Feature Recommendation: Creating & Managing Protected Areas, including Indigenous protected areas and Guardians programs

Protecting Public Lands and Freshwater

Ninety percent of land and all freshwater areas in Canada are held and managed by governments — federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous. In 2015 Canada’s federal government committed to delivering on the international interim target set under the UN  Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) of protecting at least 17% of land and inland waters by 2020 and improving the quality of protected areas. The federal government has convened and led a nation-wide effort to achieve this target and invested more than $1.3 billion over five years in nature conservation. This included creating the Canada Nature Fund to support conservation action by provincial, territorial, and Indigenous governments, conservation organizations, and other partners.

This historic investment is supporting efforts by provincial, territorial and Indigenous governments to establish new protected areas, including 55,000 square-kilometers  in the Yukon’s Peel River Watershed, 27 new protected areas in Nova Scotia, and many others, and is expected to deliver an expansion of Canada’s protected areas system from just over 12% to about 17% protection  over the next few years.

To meet the federal government’s new target of protecting  25% of land and freshwater by 2025 and 30% by 2030, continued federal leadership and more investment to support action by all levels of government and other partners will be needed.

With Canada holding much of the world’s remaining wilderness, the federal government must continue to lead and champion nature conservation and its role in our collective prosperity and well being. Canadians want Canada to lead on conservation. A recent poll commissioned by The International Boreal Conservation Campaign (IBCC)  showed that 9 out of 10 Canadians support the government’s pledge to protect 30% of our land and ocean by 2030, 80% expect Canada to be a global leader in protecting land and water, and three quarters support expanding funding to create more protected areas.

Protected areas have a proven track record in delivering tangible economic benefits.  Investing in more and better managed protected areas, including Indigenous protected areas, will support short and long-term jobs across the country, build a long-term foundation for nature-based and culture-based tourism, and contribute to stable and diverse community economies. In 2017-18, the economic impact of visitor spending at Parks Canada sites alone included a $2.6 billion contribution to Canada’s GDP, almost 28,000 full time jobs across the country, and $449 million in tax revenues across multiple levels of government.

For conservation and protected areas to be effective in conserving biodiversity and delivering other benefits to Canadians, ongoing investments must also be made in management and stewardship. One critical lesson learned from the Canada Nature Fund Challenge is the importance of committing long-term funding to steward and manage new protected areas, in addition to providing funds for their establishment. This is key to securing the support of provincial and territorial governments and communities, and to ensuring that protected areas deliver diverse economic, social and environmental benefits.

RECOMMENDED INVESTMENTS [ECCC, Parks Canada]:

1) Deliver on the federal government’s commitment to protect 25% of Canada’s land and freshwater by 2025 by investing $1.6 billion over five years:
a.  $800 million in the next two years (2020-2022)
b.  $300 million over three years (2022-2025)
c.  $100 million per year, ongoing, for management of provincial, territorial and federal protected areas

2) Lay out investment plans to deliver on the commitment to protect 30% of Canada’s land and freshwater by 2030 by committing $1.5 billion49 over the subsequent five years (2025-2030) for establishment and management of protected areas.

CONTACTS
Anna Pidgorna – apidgorna@cpaws.org
Gauri Sreenivasan – gsreenivasan@naturecanada.ca
Jay Ritchlin – jritchlin@davidsuzuki.org

Protecting Oceans with Effective MPAs

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) conserve biodiversity, sustain healthy fisheries, sequester carbon, support tourism, and provide for coastal communities. Investments in MPAs produce economic benefits significantly  greater than the cost of establishment. MPA  planning processes offer an opportunity for long term investment in coastal communities, including stakeholder support funding, local job creation (in outreach, planning and management), and indirect benefits for tourism and local businesses. Providing upfront commitments for long term investments will help ensure community support for marine protection.

Over the past five years, Canada has gone from global laggard to potential leader in terms of ocean protection. In August 2019, Canada announced that it had protected 13.8% of its ocean territory, significantly exceeding the 10% by 2020 target under the CBD. This included the protection of many iconic but vulnerable ecosystems including the Laurentian Channel, Tallurutiup Imanga and the Scott Islands. This tremendous achievement proves what can be done when there is political will and wise investment.

Recent studies have calculated that we need to protect 30-70% of the ocean to effectively protect and restore biodiversity.  In doing so we could restore the health of our oceans within 30 years with an estimated global economic return of about $10 per every $1 invested, creating more than one million new jobs. Polling shows that Canadians do not think that current levels of protection are enough. With a mandate and commitment to protect 25% of Canada’s ocean by 2025, and to achieve and advocate for protecting 30% by 2030, Canada is charting the right course.

THE GREEN BUDGET COALITION RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT:

1)  Deliver on the commitment to protect 25% of Canada’s ocean by 2025 and 30% by 2030, by establishing new MPAs and MPA networks, National Marine Conservation Areas (NMCAs), and marine Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas.

In addition to helping maintain vital ocean ecosystem services, investments in MPAs are investments in coastal communities. Establishing new MPAs would support long term job creation in remote coastal areas, investment in coastal infrastructure, and indirect benefits through goods and services provided during planning and management. Beyond establishing new sites, it is important that the government develops an official policy to support implementation of its MPA protection standards across all federal agencies.

2) Invest in the ongoing management and monitoring of MPAs.
In addition to establishing new MPAs,  it is critical that the government invest sufficient resources for ongoing management and monitoring. (Note that further recommendations on investments in management, monitoring and enforcement are provided in the subsequent section on Managing Healthy Oceans.)

RECOMMENDED INVESTMENTS [DFO, ECCC, Parks Canada]:

1) Oceans Act MPAs and MPA  network planning: $185 million over 2020-2021, and then $72 million per year ongoing.

2) National Marine Conservation Areas and marine National Wildlife Areas: $140 million over 2020-2021,  which may include stimulus funding, and then $53 million per year ongoing.

3) Management of National Marine Conservation Areas and marine National Wildlife Areas: $20 million over the next two years (2020-2022) and then $20 million per year ongoing.

CONTACTS
Alexandra Barron – abarron@cpaws.org
Gauri Sreenivasan – gsreenivasan@naturecanada.ca
Jay Ritchlin – jritchlin@davidsuzuki.org

Establishing Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas on Land and Water

Investing in Indigenous-led economic development and land/ocean-use planning, environmental stewardship programs such as Indigenous Guardians, and establishment of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) is a tested approach that will have economic, social and cultural benefits now that grow over time and help Canada meet its commitments to reduce GHG emissions, protect biodiversity, and advance reconciliation.

Tourism is just one economic driver of IPCAs. Prior to COVID-19, Indigenous tourism in Canada contributed $1.9 billion to Canada’s GDP annually, with a 20% annual growth rate, 40,000 employees and 1900 businesses. Investing in IPCAs now will provide immediate support for communities, and also put in place the planning, infrastructure, and governance structures necessary to capitalize on economic opportunities from IPCAs, such as tourism, as our economy recovers.

For example, the recent Thaidene Nëné Indigenous Protected Area was established in 2019 with a $30 million endowment that will generate $1-4 million annually and support 18 new full time jobs critical to such a remote community. Prior to COVID-19, tourism development associated with Thaidene Nëné was anticipated  to create at least 20 new year-round jobs and 30 seasonal jobs.

The Canada Nature Fund confirmed the demand for IPCAs  across Canada. The Green Budget Coalition recommends that future funding support both IPCA establishment and the upfront economic development and land/ocean-use planning that creates the overarching framework for IPCAs  and the stewardship and Guardians program that ensure their management. Such investments would accelerate IPCA development and associated economic, cultural, climate and environmental benefits.

RECOMMENDED INVESTMENT [ECCC, Parks Canada, DFO]:

Indigenous-led efforts such as the Indigenous Leadership Initiative and Land Needs Guardians are calling for significant new investments in Indigenous-led conservation. In the spirit of reconciliation, the Green Budget Coalition affirms its support for these efforts and their budget requests and thus recommends:

1) Committing to Indigenous-led conservation, including Indigenous-led land use planning, the creation of IPCAs, and stewardship programs such as Indigenous Guardians, as a vital component of Canada’s domestic plan to protect 25% of its lands and waters by 2025.

2) Investing at least $1.5 billion over five years to support the completion of Indigenous-led land use plans and the establishment of IPCAs  and their associated stewardship programs.

CONTACT
Amanda Reed – amanda.reed@natureunited.ca
Jay Ritchlin – jritchlin@davidsuzuki.org
Anna Pidgorna – apidgorna@cpaws.org

Indigenous Stewardship & Guardians

Indigenous Guardians have provided critical emergency response capacity in communities during the pandemic. Beyond the current crisis, Indigenous stewardship programs support cost-effective and local monitoring of environmental and cultural values. Indigenous stewardship programs are essential in establishing and managing IPCAs and other formal conservation designations within Indigenous territories. They create stable, well-paying jobs (often in remote communities) with numerous indirect economic benefits such as improved health outcomes, food security, and cultural and language revitalization.

An analysis of the Guardian Watchmen programs on the BC coast found a 10:1 ROI annually for numerous social, cultural and economic Indigenous values. An evaluation of the Dehcho and Akaitcho communities in the North found that between 2008-2016 Indigenous-led stewardship programs hired 32 Indigenous Guardians for an average tenure of 3.6 years.

The Green Budget Coalition recommends that the federal government significantly increase investments in Indigenous Guardians for both existing and new programs.

RECOMMENDED INVESTMENT:
Indigenous-led efforts such as the Indigenous Leadership Initiative and Land Needs Guardians are calling for significant new investments in Indigenous-led conservation. In the spirit of reconciliation, the Green Budget Coalition affirms its support for these efforts and their budget requests and thus recommends:

1) Committing to Indigenous-led conservation, including Indigenous-led land use planning, the creation of IPCAs, and stewardship programs such as Indigenous Guardians, as a vital component of Canada’s domestic plan to protect 25% of its lands and waters by 2025.

2) Investing $831.5 million over five years to support existing and new Guardians ramping up to at least $300 million per year by year 5 as requested by the Assembly of First Nations, and then $300 million per year ongoing.

CONTACT
Amanda Reed – amanda.reed@natureunited.ca