First Nations conservation visions create historic moment in Clayoquot Sound

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Wilderness Committee

An aerial shot of Clayoquot Sound. End of image description.

Environmental groups congratulate Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and thank them for their leadership in this iconic region

Today, Ahousaht, Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, and the BC government announced 76,000 hectares of new conservancies in Clayoquot Sound, nearly doubling the protected old-growth rainforest within the iconic region. The Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance applauds the Ahousaht and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and is grateful for their visionary leadership in safeguarding the biodiversity of this globally unique forest. We also applaud the Province of British Columbia for taking this step in supporting the Ahousaht and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation’s land use visions.

This historic milestone, years in the making, will protect much of the remaining old-growth rainforest in Clayoquot Sound and support the development of sustainable economic opportunities for the Nations toward conservation and community well-being. This model and the leadership of the Ahousaht and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation can serve as inspiration for people and communities across British Columbia and around the world.

The people of Ahousaht and the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation have taken care of this region for millennia, and in recent decades have really shown the modern environmental movement what standing up for interconnected forests, salmon and human communities is all about. 

— Torrance Coste, Associate Director, Wilderness Committee 

While today’s announcement marks a historic milestone, more work remains to address threats to Clayoquot Sound’s vital ecosystems and communities, including the potential for mines in the region and the need for funding to manage these protected areas to ensure long term ecosystem health.

The Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance is an alliance of five environmental organizations: Canopy, Friends of Clayoquot Sound, SierraClub BC, Stand. Earth, Wilderness Committee.

“The people of Ahousaht and the Tla-o-qui-aht Nation have taken care of this region for millennia, and in recent decades have really shown the modern environmental movement what standing up for interconnected forests, salmon and human communities is all about," said Wilderness Committee Associate Director Torrance Coste. Their leadership is grounded in lands and waters here but is of truly global significance, and we couldn’t be more grateful to them.”

“We are deeply grateful to the Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation for their leadership over many decades as they worked to implement conservancies on the territories they have stewarded for millennia. Their vision for the long-term economic and social well-being of their communities, including safeguarding intact old growth rainforest, is inspiring,” said Shelley Luce, Campaigns Director for Sierra Club BC. 

"This is a huge environmental justice victory for Clayoquot Sound thanks to the leadership of the Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. We have been working in solidarity with the local Nations since the 1970s, and today we celebrate these conservancies as a significant increase that almost doubles the protected areas for Clayoquot Sound to support greater ecosystem and community health,” said Jeh Custerra, Director of Environmental Justice for Friends of Clayoquot Sound. “From here, the work remains ongoing to have all levels of government continue to expand protected areas by acknowledging the Nations' visions, especially by permanently stopping mining from developing in Clayoquot Sound.”

“Congratulations to the Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, the Government of British Columbia and all who worked hard to finalize the details of today’s conservancies,” said Nicole Rycroft, Canopy’s Founder and Executive Director. “This iconic temperate rainforest exemplifies how Indigenous leaders, committed citizens, and brands can change the course of history by rejecting business as usual and supporting Indigenous-led conservation that works for people and the planet.” 

“Congratulations to the Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation on reaching this incredible milestone in implementing their land use vision across their territories. Thirty years after the massive blockades to keep thousand year old trees standing, it’s beyond exciting to see conservancies finalized for the old growth rainforests Clayquot Sound," said Stand.Earth International Programs Director Tzeporah Berman. "This leadership and vision toward conservation and community well-being will serve as inspiration for communities across BC and worldwide.”  

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Torrance Coste | Associate Director, Wilderness Committee
(250)-516-9900, torrance@wildernesscommittee.org

Shelley Luce | Campaigns Director, SierraClub BC
(604) 774-5730, shelley@sierraclub.bc.ca 

Jeh Custerra | Director of Environmental Justice, Friends of Clayoquot Sound 
(250)-725-4218, jeh@focs.ca 

Mike Hudema | Director of Communications, Canopy
(778) 989-6153, mike.hudema@canopyplanet.org