The richness of this land and its rivers provides the very foundation of Taku River Tlingit kustiyixh, or ‘way of life’

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The Taku Conservation Area

G2G Land Use Planning

Prompted by the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in the Taku case, the Taku River Tlingit Nation entered into exploratory discussions with the Government of British Columbia in 2005 regarding a joint land use and wildlife management planning process for our territory. In March 2008, the two governments signed the Framework Agreement for Shared Decision Making Respecting Land Use and Wildlife Management and government-to-government (G2G) negotiations. This G2G Land Use Planning Process is one of only a few such initiatives underway in British Columbia, and it is viewed as a bell-weather of British Columbia government stated commitments to establish new more equitable and respectful relationships with First Nations.

Over the last two years, the Taku River Tlingit Nation and British Columbia have made substantial progress toward a joint land plan. While challenging issues remain, both governments believe that an agreement is within reach.

Some of the key elements of this emerging agreement include:

  • Zoning: One of the important elements of this agreement is a mosaic of land use zones that includes a network of protected areas providing security for conservation values, as well as other zones for industrial land uses, such as mineral exploration, and continued opportunities for use by the local community for hunting and recreation. Using the decision support tool developed by the Taku River Tlingit, protected areas that include many of the highest value ecological and cultural landscapes, as well as the critical salmon bearing rivers of the Taku watershed have been identified. 
  • World Class Management Standards: British Columbia and the Taku River Tlingit acknowledge the exceptional salmon values and intact predator-prey systems that are within this territory. In recognition of the significance of these values, the Land Use Plan will set in place ‘world class’ management direction based on ecosystem-based management principles. These standards will guide resource development, including operational standards for mineral exploration and provide for higher standards of conservation for cultural and environmental values. The plan will also protect critical salmon habitat and water quality through the designation of Salmon and Aquatic Conservation Areas, where stringent conditions will apply for proposed land use activities.
  • Shared Decision Making Arrangements: Another outcome of the negotiations is an agreement regarding ‘shared decision making’. Under this arrangement, which will be one of the first of its kind in the province, the Taku River Tlingit First Nation will cooperate with British Columbia in management decisions, through collaborative processes facilitated by both BC and Taku River Tlingit Engagement Coordinators. These arrangements provide meaningful opportunities to be involved in implementation of the land use plan, as well as other aspects of resource management decision-making, including: (a) further planning, such as the Collaborative Fish and Wildlife Management Plan, and the new protected areas management plans, (b) management activities, such as compliance and enforcement, and (c) operational decision making, including the joint consideration of applications for permits and tenures.
  • Monitoring and Adaptive Management: Both governments share a commitment to monitoring arrangements in order to track the implementation of the land use plan, to improve the information base on which management decisions are made, and to determine whether our joint efforts are achieving intended results. Cooperative approaches for the review and refinement of management direction outlined in planning products will also be designed, based on the results of research and monitoring efforts.

Through the outcomes achieved through the government-to-government negotiations, the Taku River Tlingit Nation will make significant progress toward the attainment of their Hà t_átgi hà khustìyxh sìti and Tlatisini vision for the territory.

A combination of land use zoning, world-class management, and shared decision making at this scale has not been achieved in British Columbia before.  Much work remains however, to ensure that the many detailed elements of the Land Use Plan are fully implemented in practice, to complete additional planning for new protected areas and for fish and wildlife, and to ensure that the newly created management decision-making arrangements are fully resourced and are working effectively. This next phase of work also requires further efforts to build and strengthen Tlingit capacity at all levels, continue and expand economic development opportunities, and set in place institutional arrangements so that these successes can be assured and expanded upon over the long-term.

As completion of the government-to-government negotiations near, the T’akhu  Tlèn Conservancy is uniquely positioned to assist with these implementation tasks and help strengthen the capacity of the Taku River Tlingit First Nation.