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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 13  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 39-50

Conservancies in Coastal British Columbia: A New Approach to Protected Areas in the Traditional Territories of First Nations

School of Resource and Environmental Management, Faculty of Environment, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Murray B Rutherford
School of Resource and Environmental Management, Faculty of Environment, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.161219

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In British Columbia (BC), Canada, the provincial government and First Nations have recently created an innovative new form of collaboratively managed protected area. Designated as 'Conservancies' under the BC Park Act or the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act, these protected areas are intended to provide a variety of sustainable uses, while maintaining biodiversity and recreational values and prohibiting large-scale commercial or industrial development. Conservancies evolved out of a desire to increase the protected area land base in the province, but also to accommodate traditional Aboriginal land uses and low-impact economic development. The Conservancy designation was created in 2006, and since then 156 Conservancies have been established in BC, covering a total of approximately 2,999,000 ha managed in collaboration with more than 30 First Nations. In this article, we describe the history and management framework of Conservancies, and compare the Conservancy model with international principles for governance of protected areas involving Indigenous people. Despite potential challenges involving integrated management, capacity, allocation of permits among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal users, and treaty negotiations, Conservancies appear to align well with international norms and offer a promising model for flexible protected areas.

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