BC Conservation Fund
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.
The interim committee will design the Fund, which will be launched in the spring of 2024.
Interim Committee Members, BC Conservation Fund
Cynthia Callison (Chair) is a founding partner of Callison & Hanna Law Firm, where she has been a leading negotiator in agreements between Indigenous peoples, governments, and resource developers. Cynthia is a graduate of the Sauder School of Business and the Allard School of Law at UBC and she received a Masters in Constitutional Law from Osgoode Hall Law School. She is an exceptional public speaker and an invited presenter at dialogues on Indigenous peoples. She currently serves on a number of boards which provide leadership for revitalizing Indigenous well-being. Cynthia is a member of the Tahltan Nation whose territory is the Stikine River Watershed in northwestern BC.
Dr. Danielle Ignace is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Natural Science in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia. She is a member of the Coeur d’Alene tribe and an ecophysiologist with a passion for science communication. She studies how global change (climate change, landscape disturbance, and non-native species invasions) impacts ecosystem function and Indigenous communities. Fostering distinctive collaborations with faculty and students to understand and communicate pressing global change problems is the hallmark of her research, teaching, YouTube channel, and ArtSci projects. Dr. Ignace is also a Research Associate at Harvard Forest and serves as Associate Editor for the journal, Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene. Always seeking new ways to be an advocate for underrepresented groups in STEM, she joined the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for the American Society of Plant Biology. As an Indigenous woman in STEM, Dr. Ignace is deeply committed to developing Indigenous curriculum and her unique perspective bridges Indigenous communities, people of color, and scientists.
Garry Merkel is a Registered Professional Forester who served as the Co-Chair of the Old Growth Review Panel appointed by the Government of British Columbia. This panel conducted an extensive outreach process that received input from thousands of people across British Columbia and helped inform their final report, “A NEW FUTURE FOR OLD FORESTS, A Strategic Review of How British Columbia Manages its Old Forests Within its Ancient Ecosystems” (OGSR). Garry was asked to return as a member of a 5-person Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel responsible for conducting a technical analysis to identify deferral areas that met the criteria established in the OGSR Recommendation 6. Garry is now an independent mentor, coach, facilitator and advisor who supports the government, forest sector and ultimately the land sector of the province through this transition. Garry also has extensive foundation and program design and delivery experience as an inaugural board member of Forest Renewal BC, the Columbia Basin Trust and the Tahltan Heritage Trust. Garry is a member of the Tahltan Nation whose territory is the Stikine River Watershed in northwestern BC.
Greg Malpass grew up in Nelson BC and went to Simon Fraser University. He founded Traction on Demand, a Burnaby-based cloud technology consultancy and software development firm. For several years Traction was ranked as one of the continent’s fastest growing technology companies, moving from 20 to 100 to 800 to over 2000 employees. Greg developed an innovative way of structuring the organization to handle growth, serve clients, and attract/retain productive employees. His commitment to workplace culture and community landed Traction on Demand on Canada’s Top 10 Best Places to Work list for multiple years. Additionally, Traction was regularly listed in Deloitte’s Best Managed Companies in Canada, including as a finalist for top spot. Individually, Greg has been recognized for both his innovative leadership and expertise in cloud computing and data. Business in Vancouver named him one of the Top Forty Under 40, and awarded him with CEO of the Year for several years. Greg and his wife Michelle set up Traction for Good to support charitable organizations during Traction on Demand’s busy growth years. Greg also opened an office in Nelson to support rural community economies.
Dr. Jody Holmes has a doctorate degree in biology and has worked for more than 20 years to achieve healthy human and ecological systems in the Great Bear Rainforest. In conjunction with First Nations, she was one of the primary architects of the historic Great Bear Rainforest Agreements, protecting the largest expanses of old growth temperate rainforest in the world. Jody was the conservation sector representative at both the Central and North Coast Land and Resource Management Plans, the Coast Information Team and the EBM Working Group, the Land and Resource Forum Technical Liaison Committee and the Adaptive Management Steering Committee. Currently, Jody is the Director for the Rainforest Solutions Project (RSP), a coalition which won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge in 2016.
Kory Wilson is Executive Director of Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. She is Chair of the BC First Nations Justice Council and Co-Chair of the World Federation of Colleges and Polytechnics Indigenous Affinity Group. Kory has over 20 years of experience in post-secondary education, community development, and in the legal profession. With a deep commitment to education, justice and good governance, she knows innovative and creative solutions are a must to move Reconciliation into ReconciliACTION. She is a strong believer that education and access to knowledge are key to moving everyone forward, and that when people know better, they do better. Kory is Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach. Both nations are part of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation. She is a member of the We Wai Kai Nation.
Roy Millen is a lawyer with particular experience in Indigenous rights and title, commercial litigation, and international trade. Roy has been involved in a number of negotiations involving natural resource industries, governments, and First Nations, and is familiar with the complex and continually evolving legal framework surrounding those negotiations. Roy is recognized as a leading lawyer in a variety of industry publications.
Dr. Tara Atleo, hahuuła, is an environmental economics researcher and Indigenous sustainable development professional from the Ahousaht First Nation. Her name hahuuła translates to “one who walks/embodies the territories” and was given to her by her family as an acknowledgment of her work for and within the Ahousaht territories. She was CEO of Ahous Business Corporation/the Maaqutusiis Hahoolthee Stewardship Society and has worked in land use planning, economic development, community development and youth services for her own and other Nations. She has taken financial management courses through the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, is Financial Controller at Arrowsmith Equipment and has studied Carbon Accounting and Management. She has an undergraduate degree in Business Administration, a Masters of Science in Environmental Economics from the University of London and a Doctoral degree in Sustainability Management from the University of Waterloo.
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.
“B.C.'s parks are magnificent places where we can leave the noise and hurry of life behind and be renewed. They are where we experience what is truly beautiful and where we can cultivate wellbeing, resilience and vitality.