Vital Conservation Cash to Secure BC’s Old Growth Deferrals

A new conservation foundation is working to provide funds to indigenous and other terrestrial communities to protect endangered ecosystems and build affordable alternatives to clearing at-risk old-growth forests.

It is unfair and impractical to expect communities that depend on income from activities such as forestry, ranching or resource extraction to bear the financial burden of changing their local economy on their own to protect areas for the benefit of all, said Ken Wu. , president of the recently established Nature-Based Solutions Foundation (NBSF).

An example of this is the current old growth deferment process underway in BC, where the provincial government has asked First Nations consider suspending logging in at-risk old-growth forests, but has not offered any compensation to do so, said Wu, also executive director of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance.

“It is both unrealistic and unreasonable to expect First Nations to move away from their main sources of income to salvage old growth,” Wu said.

“For there to be environmental, economic and social justice, a sustainable economic alternative with key financing is needed.”

Conservation financing enables communities to protect or conserve valuable ecosystems and is ideally combined with the development of economic alternatives in areas such as tourism, recreation, clean energy, sustainable fishing and agriculture, or the creation of conservation programs. Indigenous Guardians, where the people who live in the become stewards of the conservation areas in their territories, Wu said.

Conservation foundations like the NBSF and private funding sources can help fill some gaps in conservation funding, but provincial and federal governments need to step up and provide the lion’s share, he added.

The Great Bear Rainforest, an Ireland-sized conservation area on the central coast of BC, is a good case study in conservation finance that resulted in indigenous-led environmental stewardship and sustainable development and protection of the woods, Wu said.

A total of $60 million from conservation groups was combined with $30 million each from the provincial and federal governments, resulting in a historic agreement in 2016, which has created over 1,000 jobs, 100 businesses, and numerous First Nations Guardian Watchmen programs involved.

“Whenever First Nations have had equivalent economic alternatives to keep old-growth forests standing and build an alternative economy, they have chosen the path of protection,” Wu said.

“It is both unrealistic and unreasonable to expect First Nations to move away from their main sources of income to salvage old growth,” said Ken Wu, president of the Nature-Based Solutions Foundation.

The federal government put $50 million on the table to protect ancient forests in BC and allocated a milestone of $340 million to support indigenous leadership in nature conservation and stewardship last year, Wu noted.

But BC, which has jurisdiction over forestry in the province, appears to have done little to take advantage of that funding or cooperate with Ottawa to compensate First Nations considering deferring logging, Wu said.

And the province has certainly not offered any financing to make up for any anticipated loss of forest revenue, he added.

“Those potential postponements form the core of future protected areas,” Wu said.

“If you lose those deferment areas, you lose the heart of the old growth in conserved areas.”

Despite being a relatively new foundation, NBSF has raised just over $1 million of the $16 million it hopes to raise in the next six months to help some First Nations interested in protecting income losses offset by old logging. of the postponements, he said.

The foundation is engaged in preliminary talks with a handful of First Nations leaders, Wu said, adding that he hopes for increased interest in nature-based solutions to address climate change, the biodiversity crisis and spur sustainable development. .

“For now, we’re just quietly moving forward and seeing who’s interested,” Wu said.

“And we will keep moving forward.”

Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canadian National Observer

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