B.C., Ulkatcho reach land-use agreement

The Ulkatcho First Nation now is eligible to apply for funding to promote sustainable economic development.

  • Aug. 3, 2012 5:00 a.m.

The Ulkatcho First Nation now is eligible to apply for funding to promote sustainable economic development after signing a Strategic Land Use Planning Agreement governing the area known as the Great Bear Rainforest.

Ulkatcho is the latest of 29 First Nations on the Central and North Coast to sign such an agreement.

Ecosystem Based Management (EBM), adopted in 2006, defines guiding principles for the Coastal region; a high level of human well-being and low ecological risk over time. The land use agreement with Ulkatcho First Nation supports EBM by protecting key elements of old-growth forests, such as representative ecosystems, freshwater ecosystems and critical grizzly bear habitat. The agreement also supports the recognition and management of important cultural and heritage resources of the Coastal First Nations.

As part of the agreement, the Ulkatcho First Nation is now eligible to apply to the Coast Opportunity Funds for up to $577,000 to support sustainable economic development projects that are consistent with EBM land and resource management objectives. The fund was created to make the vital connection between sustainable development projects that embrace conservation and the social, cultural and economic well-being of the First Nations communities.

The area covered by the North and Central Coast Land and Resource Management Plans — also known as the Great Bear Rainforest — represents about 6.4 million hectares, more than twice the size of Vancouver Island. The total combined protected areas are approximately 2.1 million hectares, more than three times the size of Prince Edward Island.

The B.C. government says vast areas of temperate coastal rainforest — home to thousands of species of plants, birds and animals — are protected from natural resource development. Ancient cedar trees and tall Sitka spruce-lined streams will be preserved for generations to come. The region is also home to the elusive Spirit Bear, the B.C.’s official mammal.

“The Ulkatcho First Nation places tremendous importance on the Central and North Coast as a key area of our traditional territory, a sacred landscape and a vibrant ecosystem,” says Ulkatcho Chief Zach Parker. “We are encouraged by the province’s efforts to work with First Nations with respect to creating a healthy coastal economy.”

Donna Barnett, MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin, says the agreement with the Ulkatcho First Nation is an important step in the economic development of the region in a way that ensures maximum benefit to the people.

“At the same time it ensures any development is ecologically sound by protecting the delicate ecosystems and resources of the area. The agreement also provides the Ulkatcho First Nation with a role in managing this culturally significant area,” Barnett said.