B.C. launches $300M conservation tool to protect old-growth forest
October 27, 2023 By Government of B.C.
British Columbia is accelerating protection of B.C.’s oldest and rarest trees while benefiting communities and wildlife by launching a new $300-million Conservation Financing Mechanism – $150 million from the province, matched by a commitment to raise an additional $150 million from the BC Parks Foundation.
“Conserving nature is one of the most important things we can do to protect against the worst effects of climate change while creating a healthier future for everyone,” said Premier David Eby. “That’s why we’re working with the BC Parks Foundation and First Nations to launch a new tool that will protect old-growth forests and conserve critical habitat across the province for generations to come.”
Conservation financing will ensure that First Nations and the province can conserve critical habitat, better manage for climate change, and further government’s action on protecting more of B.C.’s lands and waters and implementing the Old Growth Strategic Review.
“The new Conservation Financing Mechanism will add further First Nations-led protections for the beautiful lands and waters that are integral to who we are as British Columbians and to First Nations’ culture and way of life,” said Minister of Water, Land and Resource Stewardship Nathan Cullen. “We call on other groups and individuals to contribute to this fund, which will help protect the remarkable forests and diverse ecosystems that people, communities and wildlife depend on.”
As part of this unique made-in-B.C. partnership, the BC Parks Foundation will co-ordinate with other philanthropic organizations and use a crowd-sourcing approach so all British Columbians can contribute to the protection of important ecosystems, including old-growth forests. In this way, the $150 million provided by the province will leverage further donations from individuals and the private sector to increase the overall effect of this funding.
Together, this $300 million will be used to fund new conservation measures that are led or supported by First Nations, lasting environmental protection measures, capacity building for First Nations, stewardship and guardian programs, and support for low-carbon economic opportunities.
“Conservation financing is a core tool that can help us to preserve options for the future and to advance our ability to properly manage, maintain and conserve ecosystem health, biodiversity and our oldest and rarest trees,” said Garry Merkel, co-author, Old Growth Strategic Review. “This conservation financing initiative has the necessary resources and Indigenous grounding to help on both of these fronts — preserving options and helping us advance.”
The funds will be managed by the foundation and will be overseen independently from government by a special committee made up of experts, half of whom will be First Nations.
The Conservation Financing Mechanism is one of B.C.’s actions underway to accelerate old-growth protection, as recommended by the Old Growth Strategic Review. It joins new Forest Landscape Planning that is replacing existing forest stewardship plans and establishes clear objectives for the long-term management of old growth, biodiversity, climate change and wildfire risk.
“People in B.C. care deeply for our forests, which is why we are accelerating our actions to protect our oldest and rarest forests for future generations,” said Minister of Forests Bruce Ralston. “We are using the best science and data available, and collaborating with First Nations, local communities and industry to create a stronger, more sustainable forest stewardship. New forest landscape plans reflect the generational shift in forestry, where we can depend on a strong and sustainable industry that also safeguards biodiversity and long-term ecosystem health.”
The locations of five new Forest Landscape Plans have been confirmed in partnership with local First Nations; Bulkley Valley, 100 Mile House, Williams Lake, east-central Vancouver Island and west-central Vancouver Island. These new plans will reflect the ongoing collaboration between the province, First Nations, local communities and forest companies to improve management of forests and certainty for the sector.
Since November 2021, the province has engaged with First Nations about deferring old-growth logging to protect the most at-risk old-growth forests. As a result of significant collaboration between First Nations, the forest industry and the Province, deferrals have now been implemented on approximately 2.4 million hectares of old growth in B.C., including 1.23 million hectares of the most at-risk old growth identified by the Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel.
As recommended in the Old Growth Strategic Review, logging deferrals are a temporary measure to prevent irreversible biodiversity loss, while developing the new, long-term approaches to forest management through Forest Landscape Plans.
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