now be preserved by the Province.

Located in the remote wilderness southeast of Revelstoke, the new Incomappleux Conservancy spans more than 58,000 hectares and is part of B.C.’s rare inland temperate rainforest where some old-growth cedar and hemlock trees are estimated to be four metres (13 feet) in diameter and more than 1,000 years old. The forest supports more than 250 lichen species, including some that are new to science, and provides habitat for grizzly and black bears, as well as a variety of endangered fungal and plant species.

“Protecting our wild spaces for generations to come is one of the most important things we are doing to create a healthier future,” said Premier David Eby. “Our actions to preserve the Incomappleux Valley and its rare ecosystem will make this one of the most significant protected areas established in the province in a decade. Stewardship of B.C.’s waters, lands and resources will mean partnering with First Nations and working with industry, communities and more to help us reach our targets for protecting B.C.’s biodiversity.”

In addition to the 58,654-hectare conservancy, which is approximately the size of 150 Stanley Parks, another 17,000 hectares in the southern part of the valley will be protected from forestry activity.

“The rich and unique biodiversity of the Incomappleux Valley makes this one of the most-significant protected areas established in the province in a decade,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “By expanding parks and protected areas, we are strengthening protection and enhancement of biodiversity in British Columbia and contributing to our goal of protecting 30% of the province by 2030.”

B.C. has two temperate rainforests – one on the West Coast and the other in the Interior. The inland temperate rainforest is one of the few inland rainforests in the world and is approximately 1.43 million hectares. It stretches roughly 550 kilometres along the western slopes of the Rocky and Columbia mountains.

The Incomappleux Valley is one of the nine areas where harvesting was immediately deferred in September 2020 when the Old-Growth Strategic Review was released to allow First Nations, the Province and other partners to develop new approaches to sustainable forest management that prioritizes ecosystem health and community resiliency.

“Conserving the Incomappleux Valley is another example of how we are taking a comprehensive ecosystem approach to managing our forests,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “By partnering with First Nations and protecting our oldest and rarest forests, we are creating a healthier environment supporting sustainable forest management.”

The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Interfor Corporation and the Province have worked with the First Nations, whose territory includes the Incomappleux Valley, and explored options for protecting its unique ecological values. As part of the agreement to establish the conservancy and protected areas, Interfor, which is based in Burnaby, has released 75,000 hectares of its forest tenure. The Nature Conservancy of Canada is facilitating and funding the conservancy and protections, with support from the Government of Canada, Teck Resources, Wyss Foundation, Wilburforce Foundation and individual donors.

Quotes:

Nancy Newhouse, B.C. regional vice-president, Nature Conservancy of Canada –

“Only by engaging in a whole-of-society approach can we hope to stop and reverse the destruction of nature. The Nature Conservancy of Canada is committed to mobilizing support across all sectors to support new and innovative ways to conserve lands. When we work together with Indigenous communities, governments, industry and private citizens, we can achieve great results for nature. Incomappleux is an exciting example of this strategy in action.”

Stuart Card, vice-president, sustainability and chief forester, Interfor –

“Interfor is committed to sustainable forest management that includes dedicated conservation efforts. We share an appreciation for the unique ecosystems of the Incomappleux Valley and are pleased to partner with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Province to ensure it is protected.”

Shuswap Band Chief and Council –

“Shuswap appreciates that other important considerations are emerging in the forest sector other than fibre. We feel that stewardship of the lands and resources is long overdue and that this transfer is a step in the right direction as are recent policy shifts in the sector such as landscape level planning. The Incomappleux licence transfer and commitments by government to work collaboratively on managing these areas presents an opportunity for Shuswap to demonstrate stewardship is needed and at the forefront. We look forward to having our place in the forest sector to benefit all and future generations.”

Jarred-Michael Erickson, chairman, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and the Sn̓ʕaýckstx (Sinixt) Confederacy –

“The Incomappleux Valley is a precious old-growth forest, which our Sinixt ancestors protected and sustained since time immemorial. It is now our job to ensure that the land and habitat are preserved for the benefit of future generations, and we look forward to working with the Province and other stakeholders in this very special part of our ancestral territory.”

Jonathan Price, CEO, Teck Resources –

“Teck is taking action to protect nature through this collaboration facilitated by the Nature Conservancy of Canada to conserve and protect an intact, ancient tract of one of our planet’s rare ecosystems in the Incomappleux Valley. This initiative supports Teck’s work to become a nature-positive company by helping protect nature in an area with significant biodiversity and ecological importance. Tackling the global challenge of nature loss requires collaboration between industry, Indigenous communities, governments and non-profits, and we are excited to support this important conservation initiative.”

Quick Facts:

  • There are 158 conservancies in B.C., ranging in size from 11 hectares to 322,020 hectares.
  • Conservancies are established to recognize the importance of an area to First Nations for social, ceremonial and cultural use. 
  • They also enable the continuation of traditional Indigenous uses and can accommodate low-impact, compatible economic activities.
  • However, commercial logging, mining and hydroelectric power generation, other than local run-of-the-river projects, are prohibited.
  • The first conservancies were designated in 2006 following government-to-government negotiations with First Nations on land-use plans for the central and north coast.
  • British Columbia has 1,037 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves and protected areas, covering more than 14 million hectares or approximately 14.4% of the land base, making it one of the largest park systems in North America.

Learn More:

For more information about BC Parks, visit: www.bcparks.ca

For more information about the Nature Conservancy of Canada, visit: www.natureconservancy.ca

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