International Support for Dehcho First Nations and Indigenous-Led Conservation

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A member of the Dehcho K’éhodi Indigenous Guardians program monitors water quality. Photo credit: Amos Scott.

October 31, 2018: The International Boreal Conservation Campaign welcomes the Wyss Foundation’s $1 billion commitment to help protect the lands, animals and waters that support life on this planet. IBCC applauds the foundation’s focus on supporting on-the-ground conservation work, in particular the Dehcho First Nations’ management of the Edéhzhíe Dehcho Protected Area/National Wildlife Area.

The Dehcho First Nations have led the effort to conserve Edéhzhíe, a sweep of more than 14,000 square kilometres of boreal forest and clean waters west of Yellowknife. The foundation’s investment of $750,000 over three years will help the Dehcho establish a team of Indigenous Guardians to monitor and manage Edéhzhíe.

IBCC has partnered with the Dehcho for more than 15 years. The campaign helped support the Dehcho’s path-breaking land use plan, and it drew inspiration from the plan to create the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework, a vision for sustaining the Boreal Forest endorsed by 1,500 scientists, scores of business, Indigenous leaders and nations and conservation groups. IBCC also supports the Dehcho K’éhodi Indigenous Guardians, the program that will be expanded with Wyss funding so the Dehcho can manage Edéhzhíe according to Dene culture and western science.

IBCC is currently working with many Indigenous Nations that are proposing, creating and managing Indigenous protected areas across the boreal—places like Edéhzhíe. The Indigenous Leadership Initiative, a partner in IBCC, works at the local and national levels to advance this Indigenous-led conservation.

Indigenous-led conservation reflects communities’ values and vision for the land. It also provides the most effective way for Canada to reach its goal of protecting at least 17% of lands and freshwaters by 2020.

The Wyss Foundation’s investment in Edéhzhíe is testament to the power of Indigenous-led conservation. The foundation’s Campaign for Nature is dedicated to expanding protected areas around the globe primarily by supporting local and Indigenous-led projects such as the Dehcho guardians.

The Campaign for Nature is also calling on the international community to commit to protecting at least 30% of lands and waters by 2030. If Canada achieves these targets by partnering with Indigenous Nations, it can unleash a new era in conservation: one that is defined by Indigenous Peoples’ leadership on the land.

News ReleaseCarly Pearlman