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Historic BC conservation agreement offers over $1 billion and increased collaboration

Recognition of First Nations as a partner is monumental in new nature conservation agreement

November 3, 2023 

Unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples/Vancouver, BC – Today’s announcement of a historic Trilateral Framework Agreement for Nature Conservation (the Agreement) sets the stage for significant action to beat back the biodiversity crisis and advances a new model of leadership to advance conservation in BC.

The federal government will be contributing $500M, and the BC government has over $500M to reach the goal of protecting 30 per cent of lands and waters by 2030, and beyond. This includes a specific fund for old-growth forests and the opportunity for additional funds from the philanthropic community. The Agreement includes an important commitment to work together towards 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. BC now has all the tools needed to put these commitments into action in partnership with First Nations,” says Tori Ball, Terrestrial Conservation Manager for CPAWS-BC.

As BC works toward the goal of protecting 30 per cent of lands and waters by 2030, parallel work to support and recognize Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) must be prioritized with increased capacity, resources and coordination. CPAWS-BC is excited to see a commitment to co-develop long-term and interim measures for protecting wildife habitat and ecosystems outlined in the Agreement.

Alongside prioritizing new policy and legal pathways to support and recognize IPCAs, CPAWS-BC is also advocating for a new law that prioritizes biodiversity in all decision-making. This is a widely supported, key recommendation to protect threatened ecosystems such as ancient, old-growth forests and endangered grasslands. To ensure that this money is directed where it is needed to advance conservation, existing commitments to review and revise industry-focused resource policies and laws must be expedited to align with best practices.

“This agreement is a huge milestone and the start of major work. We know that protecting lands and waters takes time to get it right, and we need to make sure that endangered and intact landscapes are protected from immediate threats before they’re lost,” continued Ball.

BC will need to nearly double the amount of land protected to reach the goal of protecting 30 per cent. BC has 15.5 per cent of lands protected in long-term, legislated protected areas, and claims an additional 4.1 per cent in other conserved areas (OECMs). These other conserved areas do not meet the agreed-upon Canadian and international protection standards referred to in the Agreement and many can easily be moved to allow for activities harmful to biodiversity, such as logging.

“The agreement announced today provides a real dose of hope for change that can be made by empowering First Nations with additional capacity, sustainable economic growth and all governments pulling in the same direction to halt and reverse the rapid loss of biodiversity. It’s great to see BC has already launched some critical parts of this agreement such as the new $300 million fund for nature. There’s no time to lose on vital conservation initiatives,” says Ball.

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Background Facts:

  • A Canada-BC Nature Agreement was launched in February 2021 alongside commitments to support species at risk, including the Spotted Owl.
  • In December 2022, BC committed to protecting 30 per cent of lands by 2030, doubling the amount of land currently protected, and developing a conservation financing mechanism to support the protection of biodiverse areas through a mandate letter to Nathan Cullen, Minister of Water, Land, and Resource Stewardship.
  • In October 2022, CPAWS released national polling results that show the majority of Canadians support protecting much more land and sea in Canada, and that the majority consider land and ocean protection a major voting issue.


Key facts about the Framework Agreement:

  • The funding includes $500M from the Federal government and $563M from the Provincial government. This includes funding that has already been made public, such as the $300M Conservation and Stewardship Alliance Fund announced last week.
  • Canada and B.C. have committed to an Old Growth Nature Fund, with matching funding of $50M each and potential funding from third-party organizations, and work in partnership with First Nations to permanently protect and conserve 4,000 to 13,000 km2 of high-priority at-risk old growth forests.
  • Canada will fund new restoration activities that achieve high co-benefits for species at risk, ecosystem services, connectivity, and ecological corridors. Canada and B.C. will also consult and cooperate with First Nations on species at risk protection and recovery, including ongoing partnerships to implement existing, and future, co-developed species protection and recovery plans.
  • A Tripartite Nature Committee will be established with representatives from Canada, B.C., and FNLC whose roles will be to coordinate activities under the Agreement.



The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) is Canada’s only nationwide charity dedicated solely to the protection of our public land, ocean, and freshwater, and ensuring our parks and protected areas are managed to protect nature. Since 1963, CPAWS has played a leading role in protecting over half a million square kilometres. Our vision is to protect at least half of Canada’s public land and water in a framework of reconciliation – for the benefit of wildlife and people.

The CPAWS British Columbia chapter (CPAWS-BC) works to protect wilderness in every corner of BC and deep into the ocean. We have been defending BC since 1978, and are dedicated to keeping BC’s natural environment thriving forever. Nature is BC’s best hope.