October 18-25, 2004

BC provides $8M to create new public lands trust

The British Columbia government is providing a one-time contribution of $8 million to create a new public lands trust which will support biodiversity conservation in the province. The $8 million, with a minimum requirement for matching dollars from the conservation sector, will support improved conservation planning and more efficient acquisition and management of private lands with unique ecological values.

"This funding will result in increased habitat conservation and green space ensuring that the highest priority sites in British Columbia are identified and that the best long-term conservation investments are made," said Sustainable Resource Management Minister George Abbott.

A British Columbia Conservation Lands Forum, a provincial partnership of government and conservation organizations, will also be created to co-ordinate priority setting, determine shared interests and opportunities, and forge partnerships to achieve their goals. This forum will be headed by four non-government conservation organizations: Ducks Unlimited Canada, The Land Conservancy of BC, Nature Conservancy of Canada, and The Nature Trust of BC.

The forum will provide advice on the use of the trust funds. Other non-government groups and local governments with conservation interests may be included in the forum as well.

The trust will also support the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection's (WLAP's) commitment to conserve critical habitat and species through strategic land acquisitions. WLAP spends approximately $5 million each year on property acquisitions, resulting in new protected areas, ecological reserves, provincial parks, wildlife management areas and other conservation lands. With contributions from partners, the annual value of land secured and protected each year is often three to four times this amount. Although private land makes up only about 5% of the provincial land base, it represents over 30% of the land ranked highest for conservation of species diversity.

"In the past three years, the ministry and its partners have acquired $91 million worth of land with significant environmental value," noted Water, Land and Air Protection Minister Bill Barisoff. "The BC Trust for Public Lands provides new resources and a new framework for private land acquisitions, which are essential to the protection and enhancement of our environment."

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