Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society British Columbia

Use your voice to defend nature

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society – British Columbia Chapter protects wilderness in every corner of BC and deep into the ocean. The British Columbia Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society supports the creation of large, well-managed, connected protected areas where native plants and animals thrive, now and forever; and where people and communities can live off the land and ocean without impacting the ability of future generations to do the same.

We work to safeguard large parks, protected areas and wildlife corridors – places like Tatshenshini, Muskwa Kechika, South Okanagan-Similkameen, Gwaii Haanas, and the Scott Islands.

In the past 50+ years, the Society has played a lead role in protecting over half a million square kilometres – an area bigger than New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador put together!

Nature is British Columbia’s best hope.

Governments have a choice: To take bold action to defend against the decline of species, or to continue to watch iconic animals like caribou and orca vanish from our ecosystems forever. The BC Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is committed to helping them make the best decision.

Nature is British Columbia’s best hope. We have been dedicated to protecting the wilderness and keeping British Columbia’s natural environment thriving forever in every corner of the province and deep into the ocean since 1978.

The world is facing a biodiversity crisis. Decades of climate change and unchecked industrial development are putting nature under more pressure than ever. British Columbia is on the frontlines of the fight to protect our last remaining large, intact natural land and seascapes, and the plants and animals that depend on them.

We have a plan to stem the nature emergency and ensure resilient ecosystems that can weather the storms of a changing climate. When nature thrives, so do we.

We protect land and water

We defend public lands and the ocean. We work with Indigenous, provincial and federal governments with the goal of creating large protected and interconnected areas: places that can nurse nature through climate change and shelter plants and animals forever.

Most of the land, freshwater and ocean in BC and on the coast is held in public trust. It is our shared responsibility to protect it for future generations.

Our work to safeguard large parks, protected areas and wildlife corridors has been instrumental in protecting precious places across the province. Join us in the fight to safeguard special places across the province including Tatshenshini, Muskwa Kechika, South Okanagan-Similkameen, Gwaii Haanas – the southern tip of Haida Gwaii, and the Scott Islands.

Our commitment

We work on the stolen lands and waters of Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous Peoples have stewarded their territories since time immemorial, and continue to today.

The conservation movement in Canada was founded on white supremacy and actively sought to erase Indigenous Peoples. One way was the forcible removal of Indigenous Peoples from their land and water, and the attempted severing from their culture. The whiteness of conservation still remains in both leadership and values, which continues to perpetuate systemic oppression and erasure of Indigenous Peoples. But Indigenous Peoples have resisted and endured. As a conservation organization, we have a responsibility to decolonize our work and to ensure that we are supporting Indigenous stewardship, resilience and resurgence.

The BC Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is committed to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within every aspect of our work to protect lands, inland waters, and ocean. We commit to be more inclusive, respectful, and honour Indigenous Peoples in all aspects of our work. The staff and the Board recognize that decolonization is an ongoing process that requires all of us to be actively involved and responsible.

During the hardest days of the pandemic, parks were the places we turned to breathe deeply and feel safe. When we needed it most, nature saved us. Let’s return the favour and protect more of BC.

Parks are not just the places we go for physical activities like trail running and paddle boarding. They’re also havens for our hearts and minds.

In a survey we ran last summer, 94% of British Columbians said that access to nature was somewhat or very important to their mental health. And research shows that spending time in nature can lower your blood pressure and reduce anxiety.

Protecting 25% by 2025

Canada’s own federal government, along with many other countries, has committed to protecting 25% of land by 2025. With about 15% to 17% protected — depending on who you ask — British Columbia has yet to make a similar commitment.

More British Columbians than ever recognize the protective power of parks. We are asking the provincial government to commit to protecting 25% of land by 2025.

How we get there

We need to protect up to 10% more of BC to meet our goal. Indigenous-led conversation projects are one of the best ways to ensure we meet that target. Plus, a University of British Columbia study has shown that biodiversity is highest on lands managed by indigenous peoples meaning that nature will thrive. Here are just a few projects that would get us closer:

Dene Kʼéh Kusān: The Kaska Dena plan to protect an area larger than Vancouver Island where there are no clear cuts, no mines and no settlements. There’s not even a road. Known as Dene Kʼéh Kusān, this will be 3.9 million hectares of new protected land abundant with wildlife like caribou, moose and mountain goats.

South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Reserve: One of the most important conservation opportunities in Canada, a National Park Reserve would protect the unique species and habitats of the region, and bring an array of social and economic benefits to local communities.

Qat’muk Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area: Located on the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa Nation, the Qat’muk Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area will cover the Jumbo Valley, plus over 700 square kilometres of the surrounding area.

Klinse-za Protected Area: the West Moberly First Nations and Saulteau First Nations collaborated with the province of British Columbia, and the government of Canada, supporting a new commitment to protect and recover caribou in Treaty 8 traditional territory. The agreement protects roughly 7,500-square-kilometers of land, including a new Indigenous-led protected area that expands the Klinse-za Protected Area.

Skagit/Manning donut hole: As the quirky name suggests, this is a 5,800 hectare “hole” in provincial park protection hidden between Manning and Skagit Valley Provincial Parks. The area is under threat by a mining company, despite the nearby parks being visited by more than a million outdoor enthusiasts every year.

Nature saves our future

Nature was there during the pandemic when we needed it most. But our future rests on parks, too. As the lungs of our planet, the more land we set aside from logging and other forms of development, the greater our ability to mitigate a warming climate and its terrible impacts.

And for the rich diversity of plants and animals in our province, a study by ecologists at Simon Fraser University found that Indigenous-managed forests, cared for as “forest gardens,” are healthier. They contained greater species diversity and provided more habitat for animals and insects than surrounding forests.

With BC increasingly becoming a haven for plants and animals fleeing northward from rising temperatures, we need the protective power of parks not just during the pandemic, but for our future.

Nature Saved Us

We asked CPAWS-BC supporters and staff to share how nature has been a haven for them during the pandemic. What we heard was profound, funny and full of gratitude. Read the responses and consider adding your own story.

Nature Saved Us