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The Narwell

CAN - Canada commits $340 million to Indigenous protected areas, guardians programs

The Canadian government is investing $340 million to support Indigenous guardians and Indigenous Protected Areas as part of its commitment to conserving 30 per cent of the country’s lands and waters by 2030.

The funding will be provided over the next five years and includes money earmarked to support the forming of a national Indigenous guardians network.

“It is heartening to see the recognition of the role of Indigenous conservation and stewardship in achieving Canada’s ambitions in terms of its biodiversity goals and certainly in terms of keeping carbon where it is, which is in the ground,” Valérie Courtois, director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, told The Narwhal in an interview.

The announcement comes days before the Liberals are expected to call a federal election and on the heels of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, an alarming indictment of humanity’s continuing role in wreaking havoc on the global ecosystem and an urgent warning that we collectively do everything possible to mitigate and slow down the irreversible and catastrophic effects of climate change.

One of the most effective ways of doing this is through nature-based climate solutions, including Indigenous Protected Areas, which effectively create huge carbon sinks when they are established.

As an example, Courtois noted the proposed Kaska Indigenous Protected Area in northern B.C. sequesters around 4.6 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Another proposal by the Délı̨nę community in the Northwest Territories would protect the Great Bear Lake watershed and over 4.5 billion tonnes of carbon, or around 20 years of Canada’s current annual greenhouse gas emissions.

“And that’s just one proposal,” Courtois said. “The reality is that the dual crises of biodiversity loss and climate change that we’re facing as a globe is one that’s going to require bold changes. That’s part of what excites me about [Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas] and guardians is that they can form an anchor or basis for a conservation-based economy.”

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This story originally appeared in The Narwhal and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.

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