Case studies reflect the changing face of conservation in Canada

TORONTO — Indigenous nations are playing leadership roles in securing biodiversity protection and conservation, according to a report released today by the David Suzuki Foundation, with technical support from the Firelight Group.

The report comes on the heels of the recently released Indigenous Circle of Experts report Pathways to Target 1, 2020, We Rise Together (2018), which advised the federal government that the creation of Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas can help achieve international protected areas targets and contribute to the spirit and practice of reconciliation in Canada.

Tribal Parks and Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas: Lessons Learned from B.C. Examples studies two emerging examples of IPCAs in Canada (Doig River First Nation’s K’ih tsaa?dze Tribal Park and the Yunesit’in and Xeni Gwet’in First Nations’ Nexwagwez?an – Dasiqox Tribal Park), as well as one of the first IPCAs ever established in Canada (Tla-o-qui-aht and Ahousaht First Nations’ Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks – Meares Island).

“ICPAs have already shaped Canada and will continue to shape conservation in this country,” David Suzuki Foundation Ontario science projects manager Rachel Plotkin said. “These are inspiring stories of Indigenous communities playing leadership roles within their traditional territories.”

The study finds that six key considerations can be addressed to effectively create and manage an IPCA: community involvement and engagement, Indigenous governance, land use and management planning, management of industrial disturbance, establishing a healthy economy for sustainable livelihoods and operational challenges. It also provides examples of Indigenous-led IPCA establishment under eight themes: clear vision and mandate, land use planning, establishing interim protection, communication, internal co-operation, relationships with other governments, opportunity for restoration as component of IPCAs, and cultural revitalization and sustainable livelihoods in IPCAs.

“Our goal is to protect the land, while finding a balance between industry, environment and wildlife. We’re not against development; it just has to be done in a sustainable way,” Doig River Chief Trevor Makadahay said. “The most important thing is to protect the land for future generations, so they can go to these spiritual places and understand their significance to our people, culture and future.”

“This report is an important step, following ICE’s We Rise Together report, to increase recognition of Indigenous protected areas in Canada. The insights shared by Indigenous experts in this report highlight their leadership in the challenging but exciting work of protecting and stewarding their lands and cultures,” the Firelight Group’s Jonaki Bhattacharyya said.

Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna stated in March 2017 that IPCAs will be part of Canada’s efforts to meet protected area targets. IPCA establishment has also been prioritized as a component of Budget 2018’s investments in nature.

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Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas turn historical protected area planning — which, in many cases, excluded Indigenous practices and, in some instances, forcibly removed Indigenous Peoples from the land — on its head. IPCAs are identified and governed (or co-governed) by Indigenous communities. The designation links Indigenous communities to the land through an active practice of Indigenous ways of life.

The David Suzuki Foundation ( is a leading Canadian environmental non-profit organization, collaborating with all people in Canada, including government and business, to conserve the environment and find solutions that will create a sustainable Canada through evidence-based research, public engagement and policy work. The Foundation operates in English and French, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.

For more information, please contact:

Brendan Glauser,, 604-356-8829