Shell Canada will be providing funding to plant more than 800,000 trees west of Williams Lake.
The Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) announced Nov. 12 it will be jointly undertaking a reforestation project with the oil and gas company in Tsilhqot’in territory where the 2017 wildfires left a charred landscape.
“It’s exciting news,” TNG tribal chair Chief Joe Alphonse said.
Alphonse sits on what is known as the “Champions Table” created by former B.C. regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations Shane Gottfriedson to work with industry towards the development of policy, pilots and best practices.
Tsilhqot’in communities such as Alphonse’s Tl’etinqox, located about an hour’s drive west of Williams Lake, were devastated by wildfires in 2017 which burned over 1.2 million hectares in B.C.
Tsilhqot’in owned forestry company Central Chilcotin Rehabilitation (CCR) will manage the project.
“When CCR was formed, these types of projects are what we hoped were going to be the result,” Tsideldel First Nation Chief Otis Guichon said in a news release.
Alphonse agreed with TNG vice-chair Jimmy Lulua, who stated the joint partnership demonstrates the “meaningful work that can be done when private businesses and corporations engage with First Nations and recognize their Aboriginal Title.”
“We’re going to continue to explore and look for innovative ways to create opportunities and to bring the forest back to a natural stand which is going to be of interest to everyone,” Alphonse said.
Shell Canada media communication manager Tara Lemay said their president and country chair, Michael Crothers, first met with Alphonse through the Business Council of B.C.
“Entering into this project with the Tsilhqot’in aligns with Shell’s Commitment to Indigenous Peoples in Canada policy, jointly seeking opportunities to work together for mutual benefit,” Lemay said in an email.
“With the potential for future carbon credits through reforestation, the Tsilhqot’in Nation is supporting Shell’s ambition to be a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050 or sooner, in step with society.”
The planting is set to begin in spring 2021.
Shell is planning to globally invest $200 million USD in 2020 and 2021 directly in natural ecosystems to act on climate change.