Nanaimo Regional District advocating for land protection fund

Karthick Krishnakumar/Usplash
Nanaimo is pictured in this file photo.

The province should establish a fund to help local purchase of land for biodiversity protection, a letter from the Regional District of Nanaimo will say.

The RDN board passed motions recommended by Sierra Club BC that the board chair write to Premier David Eby and relevant ministers indicating support for the B.C. government to establish a local natural areas protection fund and enactment of a provincial law for biodiversity and ecosystem health.

In the fall, the provincial government, federal government and First Nations Leadership Council entered into a tripartite nature conservation framework agreement to protect and conserve biodiversity, habitats and species at risk in the province. The government of B.C. and Canada will each invest up to $500 million over the life of the framework agreement, and along with First Nations jointly identify projects and investments to halt or reverse biodiversity loss and create landscapes more resilient to wildfire, flood and drought. It also enables the participation of other levels of government, non-governmental organizations and industry.

SEE ALSO: RDN advocating for protection of habitat of endangered flower

Nanaimo Director Paul Manly, who put forward the motions to the board, said regional districts don’t have enough funds available to conserve lands. “We have a real need to be protecting more land,” Manly said.

Electoral Area B Alternate Director Lisa Webster raised questions about how such a fund would relate to the electoral area, highlighting its “unique status” given it is situated in the Islands Trust. “The whole point of the Islands Trust is to actually do the conservation and preservation.

“Often local governments are the eyes on the ground, and while there’s not a lot of funding to have this as a priority, it’s something that must be looked at at the local level, so whatever we can do to foster that closer relationship than Victoria or Ottawa with our local areas, then I think we need to do that.”

A resolution calling for a local natural areas protection fund also passed at the 2023 Union of BC Municipalities convention. A response from the province released in March said a draft Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health Framework has been co-developed with First Nations and “will create a vision and tools to support the prioritization of ecosystem health and the conservation of biodiversity.” It will include a commitment to co-developing new legislation with First Nations and working with local governments and “British Columbians as part of a whole of society approach, to support the conservation and restoration of biodiversity, including looking at potential financial incentives.”

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

Local Journalism Initiative

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