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New Clayoquot Sound conservancies help protect B.C.’s oldest forests

June 18, 2024 at 1:48 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

Vancouver Island will soon benefit from more than 76,000 hectares of new conservation areas in Clayoquot Sound.

In partnership with Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, 10 new conservancies are being established to support reconciliation, conservation of old-growth forests and healthy ecosystems, as well as provide clarity on areas that will continue to be managed for forestry to support timber supply. Following overwhelming support during public consultation, this process now stands as an example of moving forward with the full involvement of First Nations in implementing old-growth strategies and conserving ecosystem health and biodiversity.

Approximately 76,000 hectares of Crown land will be permanently protected, including old forests, habitat for several endangered and threatened species, and lands adjacent to existing protected areas, such as Strathcona Park. 

Effective June 26, 2024, these new conservancies follow the old-growth deferral implemented in 2020, and are the next step for land and forest management in Clayoquot Sound, in alignment with the First Nations’ land-use visions.

Nature United, a conservation organization that has been working in partnership with First Nations in Clayoquot Sound for more than a decade, is providing funding to the current Tree Farm Licence (TFL) holder to support removing areas from the TFL to enable the establishment of the conservancies.

Canada’s Old Growth Nature Fund provided $8 million to help restore the areas consistent with the land-use visions of the Nations. Protecting additional high priority at-risk old-growth forests is one of the key objectives of the historic Tripartite Framework Agreement on Nature Conservation that Canada, British Columbia and the First Nations Leadership Council signed in November 2023.

The forestry management area TFL 54 lies within Clayoquot Sound. The creation of these new conservancies is part of a larger reconfiguration of the TFL that supports predictable fibre flow through First Nation held tenures in the future.

Quotes:

Bruce Ralston, B.C.’s Minister of Forests –

I support the creation of these conservancies. Collaborative work with First Nations is a cornerstone of our vision for old growth in this province. At the same time, the clarity that these conservancies will bring to the area will give our industry partners confidence in the future of forestry. Conserving nature and creating sustainable jobs are important objectives that we can achieve to secure a stronger future for everyone.”

Josie Osborne, MLA for Mid Island-Pacific Rim –

“There’s no place on Earth like the Clayoquot Sound, and I feel blessed to live here and benefit from thousands of years of stewardship by the Nuu-chah-nulth ha’wiih (hereditary chiefs) and people. I am elated that these ecosystems and the vast array and diversity of animal, plant and tree species within them will be protected. These new conservancies stand as a testament to our partnership with the Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, bringing together protected areas and First Nations’ interests and values and providing clarity to the recreational users, the tourism sector, and industry. They are a benchmark for what a collaborative approach to conservation can do.”

Tyson Atleo (?ikaatius), Hereditary Representative, Ahousaht Nation –

“The decision to create these new conservancies represents over a decade of community engagement, technical work, partnership building, negotiations and generations of effort to position Ahousaht as leaders of natural resource and protected area management in our territories. These conservancies are welcomed as part of a broader vision for implementing Ahousaht title and rights, generating economic opportunity through a forest carbon project and community forestry, and securing social and cultural access to forest resources. The Ahousaht Hawiih (hereditary chiefs) celebrate this decision alongside partners and people around the world as a significant win for climate, biodiversity, reconciliation between Ahousaht and British Columbia, and of course for the benefits to the Ahousaht Nation. We are pleased to preserve these resources for future generations but now call on the government, industry and public to support our management of these conservancies into the long-term future.”

Elmer Frank, Chief Councillor, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation –

“Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation is pleased that British Columbia is taking steps to protect portions of Tla-o-qui-aht territory through the establishment of the Clayoquot Sound Conservancies. These lands have benefited from the stewardship of our Hawiih and the lands have provided benefits to our people for untold generations. The establishment of conservancies will ensure that clear-cut logging has no place in these important old-growth forests. This protection by British Columbia brings B.C. laws into better alignment with Tla-o-qui-aht laws.”

Steven Guilbeault, federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change –

“Our government is taking real action to protect more of B.C.’s cherished natural landscapes and the rich biodiversity of species who live within. Through the Old Growth Nature Fund, we are supporting the protection of more old-growth forests, which help the recovery of species at risk, and keep carbon-rich ecosystems intact. We have embarked on the largest conservation campaign in Canadian history, and this newly protected area in Clayoquot Sound contributes to our primary goals to protect 30% of lands and waters by 2030 and reversing the loss of biodiversity.”

Hadley Archer, executive director, Nature United –

“Today’s announcement is a powerful recognition of visions of the Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations, which include protecting old-growth forests in Clayoquot Sound and building a sustainable economy for communities and future generations. We applaud the British Columbia government for aligning provincial land use with the Nations’ visions, building on over a decade of collaboration across governments, philanthropic funders and conservation organizations to support Indigenous governance and financing.”

Learn More:

To learn more about the Clayoquot Sound area, visit:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/crown-land-water/land-use-planning/regions/west-coast/clayoquot-sound-watershed-plans

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