B.C. signs ‘historic’ $1B agreement to protect lands and waters

B.C. signs 'historic' $1B agreement to protect lands and waters
Ancient Forest Alliance
Endangered Ecosystems Alliance executive director, Ken Wu, beside an enormous old-growth Sitka spruce growing west of Lake Cowichan in Ditidaht territory.

It’s described as an historic agreement for B.C.

It’s a $1 billion agreement to protect 30 per cent of B.C.’s lands and waters by 2030, according to Steve Guilbeault, Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change of Canada.

“This may be the single most significant nature plan in the history of Canada,” he said at an announcement Friday.

Ottawa is contributing $500 million, with $50 million reserved to protect 4,000-square-kilometres of old-growth forest, and another $104 million to restore the habitat of species at risk.

The provincial government’s share is more than $560 million.

SEE ALSO: B.C. introduces crowd-sourcing mechanism to protect old-growth forests, more habitat

Premier David Eby said the agreement will enable the provincial government to fast-track our old-growth protection work.

“This is a paradigm shift in our province about protecting ecosystems, about recognizing the integrated nature of what we want to protect on the land, and how we use the land to make sure it’s there for generations to come,” he said Friday.

TJ Watt, co-founder of the Ancient Forest Alliance, said this agreement could lead to the permanent deferments of logging on Vancouver Island areas in Fairy Creek, and the Walbran Valley.

“This level of funding, again, can help support First Nations that are in the driver’s seat in deciding what old-growth forests get protected in their territory, move some of those temporary deferrals to long time protection measures,” Watt said.

The agreement comes at a critical time, according to Regional Chief, Terry Teegee, BC Assembly of First Nations.

“We’ve experienced this past year, unprecedented drought, unprecedented wildfire season in Canada’s history, and the province’s history. And certainly part of that is conserving biodiverse areas in our respective territories, and in British Columbia,” Teegee said.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillips, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, said First Nations will oversee the conservation efforts.

“We have a sacred duty to do our utmost duty to protect the land, to nurture the land,” he said. “And this agreement serves that purpose. What I like about the agreement is tripartite.”

To reach its target, 100,000 square kilometres of land must be added to the 20 per cent of the province already protected.


Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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