Indigenous-Led Conservation



Across the country, Indigenous governments are leading the way on conservation. Some are caring for iconic places, like the old-growth forests of Gwaii Haanas off the coast of British Columbia or the thundering waterfalls of Nahanni National Park Reserve in the Northwest Territories. Some are creating new protected areas to sustain clean water, plentiful wildlife and healing plants for generations to come.

Many Indigenous governments have embraced land use planning as a tool for expressing their aspirations for their territory. Through the planning process, they determine which areas to conserve and which to open for exploration and development.

These efforts provide greater certainty for industry, clarifying where and how they can operate. They also generate historic conservation efforts. Indigenous governments have worked with Crown governments to establish national parks, UNESCO world heritage sites and tribal parks.

About 185 miles east of Yellowknife along the eastern shores of Great Slave Lake, for instance, the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nations are co-creating a national park in partnership with Canada. Called Thaidene Nene—the Land of the Ancestors—the area encompasses 3.5 million acres of boreal forest that’s home to moose, musk oxen, caribou herds, and tens of thousands of songbirds and waterfowl.

The Lutsel K’e Dene First Nations secured protections for lands four times larger than what Crown governments first proposed. They also ensured the protected areas will be managed with the help of the Ni Hat’ni Dene programs, Indigenous Guardians who monitor wildlife and cultural sites on behalf of the community.