Evaluating Conservancy Area Governance: A New Approach to Protected Areas in Coastal British Columbia

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Conservancies are a new model for protected areas designated in First Nations’ traditional territories in British Columbia. Conservancies have been praised for their ability to protect ecologically diverse areas of the province while addressing First Nations’ traditional use, enabling collaborative management, and allowing for sustainable resource development. This study assesses whether the formal agreements guiding conservancy management justify the initial praise. Criteria and indicators derived from the international literature on the governance of protected areas involving Indigenous peoples were used to evaluate 13 conservancy management plans and 14 other agreements which guide conservancy governance. The conservancy management plans and agreements establish a framework for governance that meets these international criteria, either largely or in part. How conservancies will contribute in practice to the reconciliation of Aboriginal rights, title, and interests remains to be seen, warranting future study as conservancy management plans are implemented on the British Columbia coast.
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