ForestEthics supports First Nations in asserting rights and title to protect their Territories from industrial development.
Securing the world-renowned Great Bear Rainforest Agreements would not have been possible without the efforts of First Nations to protect their land and way of life. In 2006, the government of British Columbia committed to designating over 5 million acres (2.2 million hectares) as conservancies, and in 2009 those commitments became law.
ForestEthics supported First Nations in the region to be recognized as governments with authority over their traditional territories. In 2006 British Columbia’s coastal First Nations in the Great Bear Rainforest signed Government-to-Government Agreements for land management with the provincial government . We worked with them to establish new laws to create protected areas called Conservancies and to institiute Ecosystem Based Management, a system of lighter touch logging. The conservancies prohibit industrial development, but allow First Nations’ traditional and cultural uses. Putting in place Ecosystem Based Mangement is currently underway. When fully implemented, logging will not exceed the carrying capacity of the forests – with the goal of maintaining 70% of the natural level of old forests and high levels of human well-being.
For conservation measures to be truly environmentally responsible, local communities must have access to viable economic alternatives to intensive resource extraction. We helped catalyze $120 million Coastal Opportunity Fund specifically dedicated to First Nations' conservation-based businesses and the planning and management of the protected areas in First Nations' territories.
In 2008, with support from ForestEthics, local communities and First Nations in British Columbia's Sacred Headwaters succeeded in securing a four-year government moratorium on Shell's plans to drill for coalbed methane. We applaud British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell's decision, and hope the government will permanently ban coalbed methane development in the sacred birthplace of the Stikine, Skeena and Nass rivers.