Climate change and biodiversity loss exacerbates the challenges faced by First Nations across BC, including economic marginalization, even though their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is minimal. Land-based carbon offsets projects are a potential source of economic development to First Nation communities in BC align with ecosystem based management practices and reflect their jurisdiction in protecting and stewarding their territories.
The B.C. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (the Declaration Act) requires BC to make all laws consistent with the United Nations’ Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration) and co-develop an Action Plan with rights holders. At the same time, BC has committed to economic reconciliation with First Nations. Contrary to these commitments and goals, the draft BC FCOP V2.0 (the Protocol) severely limits economic options for First Nations communities. In its current form, the draft BC FCOP V2.0 represents a lost opportunity for BC’s relationship with First Nations.
Though arguably outside the scope of the Protocol, it is worth noting that a majority of forest carbon projects to be developed by First Nations in BC will require an Atmospheric Benefit Sharing Agreement. This will introduce a further net-down to offsets received by a community that develops a forest carbon project. The Crown should be alert to the undesirable situation where a quality forest carbon project would be yielded un-economic based on net-downs that are not necessary to protect environmental integrity of carbon accounting.
The final BC FCOP V2.0 must provide clear direction on First Nations’ led carbon projects. At present, there is a fundamental absence of information within draft Protocol as to how First Nations can develop forest carbon projects in their traditional territories.
This document was prepared with contributions from Martin Watts, RPF, Dave Daust, RPF, Ecotrust Canada, NatureBank, Bluesource, and IETA: