A new approach: Conservation and Community Investment
Clayoquot Sound’s renowned wilderness has placed it at the forefront of leading conservation initiatives. However, in reality, little progress has been made in protecting Clayoquot’s remaining ancient forests or in advancing the title, rights and community aspirations of the region’s First Nations. With few economic alternatives being implemented, and with debt accumulated by buying out forestry tenures, there is growing pressure for First Nations leaders to allow logging in some of Clayoquot’s last remaining intact rainforest valleys. However, there are solutions.
An approach called “conservation and community investment” was used as part of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements – a far-reaching agreement between environmental groups, First Nations, industry and the province on the north and central coasts of BC – and may provide a model for solutions in Clayoquot Sound.
In the Great Bear Rainforest Agreements, intact forest areas were legislated as conservancies – a protected-area designation specifically designed to respect First Nation traditional uses – and funds were raised from philanthropists and the federal and BC governments to assist First Nations communities in building local economies not dependent on logging these old-growth forests.
This approach to conservation is grounded in an understanding that conservation and community well-being are both essential to a long-term solution. It is a just and equitable model of conservation that could be applied in Clayoquot Sound.