Kanaka Member and old growth forest

Environment

Protecting Canada's endangered ecosystems through conservation finance

May 10, 2024

Canada is home to some of the world's most diverse and unique ecosystems, yet they face imminent threats from human activities and the impacts of climate change. In response to this pressing issue, the registered charity Nature-Based Solutions Foundation (NBSF) has embarked on a groundbreaking initiative in collaboration with land-embedded communities, including Indigenous communities, and partners to safeguard nature through conservation finance.

View up Kwoiek Watershed

Understanding conservation finance

Conservation finance is a strategic approach that involves allocating resources to strengthen conservation efforts while simultaneously investing in sustainable economic activities that support the protection and stewardship of nature. This innovative model encompasses a range of initiatives, including eco and cultural tourism, renewable energy projects, sustainable seafood practices and carbon offset programs, all aimed at fostering sustainable economic alternatives to resource extraction.

Driving change through collaboration

The NBSF, an organization dedicated to conserving Canada's most endangered ecosystems, is helping develop and establish new protected areas in collaboration with communities deeply connected to the land. Their mission extends beyond safeguarding these ecosystems for future generations; it also focuses on enhancing their economic value through protection. By collaborating with communities, the NBSF supports their transition to resilient conservation-based economies that operate in harmony with nature.

In 2023, TELUS supported the NBSF in developing a Biodiversity Protection Standard. This groundbreaking tool aims to recognize and promote effective and lasting protection of at-risk biodiversity-rich ecosystems across the country. “Developed in collaboration with some of the world’s top conservation biologists, we are so excited for the critical niche this Standard will fill in efforts to curb the extinction crisis” says Hania Peper, National Programs Manager at the Nature-Based Solutions Foundation. She continues, “By providing key science-based metrics for high-impact conservation initiatives, the Biodiversity Protection Standard can help Canada meaningfully reach its 30% by 2030 protected areas targets.”

Hania Peper, National Programs Manager at the Nature-Based Solutions Foundation, with Old-Growth Big Leaf Maple

Aligning with Indigenous values

Another important component of the Biodiversity Protection Standard is the incorporation of criteria that hold significant cultural value for Indigenous communities. Additionally, the Standard prioritizes shared decision-making, ensuring that conservation projects align with the cultures of Indigenous communities. In a landmark collaboration with the Kanaka Bar Indian Band, the Standard is being applied to the T'eqt'aqtn Indigenous Protected & Conserved Area (IPCA), underscoring the importance of Indigenous knowledge in conservation initiatives.

Through the deployment of conservation finance, the NBSF is working hand in hand with the Kanaka Bar Indian Band to help them establish their 320-square km T'eqt'aqtn IPCA, located south of Lytton in BC. This collaborative effort aims to address critical conservation funding gaps, focusing on community capacity building, stewardship funding and the development of sustainable economic alternatives aligned with conservation goals and Indigenous cultures. By creating sustainable businesses and jobs, this approach paves the way for communities to transition to resilient and diversified economies, ensuring the protection of at-risk areas.

“The IPCA gives us the opportunity to explore development of sustainable economic alternatives to industrial resource extraction, like eco-tourism, which funding and support from the Nature-Based Solutions Foundation will also help us achieve,” explained Chief Jordan Spinks of the Kanaka Bar Indian Band. “With the IPCA, we are able to assert our sovereignty over our lands by re-establishing traditional stewardship and governance practices.”

Kanaka Bar Land Guardian looking at Fraser River

A path to a sustainable future

Protecting Canada's endangered ecosystems is not just an environmental imperative but a cultural and economic necessity. Investing in conservation, sustainable development, and mitigating the impacts of climate change are all valuable contributions that businesses can make advancing a more sustainable future. NBSF and its partners, including TELUS, are creating a unique model that showcases the value of collaboration and engagement. This approach serves as an important example as Canada aims to expand its protected areas system to meet its conservation and climate targets.

Join us in making our planet healthier at telus.com/restoration.