B.C., Ottawa, First Nations announce conservation agreement worth $1B

Topic(s): Environment, Reconciliation
Source: CBC News

Nature agreement to help province protect 30 per cent of lands by 2030

The federal government says it's signed its first major nature agreement with a province and First Nations to mutually support protecting 30 per cent of lands and waters by 2030.

In Vancouver on Friday morning, federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault joined B.C. Premier David Eby, several cabinet ministers from both governments and First Nations leaders to announce a $500-million commitment from both governments for an agreement that would help conserve and protect land, species and biodiversity in the province.

"This is a major step forward in support of Canada's goal to protect 30 per cent of lands and waters by 2030, which all provinces should get behind," said Guilbeault in a news release

The development of a "nature agreement" between B.C. and Ottawa was first announced in 2021 as a way to meet the goal of protecting 30 per cent of the province's landbase by 2030, while also advancing reconciliation and stewardship in partnership with the province's 200,000 First Nations people.

The agreement is meant to protect old growth forests in the province, which support at-risk biodiversity and continue to be lost to logging, support the recovery of species at risk, and restore ecosystems throughout the province.

Financing for the deal directs the use of several already announced conservation initiatives, such as B.C.'s $100-million watershed security fund and $200-million land restoration fund.

The federal government is providing new money as part of its $500 million, but also uses previously announced monies, such as a $50-million old-growth protection fund announced as part of the federal government's 2021 budget.

The federal government said Friday's announcement of the deal, called the "Tripartite Framework Agreement on Nature Conservation," is the first major nature agreement of its kind and will serve as a model of collaboration with First Nations to halt and reverse the loss of nature. 

"With mutual recognition of First Nations as the original stewards and title holders to our lands and waters, we have reached a jointly developed framework with sustained funding to achieve our collective goals for biodiversity protection, restoration and stewardship," said Chief Terry Teegee with the B.C. Assembly of First Nations in a release. Read more