A David Suzuki Foundation researcher is planning to publish a report detailing the “non-market” benefits of protecting a 90,000 hectare area of northeastern B.C. from development.
Dr. Faisal Moola, who previously wrote another report detailing the Peace Region landscape, spoke about while in Fort St. John to attend a Treaty 8 Tribal Association public meeting.
His report relates to a proposal by the Doig River First Nation. In 2011, the First Nation declared an area 75 kilometres northwest of Fort St. John as a tribal park, “K'ih tsaa?dze” (The name means “Old Spruce” in the Dene-zaa language). The amount of land under this declaration was about 1.5 times larger than the city of Toronto, and goes across the B.C. and Alberta borders.
It was reported earlier that the Doig River First Nation wants to halt industrial development there to preserve the land.
“This area has been in our traditional territory (for) camping and hunting. It's a spiritual area for our people," Doig River First Nation Chief Norman Davis was quoted as saying.
Doig River First Nation officials said they were attempting to seek provincial approval, but the status of the park is still unclear.
The B.C. Ministry of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation claims to be in talks with Doig River about the park.
“The Province remains in discussion with Doig River First Nation with respect to the K’ih tsaa?dze Tribal Park. Prior to the Province designating any protected area, government would consult with all affected stakeholders, including First Nations,” wrote a ministry spokesperson.
“Tribal parks are not official parks within the provincial park system. Only the Province decides which lands will be designated provincial parks and protected areas.”
Earlier, the David Suzuki Foundation expressed support for the proposal. Now, they are looking to produce a report detailing what benefits could come from the proposal.
“We’ll be writing a report shortly that looks at the non-market benefits of this protected area,” said Moola.
Moola said that bees pollinating flowers, or trees soaking up carbon dioxide, are examples of non-market benefits.
“The ecosystems and the farmland are providing services that benefit local people, providing clean air, clean water, opportunities to have recreation, etc.,” he said. “This (report) is going to look at the economic value of those sectors of the economy that are typically treated as externalities by government and decisions in factors like resource
To Moola, Doig River’s proposal was interesting because the level of protected areas is lower in northern B.C. than it is in other parts of the province.
“We can do a lot better in the piece in terms of making sure important ecosystems are protected,” he said.
Questions directed to Moola about what time the report was expected to come out were not returned as of press time.