By Julia Magsombol 

Local Journalism Initiative 

[email protected]

On November 3, the provincial and federal governments and the First Nations Leadership Council reached an agreement of $1 billion funding for Indigenous-led conservation initiatives in B.C.  

“The tripartite Nature Agreement is truly the first of its kind,” said Robyn Duncan, the executive director of Wildsight. 

She noted this is an agreement with Canada, B.C. and First Nations Leadership that commits to a wide range of conservation actions to achieve 30 per cent protection of lands and waters by 2030 through Indigenous-led conservation. 

Importantly, the agreement includes an announcement of $1 billion to support conservation, she pointed out. 

Duncan said the agreement is to make up for conservation in the city as B.C. faces triple threats of climate change, loss of biodiversity, and added pollution.

According to Duncan, wildlife populations have plummeted nearly 70 per cent in the last 50 years.

“Across Canada, habitat loss and fragmentation, industrial pressure, and climate change are all impacting wildlife populations,” she added. 

Duncan pointed to significant declines in wildlife populations, explaining that seven local mountain caribou herds have gone locally extinct in the last 10 years. The main reason for this decline is habitat loss. 

The Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats have also experienced these declines. 

“This agreement could signal a turning point for our region,” she said. 

Duncan explained that through the agreement, the  $1 billion allocation must be used to achieve the goals of the Nature Agreement, which are centred around the 30 per cent protection of lands and waters. 

She stated that $300 million is allocated towards a conservation financing mechanism — a core tool that will support new conservation initiatives such as Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, (IPCAS), capacity building for First Nations, stewardship and guardian programs, and support for low-carbon economic opportunities. 

The Nature Agreement focuses on Indigenous rights, knowledge and leadership. It recognizes that Indigenous-led conservation is the pathway to 30 by 30, a worldwide initiative for governments to designate the protection of 30 per cent of Earth’s land and oceans by 2030. 

“Across B.C. we have seen numerous Indigenous nations declaring IPCAs to protect ecological and cultural values. The Nature Agreement opens the door to formalize these declared IPCAs and establish new IPCAs, like the Qat’muk IPCA in the Jumbo Valley created in 2019 by the Ktunaxa  in B.C. and Canada.” 

Duncan continued that we have a great opportunity to restore and protect the wildlife, clean water and landscapes. 

However, she also noted that we may lose more if we don’t take action now. The government has made incredible efforts in this project, but Duncan said immediate interim measures must also be taken. 

“I am hopeful that we will see the funding result in a fundamental paradigm shift towards greater Indigenous-led conservation that makes space for nature and supports all living things,” she added. 

Duncan gives many thanks to B.C., Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Summit and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. See