Investing in our planet

April 22nd, 2022
Before and after, photographs by TJ Watt taken in the Caycuse Valley, Vancouver Island, BC.

My wife and I have donated $250,000 to the Nature Based Solutions Foundation and raised an additional $325,000 for the organization through our network. You can support the NBSF directly or through donations to their parent organization the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance

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The founders of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance and Ancient Forest Alliance have launched a new national funding organization dedicated to protecting endangered ecosystems in Canada. From their press release:

A new national organization, the Nature-Based Solutions Foundation (NBSF), has just been launched by several BC conservationists to help address critical funding gaps to support the creation of new protected areas in the most endangered ecosystems in Canada, including endangered old-growth forests in British Columbia.

These gaps include providing economic support for land-embedded communities who have close connections to endangered ecosystems, such as First Nations, Métis, ranchers, and woodlot owners. The NBSF will also support efforts to acquire private lands in the most endangered ecosystems, including old-growth forests, and help fill funding shortfalls across various levels of government for expanding protected areas...

One primary niche the Foundation aims to fill is to provide land-embedded communities with the necessary funding to support their transition towards more sustainable economic alternatives, which helps facilitate the establishment of new protected areas. This approach is known as “conservation financing”.


Read the press release

After several years of direct support for the AFA (see previous posts: On Earth, The Word for World is Forest), Jess and I were keen to support the next step in this important work. We have seen Ken Wu, TJ Watt, and the team demonstrate incredible focus, energy, and integrity in their work. And we have seen their consistent emphasis on outcomes and strong relationships with government, communities, and First Nations rather than the identity of the organization or shallow social media campaigns.

Old-growth red cedar logging on Vancouver Island. Photo by TJ Watt

In BC, progress on setting aside the most precious old-growth forests has been slow, but shows some promising signs. Just over 1 million hectares of the most irreplaceable big-tree forest has now been temporarily deferred from logging. This covers about 40% of the 2.6 million hectares identified by the Old Growth Technical Advisory Panel as the most precious and at-risk forests left in BC.

However, there has been a lack of funding for First Nations and other land-embedded communities seeking to transition to sustainable economic activity – such as second-growth forestry, tourism, and renewable forest products. Without this funding, as well as support for detailed First Nations land-use plans (and the time, resources, and bridge funding necessary to develop them), communities are likely to default to logging as a known income source, and deferrals may lapse.

The Nature Based Solutions Foundation aims to address this gap, and to connect federal, provincial, and private funding to help these communities transition. There is an urgent need for the planning and support necessary to accomplish this change: both due to the critical need to act on climate, and because old-growth logging is a one-way street. If we cut these remaining ancient forests down, we will not seem them again for many, many generations.

Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park. Photo by TJ Watt

The theme of Earth Day 2022 is “Invest in our Planet”.  It marks a shift in emphasis for the 52 year old event from consumer-oriented personal actions (recycle, plant a tree, ride your bike to work) to the systemic changes needed to rapidly transform our energy, land-use, food and transportation systems via massive economic investment and creative reimagination.

In this year’s IPCC report, “Reduced conversion of forests and other ecosystems” is listed as the single largest potential contributor to the emissions reductions needed globally, alongside expansion of renewable energy. It also notes the gap in investment needed to accomplish reductions in this area.


Source

Here in BC  we have a crucial role to play in this global picture, as stewards of some of the world’s most spectacular and irreplaceable ecosystems. Successfully navigating a future for old-growth forests here on the coast will require deep investment in reconciliation with First Nations, an inclusive approach to climate equity, and a transition to sustainable models of resource extraction and consumption. This will not happen on its own. But we have a chance to show it can be done and provide a model for other regions and nations to build on, and hope for all those striving to create the conditions we need to address climate change.

We will continue to invest in this effort. If you are interested in getting involved, either through donations to these organizations or as a private investor, we are happy to talk and to introduce you to Ken Wu and the team at the Nature Based Solutions Foundation. Get in touch