BC’s Incomappleux Valley conservancy secured with public-private funding

Published 00:28 on January 27, 2023  /  Last updated at 00:28 on January 27, 2023  / Joan Pinto /  Biodiversity

A non-profit Canadian conservation group along with federal and provincial governments, First Nations, and several private and individual donors announced Thursday an agreement to establish a conservancy in the Incomappleux Valley of south-eastern British Columbia.

A non-profit Canadian conservation group along with federal and provincial governments, First Nations, and several private and individual donors have announced an agreement to establish a conservancy in the Incomappleux Valley of south-eastern British Columbia.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) and the Province of British Columbia worked with First Nations whose territory encompasses the area, and Interfor Corporation who permanently released 75,000 hectares of its forest tenure in Incomappleux Valley’s rare inland temperate rainforest.

The NCC raised C$4 million ($3 mln) for the conservancy project, the firm’s spokesperson told Carbon Pulse, which includes funding from the Government of Canada through the Canada Nature Fund, C$2mln from global mining conglomerate Teck Resources, besides support from private charitable Washington-based Wyss Foundation, private philanthropy Wilburforce Foundation that operates out of Seattle, and individual donors.

“When we work together with Indigenous communities, governments, industry, and private citizens, we can achieve great results for nature. Incomappleux is an exciting example of this strategy in action,” said Nancy Newhouse, BC regional vice president at NCC.

Jonathan Price, CEO of Teck Resources touted the investment as part of the firm’s nature positive pledge. “This initiative supports Teck’s work to become a nature-positive company by helping protect nature in an area with significant biodiversity and ecological importance,” he said in an announcement.

Teck Resources has set a goal to become a nature positive company by 2030 through conserving, protecting, or restoring at least three hectares for every one hectare affected by the firm’s global mining activities.

The company’s spokesperson confirmed to Carbon Pulse in that it is currently engaged with First Nations and other groups in the regions where they operate “to explore their conservation priorities” in which they might partner, including the potential for carbon offsets and biodiversity credits, although no credits are part of this project.

“We assess biodiversity impacts and risks through vegetation quality assessment and habitat suitability index methodologies that meet international and national best practices,” Teck Resources’ spokesperson explained in detailing the company’s nature positive decision making strategy.

Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, Teck Resources is a global diversified natural resources company engaged in mining and mineral development focused on copper, zinc, steelmaking coal, and energy.

The Incomappleux River peak-to-valley landscape spans rare and diverse ecosystems of alpine forests, 1.43 mln ha of one of the few inland temperate rainforests in the world, valley bottom wetlands, streams, and lakes.

The project includes the 58,654-ha conservancy, in addition to 17,000 ha in the southern part of the valley protected from commercial timber harvest, with some old-growth cedar and hemlock trees estimated to be four metres in diameter and between 800 to 1,500 years old, the statement noted.

The forest also supports more than 250 lichen species, including some that are new to science, several species listed on the federal Species at Risk Act, and provides habitats for grizzly and black bears, as well as a variety of endangered fungal and plant species, the provincial government detailed in its statement.

“The rich and unique biodiversity of the Incomappleux Valley makes this one of the most significant protected areas established in the province in a decade,” said George Heyman, BC’s minister of environment and climate change strategy.

The BC government explained that the Incomappleux Valley was one of the nine areas where harvesting was immediately deferred in Sep. 2020 on release of the province’s Old-Growth Strategic Review to allow First Nations, the province, and other partners to develop new approaches to sustainable forest management that prioritises ecosystem health and community resiliency.

Indigenous Shuswap Band chief and council noted that the licence transfer and commitments by government to work collaboratively on managing these areas presented an opportunity for the Shuswap Band to demonstrate stewardship of lands and resources that would benefit all and future generations.

The First Nations community consulted with the province on visioning and management planning for the conservancy, sharing their knowledge and expressing their interests in the land, NCC’s spokesperson told Carbon Pulse.

In total, BC has 158 conservancies, ranging in size from 11 ha to 322,000 ha, established to enable the continuation of traditional Indigenous uses, however commercial-logging, mining, and hydroelectric power generation other than local run-of-the-river projects are prohibited.

The province has a total of 1,037 provincial parks, recreation areas, conservancies, ecological reserves, and protected areas, covering more than 14 mln ha or approximately 14.4% of the land base, making it one of the largest park systems in North America.

Through partnerships, NCC has supported the conservation of more than 15 mln ha of land since 1962, conserving habitats for 244 species at risk, while storing nearly 2 bln tonnes of CO2 in across lands that sequester another 3.2 million tonnes every year.

It has also developed nature-based solutions in the voluntary carbon markets, raising over C$4 mln for 700,000 offsets towards its Darkwoods Forest carbon project in 2011. The project has garnered C$15 mln as of early 2021, as detailed on NCC’s website.

Last summer, ratings agency BeZero awarded the Darkwoods project, accredited by Verra (ID 607), with an AA- rating.

By Joan Pinto – joan@carbon-pulse.com

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