A historic deal signed Friday will protect 30 per cent of B.C.’s lands and waters by 2030, which has a leading environment group ecstatic.
“This agreement is really significant for the province, Canada and other parts of the world to inspire change,” said Jens Wieting, Sierra Club BC’s senior forest and climate campaigner.
“We are getting a lot of tangible outcomes and targets we can use to hold government accountable. This must now translate to change on the ground.”
The Trilateral Framework Agreement was signed between the federal and British Columbia governments and the Indigenous-led First Nations Leadership Council.
“The nature agreement between First Nations Leadership Council and the provincial and federal governments includes key pillars that give us confidence that we can make rapid progress,” Wieting said.
With this agreement, the federal government will be contributing $500 million and the B.C. government has dedicated more than $500 million, which includes a fund for old-growth forests and the opportunity for additional funds from the philanthropic community.
“Many ecosystems are close to the brink and we need to make changes on the ground to ensure that some of these remaining intact ecosystems will still exist when we get to 2030,” Wieting said.
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The agreement includes a commitment to work together toward protecting 25 per cent by 2025, including on Indigenous protected areas.
“This is the largest investment into conservation in the history of the province, and the result of historic collaboration. B.C. now has all the tools needed to put these commitments into action in partnership with First Nations,” said Tori Ball, terrestrial conservation manager for CPAWS-BC in a release.
Premier David Eby called the nature conservation agreements a “paradigm shift” and one that includes commitments to support Indigenous leadership in the conservation of Indigenous protected areas.
“It’s about the children of generations to come and about the prosperity of British Columbians today,” Eby said.
“To solve big challenges we need to do it together and that’s what you’re seeing here today — all levels of government in partnership with First Nations.”
According to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the province will need to nearly double the amount of land protected to reach the goal of protecting 30 per cent.
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