By: The Working Forest Staff
BC GOVERNMENT NEWS — The Province and ‘Namgis First Nation have signed an agreement to partner on a modernized land use planning approach to managing the integrity of the ecosystems and natural resources in ‘Namgis territory.
Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and Don Svanvik, ‘Namgis Chief Councillor, have signed a government-to-government memorandum of understanding designed to help sustain the lands, waters, resources, and wildlife in a manner consistent with the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and B.C.’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
The agreement will guide land use planning to protect and manage the integrity of the ecosystems that sustain the lands, water resources, and wildlife the ‘Namgis rely on to exercise their Aboriginal title and rights.
The process will also support the economic and social well-being of ‘Namgis, communities, and stakeholders who use and rely on the resources contained in the project area, which extends from the mouth of the Nimpkish River to the Vernon Lake watershed on northern Vancouver Island.
The Gwa’ni Project area encompasses more than 166,000 hectares, including the majority of the Upper and Lower Nimpkish Landscape units. Most of the area is within Tree Farm Licence 37, which is held by Western Forest Products Inc.
In 2018, B.C. dedicated $16 million over three years to modernize land-use planning to help advance reconciliation efforts with Indigenous communities, support economic opportunities, and make sure the stewardship of provincial public land reflects the diverse values and interests of all British Columbians.
The next step in the Gwa’ni Project will be community and stakeholder consultation in spring 2021.