Backgrounder

Conservation Investments and Incentives Initiative Fund for the Spirit Bear Rainforest


Spirit Bear Rainforest

The Spirit Bear Rainforest represents one quarter of the world's remaining coastal temperate rainforest covering 6.4 million hectares stretching along 750 kilometers of British Columbia's coastline. The forest is home to 1,000-year-old cedar trees, 90-metre tall Sitka spruce trees, and more than 350 species of birds and animals.

Map of British Columbia showing the location of the Spirit Bear RainforestThe natural resources within the Spirit Bear Rainforest are a source of significant economic development for the region. For example, logging, fisheries and tourism are crucial to British Columbia's economy.

As part of its environmental agenda, Canada's New Government intends to invest in an innovative model of sustainable land and resource management development. This commitment will ensure that economic needs of the region are balanced with the need to preserve the Rainforest's sensitive ecosystem.

Conservation Investments and Incentives Initiative for the Spirit Bear Rainforest

The Conservation Investments and Incentives Initiative supports conservation and sustainable economic development activities over 6.4 million hectares of land in the Spirit Bear Rainforest, the largest coastal rainforest left on earth. It is the result of local communities, forest companies, First Nations, environmentalists and governments who have come together to discuss, develop and implement a responsible land management plan.

The proposed $120 million fund that supports this initiative is an investment partnership between a consortium of private foundations, the Government of British Columbia, and the Government of Canada.

Government's funding will provide financial support for both an Economic Development Fund for Coastal First Nations communities and for sustainable development initiatives. Private funds will be directed to a Conservation Endowment Fund for conservation activities.

The $30 million contribution from Canada's New Government to this not-for-profit fund would contribute to economic development projects that support job creation and business development initiatives for coastal First Nations. Such projects will take place in sectors that have potential for sustainable development including fisheries and eco-tourism. There would be strict requirements for what activities can and cannot be funded by the investment: all activities must be consistent with the ecosystem based management plans for the region.

To determine whether a Conservation Investments and Incentives Initiative project is environmentally sound and sustainable, the fund managers will consider the overall environmental impact of the project, including whether any use of natural resources involved is sustainable and whether steps have been taken to minimize the release of any pollutants. Priority will be given to projects that have positive environmental or social impacts, direct or indirect.

Examples of businesses that may be eligible include tourism, including cruises and wildlife viewing; non-timber forest products and ecosystem-based management forestry operations; green building projects, and fisheries, among others.

Activities that will not be eligible include open net-cage finfish aquaculture; trophy hunting; any activity associated with the large scale extraction of subsurface resources; and any activity that is not sustainable, with particular regard to fish and wildlife stocks in the area, among others.

As part of its funding commitment, the Government of Canada will work closely with the Government of British Columbia and private foundations to deliver results for First Nations in the coastal BC region. All First Nations whose territory lies within the Initiative's area will be formally consulted. A distinct consultation process will be established for the Haida Gwaii territory. Once such consultations are successfully finalized, and subject to Parliamentary and Treasury Board approval, Canada's New Government will proceed with the signature of a formal contribution agreement.

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