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Support for nature conservation is unwavering across British Columbians, survey finds

July 2, 2024

Unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples/Vancouver, BC – British Columbians are sending an overwhelming message of support for nature conservation and environmental protections ahead of the upcoming 2024 BC election, according to a new survey. Among BC residents, 85% support the goal of protecting 30% of lands by 2030, with protecting species at risk, intact watersheds and wildlife corridors topping the charts.

“It is clear that people want to take care of the places where they live to support healthy ecosystems that will deliver more sustainable and secure futures for their families and neighbours,” says Tori Ball, Land and Freshwater Program Conservation Director with CPAWS-BC. “We know that protected areas are critical to halt the biodiversity crisis and help us adapt to a rapidly changing climate.”

  • Key findings
  • The vast majority support more protected areas on land and in the ocean.
    • 85% support the Government of BC’s commitment to protecting 30% of the province’s land and water by 2030.
    • 82% express support for creating Marine Protected Areas.
  • British Columbians feel it is important to see species at risk protected.
    • 88% feel it is important to expand protected areas where there is a high number of species at risk of extinction;
    • 86% think it is important to expand protection across both areas of natural beauty and intact watersheds and landscapes;
    • 84% feel it is important to expand protection in areas that allow wildlife to connect between different habitats.
  • A large majority of British Columbians believe some areas should be off-limits to mining and support permission requirements for mineral claims.
    • More than 7 in 10, respectively, support restricting mining in municipal drinking water sources, salmon rivers, parks and wildlife habitat areas;
    • 8 in 10 British Columbians agree that permission from landowners, municipalities and First Nations is needed for mining exploration.

Following recent expansions to the protected areas network, protected areas cover 15.8% of the land base in BC. BC will still need to nearly double current land protection to meet its 2030 target of protecting 30% of lands and waters by 2030, a critical target for halting biodiversity loss.

The survey also found that at least eight out of ten, respectively, were concerned about declining biodiversity, pollution and overfishing on BC coasts.

“The results of this survey reaffirm that British Columbians want to see bold commitments and action to protect lands, waters and wildlife as we head towards a fall election. These results lay out a path for us to move forward together and ensure we have areas safeguarded for important ecological, recreational and cultural values that thriving communities depend on,” added Ball.

Leger was commissioned to conduct this online survey of 1,001 British Columbians,
aged 19 and older between May 30 and June 10, 2024. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size yields a margin of error no greater than 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results were weighted by age, gender, and region to ensure a representative sample of BC residents.

– 30 –


For interviews contact:
Max Winkelman
Communications Manager
604-685-7445 x3


Other findings:

  • Seven in ten (71%) BC residents support the creation of more Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas in BC.
  • Conservation and wildlife experts are seen as providing the most important perspective on land use planning (86%), followed by local community/residents and landowners. First Nations perspectives have the second-highest level of “very important” support, behind conservation and wildlife experts.


What people are saying:

“Across BC’s lands and ocean, we have unique and globally significant ecosystems and British Columbians want to defend them against the multiple threats that risk their survival. Protected areas are the holistic tool BCers support and want to use to achieve this goal, not only for themselves but also for their kids and grandkids.”
– Kate MacMillan, Ocean Program Conservation Director with CPAWS-BC

“We need to do more to protect and conserve British Columbia’s fish, wildlife and habitat, and there’s strong support to make sure some areas are off-limits to mining. The province is committed to changing its free-entry staking regime from the 1850s and there’s overwhelming support that permission be required before mineral claims are granted (right now, it’s not).”
– Nikki Skuce, Director of Northern Confluence Initiative

“Respondents valued conservation and local input highly while industry was near the bottom of the list, coming only ahead of visitors and tourists. We’d love to see this reflected with land use planning being less industry focused and more emphasis on conservation and local perspectives.”
– Tori Ball, Land and Freshwater Program Conservation Director with CPAWS-BC


Organizing for Change Report 27 June 2024 - charts1

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