New funding for protected areas strengthens BC’s special role as a climate refuge for species at risk

For immediate release

Vancouver, August 19, 2019 – Today the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced federal funding for 67 conservation projects across Canada, including 27 new Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs). Among these are a number of Indigenous-led initiatives in BC, in areas important in a changing climate. The news comes just in time for a significant majority of British Columbians who are worried about climate change and see it as a major threat to future generations.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society’s BC Chapter (CPAWS-BC) applauds today’s announcement and continues to advocate for better protection of intact regions without roads, habitat for species at risk and high-value ecosystems like old growth forests and grasslands. The investment, announced this morning by Minister McKenna, is part of the Pathway to Canada Target 1 program, a $1.3 billion commitment to conserving 17% of Canada’s land and freshwater by 2020 and protecting species at risk.

“When biodiversity is protected and allowed to thrive, nature goes to work to reduce the disastrous impacts of climate change like rampant forest fires, flooding and storm surges,” says Bruce Passmore, Executive Director of CPAWS-BC. “This makes for a much healthier environment for both wildlife and British Columbians.”

Federal funding allocated to a number of BC projects acknowledges the province’s special role as a climate refuge for species at risk, birds and other animals. As temperatures warm, plants and animals migrate to stay within suitable climates. Scientists at the University of Washington have identified the Pacific Northwest, including BC, as an escape route for animals that previously lived in more northerly and southerly climates. 

“Conserving more hectares of land is a strong first step to making sure BC has enough wilderness to sustain these migrating plants and animals,” said Passmore. “But, BC needs to act fast. Indigenous communities in BC’s far north have already reported caribou altering their migration routes.”

CPAWS-BC commends funding for Indigenous-led conservation projects in the province. In a study published by UBC last month, scientists found even more birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles on lands managed or co-managed by Indigenous communities than in parks or wildlife reserves.

“When our federal government funds conservation in places like the Tla-o-qui-aht and Tahltan Territories, it not only helps protect plants and animals, but it also makes a promise to the Indigenous Peoples who fish, hunt and live on these lands and whose spiritual lives are deeply connected to these places,” said Passmore. 


For interviews:
Bruce Passmore, CPAWS-BC Executive Director, 604-685-7445 ext. 23