Tripartite Framework Agreement on Nature Conservation between Canada, British Columbia, and the First Nations Leadership Council
Canada, British Columbia (B.C.), and the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) have signed a Tripartite Framework Agreement on Nature Conservation to strengthen conservation efforts provincewide. This is the first of its kind agreement involving federal and provincial governments and First Nations.
The agreement acknowledges, affirms, and enables the expression of the unique rights and interests of First Nations in the province.
The Framework Agreement includes a shared commitment to work toward true and lasting reconciliation with First Nations. This work is based on recognition and respect for shared stewardship responsibilities, the benefits of healthy ecosystems, and the inherent right of First Nations to self-determination and self-government within their territories. Canada and B.C. recognize that First Nations have been caretakers of the lands and waters in what is now called B.C. since time immemorial and are leaders in stewarding lands and waters.
Key Goals of the Framework Agreement:
Work to achieve the goals of the Framework Agreement will be consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and any related agreements, understandings, or other constructive arrangements:
- Recognize First Nations leadership in ecosystem stewardship. The agreement establishes federal, provincial, and First Nations governments as equal partners to achieve common conservations goals and priorities.
- Advance Canada and BC’s commitment to protect at least 30 per cent of B.C.’s land by 2030. The conservation and protection of ecosystems, watersheds and habitats will be realized through conservation initiatives advanced on a case-by-case basis. This could include any combination of federal, provincial, municipal, or Indigenous-led protected areas, and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) that meet national accounting standards and are reported in the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database (CPCAD).
- An actively managed, connected provincewide network of land, inclusive of, but not limited to, rare ecosystems, enduring features, biological diversity, and high cultural or ecological value persists in B.C (ex: old growth forests) is one of the Framework Agreement’s goals.
- The ecological health of landscapes and watersheds in B.C. is measurably improved through actions (e.g., designations that support conservation, restoration, enhancement, etc.) benefiting biodiversity and the well-being of First Nations and non-First Nations communities.
- The conservation and population status of species, particularly species at risk, is improved because of enhanced federal-provincial-First Nations collaboration and actions, and federal-provincial financial contributions made under this Agreement.
- Financial contributions by Canada and B.C. under this Agreement are strategically coordinated and could be directed to leverage additional provincial and third-party investments into conservation financing.
- The transparency, accessibility, reliability, integration of information management, and both scientific and traditional knowledge are improved to enable collaborative ecosystem stewardship among partners and to inform decision-makers and citizens.
Objectives in Four Key Areas
The Tripartite Framework Agreement on Nature Conservation includes objectives for protection in four key areas:
Habitat and Ecosystem Conservation and Protection
New, additional habitat and ecosystem conservation and protection in B.C. is essential for ensuring the health of priority ecosystems and supporting community and cultural interests. Early objectives include:
- Permanently protect and conserve up to 13,000 square kilometresof high-priority old-growth forests, supported by a $50-million investment from Canada that B.C. has agreed to match.
- Support First Nations’ participation in government-to-government and area-based planning, specifically where participation may lead to the establishment of new areas for protection and conservation.
- Funding First Nations-led conservation and stewardship goals, including Indigenous protected area declarations.
- Ensure our cities and towns help nature, through pilot projects in support of the National Program for Ecological Corridors.
Habitat Enhancement and Restoration
Canada, B.C. and First Nations will work together on habitat enhancement and restoration initiatives (including grasslands, wetlands, forests, riparian areas, and estuaries). Canada and B.C. will also collaborate with local communities, stakeholders, and other government agencies. Early objectives include:
- Fund new restoration activities that benefit species at risk and enrich ecosystems including tree planting through the 2 Billion Trees Program and natural climate solutions (ex: wetlands restoration) through the Nature Smart Climate Solutions Fund.
- Consult and cooperate with First Nations on implementing new restoration activities in Treaty 8 territory in B.C., aligned with restoration plans and strategies developed with and by Treaty 8 Nations.
- Cooperate to restore or enhance at least 140,000 hectares of wildlife habitat in B.C. by 2024/25, beyond regulatory requirements.
- Develop a long-term restoration framework to create an ongoing restoration program in collaboration with First Nations, industry land managers, and others.
Species at Risk Protection and Recovery
Canada, B.C., and First Nations will work together on conservation actions to address threats to biodiversity, with a focus on actions that are most likely to result in accelerated, sustained protection and recovery of species at risk. Early objectives include:
- Canada and First Nations will work with B.C. to support the recovery of spotted owls (caurina).
- Finalize a SARA-compliant recovery strategy.
- Protect ample old growth habitat to support the recovery of 250 spotted owls.
- Exploring an agreement with B.C. and First Nations to protect spotted owls.
- Augment captive breeding capacity and release of captive-bred spotted owls.
- Control competitive species such as barred owls and adaptive management of both species (spotted owls and barred owls).
- Prepare a formal update to Cabinet in 12 months to ensure accountability.
- Taking action early to address threats that could necessitate a listing under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA):
- Innovative SARA-compliant approaches to prioritizing and developing species at risk recovery strategies and action plans.
- Identify critical habitat and effective protections.
- Better alignment with other ecosystem and conservation priorities, with the goal of improved outcomes and more efficient investments of resources.
- B.C. will improve provincial, legal, and policy tools to prioritize ecosystem health, biodiversity, and the conservation and recovery of species and ecosystems at risk.
- Canada and First Nations will continue to work with B.C. to implement the recommendations of the Old Growth Strategic Review. The B.C. government commissioned the Review in 2019 to improve the province’s old growth management practices.
- B.C. will continue to work in partnership with Canada and First Nations to implement the co-developed Boreal Caribou Protection and Recovery Plan in a manner that meets federal and provincial requirements.
- Advance existing species listing and recovery planning pilot projects to ensure that listing decisions under the Species at Risk Act are informed with respect to Indigenous knowledge and perspectives, and socio-economic implications.
Foundational Knowledge and Information Sharing
Canada, B.C., and First Nations will work together to modernize federal and provincial data and knowledge systems related to the commitments in the Tripartite Framework Agreement on Nature Conservation while ensuring data and knowledge management practices support public reporting requirements. This must recognize First Nations knowledge and science while upholding and respecting First Nations data sovereignty.
Early objectives include:
- Enhancing information and data management systems to inform decision-making and advance the objectives and outcomes of the Framework Agreement.
- Developing structured reporting and evaluation guidelines to support:
- Data collection and sharing
- Evaluation of progress
- Annual public reporting
- Working together to implement and adhere to the principles of open government data within the Framework Agreement and publish data accordingly.
- Work with First Nations to improve understanding and consensual use of First Nations knowledge, knowledge systems, and Ownership, Control, Access, and Possession (OCAP) principles to foster collaboration and better inform decisions.
- Continue to collaboratively gather shared and trusted data with First Nations and identify and remove barriers to using trusted data in decision-making.
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