VICTORIA – A draft Strategic Land Use Agreement (SLUA) initialled by the government and the Council of the Haida Nation moves the islands known as Haida Gwaii or Queen Charlotte Islands a large step closer to resolution of long-standing land use and resource management issues, Agriculture and Lands Minister Pat Bell announced today.
Intended to address the recommendations of an earlier Haida Gwaii land use planning process, the initialling of the draft SLUA is an outcome of government-to-government discussions initiated by the Province under a 2005 letter of understanding with the Haida Nation, and is an important step forward in the process of ratifying a final agreement.
“I’m pleased that we have reached this milestone in the planning process and look forward to continued collaboration to reach a final agreement for all communities and residents of Haida Gwaii” said Bell. “The initialling of this agreement represents the culmination of years of hard work and collaboration by many people, and is an example of the respect and cooperation which characterises the New Relationship between government and First Nations.”
Guujaaw, president of the Council of the Haida Nation said: “Through this process we have maintained the values that have given us our culture, while at the same time setting the stage for a sustainable Island economy.”
The draft agreement recommends:
· Permanent protection for approximately 225,000 ha of land for natural, cultural, spiritual and recreational values, while balancing environmental sustainability with the social and economic needs of the Islands’ communities.
· The analysis, testing, and establishment of land use objectives implementing ecosystem based management or EBM.
· A timber harvest of at least 800,000 m3 per year to maintain social and community stability.
· Following ratification of the agreement, the establishment of appropriate committees to ensure locally driven implementation and monitoring of the agreement and EBM practices.
“The next step in the process will be for the government and the Haida to begin public, community and stakeholder consultations with local governments, residents and industry sectors before a final decision is reached on ratifying the agreement,” added Bell.
A community-based, strategic land use planning process, involving a community planning forum and jointly chaired by the B.C. government and the Haida Nation, was initiated for the Queen Charlotte Islands / Haida Gwaii in September 2003. The planning process concluded in February 2005 and the recommendations of the community planning forum were forwarded to the parties for further consideration. Government to government negotiations with the Council of Haida Nations resumed in 2006 and a community viability study was also developed to complement any final land use strategy.
The Community Viability Strategy and Action Plan for Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands is currently nearing completion and will soon be provided to government for consideration. It will contain a number of locally-generated recommendations for improving all aspects of the economy on the Islands, and is intended to provide a blueprint for a sustainable Islands economy.
Provincial government and Haida representatives intend to host a number of public meetings and consultations on the draft SLUA over the summer before assembling final recommendations for ratification.
To view a map of the area and a copy of the initialled agreement, please see http://www.mediaroom.gov.bc.ca/DisplayEventDetails.aspx?eventId=374.
Ministry of Agriculture and Lands
250 213-3072 (cell)
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