VICTORIA - The Ulkatcho First Nation now is eligible to apply for funding to promote sustainable economic development after signing a Strategic Land Use Planning Agreement governing the area known as the Great Bear Rainforest.
Ulkatcho is the latest of 29 First Nations on the Central and North Coast to sign such an agreement.
Ecosystem Based Management (EBM), adopted in 2006, defines guiding principles for the Coastal region; a high level of human well-being and low ecological risk over time. The land use agreement with Ulkatcho First Nation supports EBM by protecting key elements of old growth forests, such as representative ecosystems, freshwater ecosystems and critical grizzly bear habitat. The agreement also supports the recognition and management of important cultural and heritage resources of the Coastal First Nations.
As part of the agreement, the Ulkatcho First Nation is now eligible to apply to the Coast Opportunity Funds for up to $577,000 to support sustainable economic development projects that are consistent with EBM land and resource management objectives. The fund was created to make the vital connection between sustainable development projects that embrace conservation and the social, cultural and economic well-being of the First Nations communities.
The area covered by the North and Central Coast Land and Resource Management Plans - also known as the Great Bear Rainforest - represents about 6.4 million hectares, more than twice the size of Vancouver Island. The total combined protected areas are approximately 2.1 million hectares, more than three times the size of Prince Edward Island.
Vast areas of temperate coastal rainforest - home to thousands of species of plants, birds and animals - are protected from natural resource development. Ancient cedar trees and tall Sitka spruce-lined streams will be preserved for generations to come. The region is also home to the elusive Spirit Bear, the B.C.'s official mammal.
Steve Thomson, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations -
"The agreement with the Ulkatcho First Nation reaffirms our commitment to protecting this important ecosystem, including the protection of culturally significant 1,000-year-old cedars and salmon-rich streams, while ensuring that communities dependent on forests achieve social and economic benefits."
Donna Barnett, MLA Cariboo-Chilcotin -
"The agreement with Ulkatcho First nation is an important step in the economic development of the region in a way that ensures maximum benefit to the people. At the same time it ensures any development is ecologically sound by protecting the delicate ecosystems and resources of the area. The agreement also provides the Ulkatcho First nation with a role in managing this culturally significant area."
Zach Parker, Chief, Ulkatcho First Nation -
"The Ulkatcho First Nation places tremendous importance on the Central and North Coast as a key area of our traditional territory, a sacred landscape and a vibrant ecosystem. We are encouraged by the Province's efforts to work with First Nations with respect to creating a healthy coastal economy."
Merv Child, chair, Coast Opportunity Fund -
"Coast Fund awards are being used by the First Nations of the Great Bear Rainforest to lay a solid foundation for long term success. We congratulate the Ulkatcho First Nation on signing its land use planning agreement, and are looking forward to working with them to support the realization of their goals for integrating sustainable economic development with their community's ecological and social well-being."
About the Coast Opportunities Fund:
- $118 million provided by the Province of British Columbia, the Government of Canada, and six private foundations.
- Funds used for conservation-related and sustainable economic development projects.
- Funds allocated to participating First Nations.
- To date, $29.5 million for conservation-related and sustainable economic development projects has been awarded.
- Approved projects include eco-tourism and the observation and monitoring of tourism, logging and commercial fishing
More information on the Coast Opportunity Fund: http://www.coastfunds.ca/index.php
Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Forests, Lands and natural Resource Operations
Aug. 2, 2012 Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
Strategic land use planning agreements
Strategic land use planning agreements are intended to provide a framework for implementation of the North and Central Coast land use decisions on a collaborative basis between the Province and First Nations.
Twenty-nine First Nations on the North and Central Coast have signed strategic land use planning agreements with the Province:
The North and Central Coast of British Columbia is an area of global significance for its scenery, recreational opportunities and temperate rainforests. The highly productive marine and forest resources are the economic foundation of local communities.
In the late 1990s, concern about resource management in the area led to the establishment of land and resource management planning processes. These processes were intended to build consensus and find new solutions to support protection of the area's ecological integrity and provide for economic and social benefits to communities in the region.
Innovative solutions were found between First Nations, the Province, the coastal forest industry, environmental groups and local communities which have led to the implementation of Ecosystem Based Management or EBM.
Vision for sustainable development
Discussions turned to how the conservation funding commitments could be used to attract funding for sustainable economic development for the participating First Nations communities to support their ongoing use of the region's resources.
It was recognized that sustainable economic development is a vital part of ensuring the well-being of the communities. Integral to that is respect for First Nations' traditional cultural values in sustainable development, based on respect for land, resources, water and wildlife.
The implementation of ecosystem-based management is a multi-year process based on flexibility and adaptive management. The aim is to find solutions to effectively manage both human well-being and ecological integrity.
Creation of Funds
Signing the historical land use agreements with participating First Nations in the Coastal Area culminated in the establishment of the Coast Opportunity Funds in 2007, comprising the Conservation Fund and the Economic Development Fund. The fund's Board of Directors developed a strategic plan and set goals for the funds.
Access to Funds
By signing the Strategic Land Use Planning Agreement the Ulkatcho First Nation becomes eligible to seek funding from the $58 million Economic Development Fund. The Economic Development Fund is intended to support eligible sustainable businesses and community-based employment opportunities in the Coastal Area consistent with goals of conservation.
Economic Development Fund Goals:
- Increasing capacity to realize sustainable economic development opportunities, including increased access to skills development and training.
- Increasing capacity to realize sustainable economic diversification opportunities.
- Enhancing the economic infrastructure of the north and central B.C. coast to support First Nations businesses.
- Growing their economic share of commercial activities, such as shellfish aquaculture, tourism, and cultural products.
- Increasing the number of businesses owned by First Nations communities or individuals living in the Coastal Area.
- Leveraging increased investment in sustainable business partnerships.
- Contributing towards a stable or increasing population in the Coastal Area.
- Increasing participation in, and contributions towards, the provincial economy.
- Improving employment levels and decreasing unemployment rates.
- Increasing average annual incomes.
Examples of Eligible Activities for Economic Development Fund Support:
- Shellfish aquaculture.
- Technology and communications.
- Tourism, including cruises and wildlife viewing.
- Economic development capital corporations utilizing funding standards consistent with those of the Economic Development Fund.
- Mushroom harvesting.
- Non-timber forest products.
- Ecosystem-based management compliant forestry operations.
- Non-nuclear and non-carbon burning energy projects.
- Green building projects.
- Small-scale, non-toxic, subsurface rock, mineral or gem extraction.
Public Affairs Officer
Ministry of Forests, Lands and natural Resource Operations