Photo: Adam Combs
Join the 30×30 movement
When given adequate protection to thrive, Nature supports healthy wildlife and resilient communities. It’s the common ground that sustains us all.
Yet Nature is at a breaking point and we’re seeing the effects of continued degradation throughout BC. From threatened Grizzly bear populations and dwindling caribou numbers to critically endangered northern spotted owls, biodiversity is declining faster than ever before.
BC to protect 30% of lands by 2030
Good news! In partnership with Indigenous Nations and communities, the BC government has committed to protecting 30% of lands by 2030.
We’ve worked hard to advocate for this commitment, and now it’s time to hold the government accountable to meeting these important targets.
How are we doing?
Protected areas cover 15.6% of the land base in BC, meaning the province will need to nearly double current land protection to meet its 2030 target.
In addition, the BC government includes Other Effective Conservation Measures (OECMs). These are areas that weren’t set aside to protect ecosystems and have often been wrongly included in the tally of total protected areas. A community watershed is a good example of this.
This false accounting adds an extra 4% to reach 19.6%. You can learn more about this from CPAWS-BC’s 2021 report, An Honest Accounting.
Support Indigenous-Led Conservation
Research affirms that biodiversity thrives on lands and protected areas managed by Indigenous Peoples. As stewards of these natural environments since time immemorial, they hold intimate knowledge and understanding of the relationship between land, water, wildlife and people. Indigenous Nations across the province are already taking bold action to address biodiversity loss and conserve ecosystems through Indigenous governance and knowledge systems. New approaches to conservation are being imagined, stewardship initiatives are being launched, and Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) are being declared.
Did you know? Indigenous Nations can establish IPCAs under their inherent rights and laws, but provincial and federal governments lack the legal frameworks required to recognize them as protected areas.
Supporting Indigenous-led conservation presents an important opportunity for the BC government to increase land protection in a way that upholds Indigenous rights and advances provincial commitments to reconciliation. This includes:
- Co-developing protected areas with Indigenous Nations
- Establishing a legal framework to recognize IPCAs
- Providing continued resources to support Indigenous Guardian programs across BC
Apply Rigorous Standards to all Protected Areas
Not all protected areas in BC are equal. While 15.6% of the province’s landbase is protected by robust designations like provincial parks and conservancies, the other 4.1% claimed as OECMs remains vulnerable to activities that directly harm biodiversity. Unlike protected areas and conservancies, OECMs can be established for objectives outside of conservation as long as management practices provide some level of Nature protection. OECMs must meet clear national and international criteria to be effective, ensuring Nature is adequately protected. This is where BC falls short.
Did you know? Old Growth Management Areas (OGMAs) are one of three designations that BC claims as OECMs, and they cover nearly 1.5 million hectares of land. Many OGMAs don’t actually contain old growth forests because they operate as rotating reserves, meaning they are harvested on a rolling 80-year cycle. While industrial activity may be limited to specific areas during certain times, logging, oil, gas and road-building is still permitted in OGMAs, allowing continued destruction of important wildlife habitats.
The BC government needs to scrub its protected area accounting and apply rigorous standards across the board. False reporting inflates BC’s protected areas total and pulls potential away from other proposals and areas that will be more effective at safeguarding biodiversity. Although OECMs that meet the required standards can be valuable in some cases, Indigenous-led conservation and protected areas are the most effective tools to achieve 30% by 2030.
Prioritize Resilient Networks of Protected Lands
Biodiversity is being lost at a staggering rate due to continued habitat destruction. From industrial development to climate change, landscapes around us are constantly changing, forcing animals to move and adapt in new ways. Wildlife needs large, connected landscapes in order to thrive.
Did you know? There are 55 Grizzly bear populations in BC and 60% of these are threatened with extinction. Grizzly bears rely on large tracts of wild habitats to forage for food throughout different seasons. As they feed and roam from rocky rivers to forest floors, rich nutrients are deposited back into the earth, supporting a much broader network of life.
Natural habitats are shrinking and increasingly fragmented by roads, extraction sites and natural disasters. This leaves wildlife isolated to smaller tracts of wilderness, reducing their access to food sources, breeding potential and safe places to seek refuge. As the keystone Grizzly bear demonstrates, when one species becomes threatened ripple effects are felt throughout entire ecosystems.
As BC develops new protected areas, it’s critical these are strategically established to form larger networks of wilderness landscapes that will serve as wildlife corridors. Protecting large and interconnected lands and waters will place us all on a path to a more resilient and vibrant future.
Support Kaska Dena’s work to protect Dene Kʼéh Kusān, the largest intact landscape in BC. This proposed Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA) would protect nearly four million hectares of wilderness lands abundant with wildlife like caribou, moose and song birds. [Learn more]
Nature is in crisis. We are in crisis. To ensure nature and people thrive in the future, all levels of government must address the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.
Here in BC, we need an action plan that prioritizes well-managed, interconnected and Indigenous-led protected areas to achieve 30% protection by 2030.
Send a letter to the BC government and tell them you want to see them work together to support Indigenous-led conservation and protect Nature. BC’s biodiversity and our health depends on it.