More of Haida Gwaii protected

  • Sep. 30, 2009 12:00 p.m.

By Judy McKinley-Haida Gwaii is one step closer to having nine new Haida Heritage Areas, after Environment Minister Barry Penner last week announced the introduction of provincial legislation that will protect more than 111,000 hectares on the islands.The new areas will bring the total amount of protected area in Haida Gwaii to 255,000 hectares, or 52 percent of the islands.The new conservancies are listed under their original names in the legislation: Daawuuxusda (west coast of Graham and Moresby islands); Damaxyaa (Louise Dover Trail); Kamdis (Kumdis); Kunxalas (Gray Bay/Cumshewa Head); Nang Xaldangaas (7 Mile, Massett Inlet); K’uuna Gwaay (Louise Island); SGaay Taaw Siiwaay (Takakia Lake); Tlall (Tlell); and Yaaguun Gandlaay (Yakoun Lake). The legislation also includes additions to the existing Duu Guusd conservancy (Langara Island and Rennell Sound).According to Council of the Haida Nation president Guujaaw: “Our people have long protected these areas because of their natural, cultural and spiritual value,” and he describes the legislation as a collaboration with the provincial government “to build a more stable platform upon which we design a sustainable future for Haida Gwaii.”The process of protecting these areas represents an evolving new model of negotiation and mutual respect. The land use agreement went through extensive community consultations here on Haida Gwaii before it became a plan, and then through another extensive series of negotiations with BC before it was signed.Bill Beldessi is the manager of the Strategic Land Use Implementation for the CHN. He and his six-person team have been working since the signing of the agreement, both with their provincial counterparts and as a team working out the details of the agreement. The culmination of the last several months of work will be shared with the public in open houses across the island in November.That same team will be working from now until March 30 on developing the management plans for the protected areas. That process includes determining what activities take place in each area, starting with existing uses in each area; the working of a co-management agreement; and looking at the connecting nearshore and offshore areas.