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Letter: B.C. should protect 25% of land base

Protecting B.C.’s world-renowned forests, grasslands, mountains, and rivers

B.C. should protect 25% of land base

As you read this, politicians, scientists and activists are gathered in Glasgow at COP26. The Scottish city is like a climate change ICU, where decision makers are agreeing on treatments for our feverish planet. Here in B.C., after a summer of wildfires and growing concern for salmon in decline, it’s high time to implement solutions to these crises.

One of these solutions lies right under our nose: protecting B.C.’s world-renowned forests, grasslands, mountains, and rivers in Indigenous-led protected areas and provincial parks.

There is ample scientific evidence that protecting more land — particularly, 25 per cent by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030 — is a key way we can address negative environmental impacts that British Columbians face today. Indigenous peoples have been caring for their lands and waters since time immemorial, ensuring that high biological diversity persists in their territories for generations to come.

A number of Indigenous-led conservation projects are already underway that — with support from the B.C. government — could support nature, the economy, and our health while upholding cultural and spiritual values.

The long-standing Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA) proposal from the Kaska Dena, for example, would add four per cent to B.C.’s current protected area land base of 15.5 per cent — bridging nearly half the gap between what is protected, and what should be protected.

This is why I urge the B.C. government to take climate change and species extinction seriously by promising to protect 25 per cent of its land base by 2025. The time to take action is now.

Irene Sipila

Cobble Hill

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