THE BISTCHO INDIGENOUS PROTECTED & CONSERVED AREA PROJECTCategory: 2019, Current, Grant, Land Use, Major Project
The landscape of northwestern Alberta has undergone extensive anthropogenic change over recent history with the establishment of agriculture and settlements and the development of energy and forestry industries. This continued expansion has resulted in added pressures on the lands where the Dene Tha’ First Nation (DTFN) exercise their Treaty rights and the species on which they rely.
The Dene Tha’ Traditional Territory is located in northwestern Alberta, northeastern British Columbia, and the southern Northwest Territories. The Chinchaga, Bistcho, Yates, and Caribou Mountain caribou ranges are all within this Traditional Territory. The DTFN supports initiatives to protect and rebuild these caribou herds’ populations. Caribou are a culturally important species for the Dene Tha’ and are also an indicator species for the general health of the boreal forest that we depend on. Given the level of oil and gas and forestry development in the DTFN Territory, they are concerned that caribou will be extirpated if immediate steps are not taken to protect the herds and their habitat.
The purpose of this project is to establish an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA) within the Traditional Territory of the DTFN. The area also covers critical habitat of the threatened Bistcho woodland caribou herd. An opportunity exists to move the proposal forward as a result of caribou range planning, with the Government of Alberta indicating that caribou range planning for this herd is a priority. Range planning for the Bistcho range has already begun, and through our collaborative work at the Northwest Stewardship Planning Table, the IPCA has been presented to the Government of Alberta range planning team.