BC Parks Foundation and Province of BC pledge $300 million to tackle biodiversity loss in collaboration with First Nations
The BC Parks Foundation and the Province of BC jointly announced funding to improve biodiversity and climate security in BC in collaboration with First Nations.
The Province of BC committed $150 million, and the BC Parks Foundation commits to secure an additional $150 million through its crowdsourcing and partnership model.
The commitment is part of a unique 'made in BC' public-private partnership approach where the Foundation guarantees the matching funds to the Province, donors can contribute to projects knowing their dollars will be matched by Provincial funding, and First Nations and other partners can propose projects knowing long term stable funding is available.
Funds will be managed within the Foundation and overseen independently from government by a Strategic Oversight Committee made up of experts, half of whom will be First Nations.
An interim committee will design the Fund, which will be launched in the spring of 2024.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why does BC need a Fund to address biodiversity loss and climate change?
- Who will the Foundation work with to match the provincial government's contribution?
- Is there a timeline to secure the matching funding?
- How will the Strategic Oversight Committee be chosen?
- Has anyone specific joined the Strategic Oversight Committee yet?
- Does the fund have specific goals to improve biodiversity loss and reverse climate change?
- How much land is already protected in BC?
- Will this funding support Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas?
- Will these new protected areas still be available for British Columbians to enjoy?
- What is the "conservation financing mechanism"?
- Where can British Columbians donate to the Fund?
Biodiversity is often called the engine of our planet. It is the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and microorganisms, as well as their gene pools and their ecosystems, that make up life on earth. Biodiversity supports life both in local areas and over the entire Earth.
If you lose biodiversity where you live, you not only lose the species you love and their invaluable genetic diversity, but you also endanger your own health. Without biological diversity, you cannot breathe, drink, eat or survive.
Wildfires, flooding, and pest or disease outbreaks are examples of catastrophes that can result when our relationship to nature is out of balance.
Biodiversity loss also affects our jobs and economy. The World Economic Forum identifies biodiversity loss and climate change as urgent global threats.
Many scientists believe the Earth is now experiencing more loss of biodiversity than at any time since the age of the dinosaurs. A recent index of animal life on Earth showed that, on average, the populations of almost 4,400 monitored mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish declined by 69% percent between 1970 and 2022.
B.C. has more biodiversity than anywhere in North America, with more than 50,000 species from the Pacific Ocean to the height of the Rocky Mountains. But it also has the highest number of species at risk. Only about 7.6% of B.C.’s native species have been assessed for their conservation status. Of those that have been assessed, 49% were of provincial or global conservation concern as of 2006 (the last time a study was conducted). If we don’t protect more of British Columbia, it is likely that many species will not survive this century.
Fortunately, it is not too late to act. The good news is that by creating more protected areas, restoring nature, and increasing awareness and education, we can prevent extinctions, mitigate climate change, and have healthier landscapes and people with a strong economy. We can make a difference if we act now. That’s why this Fund is so important.
The Foundation will make it possible for all British Columbians, other Canadians, and people from around the world to contribute to projects supported by the Fund. Individuals, businesses, family foundations, philanthropists, and others interested in making a difference can either add to the Fund as a whole or choose and contribute to individual projects that they want to support.
Matching occurs every time money leaves the Fund for a project, or every time money enters the Fund. There is no deadline on the Fund and the intention is for it to be sustained, reliable, long-term funding through investment and other measures.
An open call for members will be issued and members will be chosen and appointed by the BCPF Board based on their individual qualifications and contributions to the roles needed on the Committee. A minimum of half of the committee members, including the Chair or Co-Chair, will be individuals from First Nations whose territories are in British Columbia. In addition to the members appointed to the Committee, the Committee will include an ex-officio representative of the provincial government.
The Committee members will be chosen over the next six months. An interim committee will be appointed to gather input and design the Fund during that time. Cynthia Callison, Vice Chair of the Foundation, will serve as chair of the interim committee.
The longer-term committee, which will be announced with the launch of the Fund in six months, will be responsible for implementing the Fund.
The Fund will support the protection of biological and ecological diversity in B.C. and advancement of the goal of protecting 30% of BC by 2030 (30x30) in a manner that considers climate change, is consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and promotes First Nations governance or co-governance, including First Nation-led conservation.
The 30x30 goal will be measured by additions to the protected areas database through protected area designations or designations that are Other Effective Conservation Measures (OECMs).
Once the Committee is established, it will be guided by a strategic plan including a vision, goals and targets to protect biodiverse areas throughout B.C. in collaboration with First Nations.
Approximately 15.6% of British Columbia’s landbase is currently protected, including approximately 14.7 million hectares of B.C.’s provincial and federal parks and protected areas. There are approximately 3.8 million hectares considered to be Other Effective Conservation Measures, bringing the total to 18.5 million hectares or 19.6% of British Columbia.
Area-based conservation initiatives supported by the Fund will be led by or have the free, prior and informed consent of First Nations title and rights holders or delegated First Nation Organizations and provide opportunities to advance co-management of those conserved and protected areas. They will align with a government to government agreement related to land use to guide the investment.
Specific details, such as the use of and access to protected areas by British Columbians, will be unique to each conservation area and will be determined through planning processes that lead to designations and management plans.
A “Conservation Financing Mechanism” is a structure that leads the pursuit of conservation financing, including holding, investing, administering, leveraging, and disbursing funding to support conservation initiatives in B.C. The new Fund is the “conservation finance mechanism. The BC Parks Foundation is responsible for overseeing and administering the Fund.
- Conservation financing does not result in changes to the land status but brings in the financing necessary to allow for conservation, restoration, and planning activities to be undertaken and implemented.
- Conservation financing strengthens partnerships to identify and designate areas to be protected for nature conservation purposes.
- Conservation financing is a tool that will help enable conservation measures with First Nations and is also consistent with the Province’s commitment to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
British Columbians can contribute to the Fund through the BC Parks Foundation. Donations can be made online on our website by selecting the BC Conservation Fund from the drop-down menu. You can also call Casey Walker at 604-343-3975 ext. 121 to find out more ways to donate.