The Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) is a transboundary Canada–United States not-for-profit organization that aims to connect and protect the 3,400-kilometre Yellowstone-to-Yukon region.

We are recommending that the Government of British Columbia prioritize the establishment of a mandate to advance Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs).

In the lead up to Budget 2023/24, Y2Y recommends the Government of B.C. establish a dedicated funding program, with associated policy pathways, for First Nations communities to pursue Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs). Ensuring IPCAs are well-funded and supported with clear policy direction is an opportunity for the Government of B.C. to fulfill its Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act commitments to involve First Nations in land-use planning and conservation.

Y2Y is already engaged with First Nations partners to build strategies and support for Indigenous-led conservation proposals and declarations in northern British Columbia, including but not limited to those by Kaska Dena Council, and Tsay Keh Dene Nation. We also work with a range of partners and stakeholders in B.C., including the Fish, Wildlife, and Habitat Coalition and Organizing for Change, to help set the foundation for 25×25 goals provincially.

Nature Agreement: An opportunity for British Columbia

By establishing a mandate to advance Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) in B.C. it helps to align with the Government of B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Action Plan’s commitment to “collaborate with Indigenous partners on issues related to conservation and biodiversity in B.C.”

The Nature Agreement will unlock on-the-ground action to halt species and biodiversity loss in partnership with Indigenous people and help create the opportunity for B.C. to take a global leadership role in supporting IPCAs.

The success of the federal-provincial Nature Agreement will be an important step forward for B.C. and help facilitate provincial recognition of Indigenous land-use/land-relationship planning, while also working towards the federal government’s commitments to protect 25% of lands and oceans by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

What is an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area?

Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas, or IPCAs, are clearly defined protected areas that can include both lands and waters governed by First Nations in partnership with a provincial or federal government. 

IPCAs elevate Indigenous rights and responsibilities through co-management. Indigenous governments play the primary role in protecting and conserving ecosystems and cultural values through their laws, governance structures, and knowledge systems. This model allows for long-term, Indigenous-led land-use and land-relationship planning.

IPCAs enable Indigenous approaches to building sustainable local economies, for example through, conservation-based businesses, Indigenous Guardians programs, cultural and eco-tourism businesses, clean energy and so on.