Engaging Indigenous Communities in the Conservation Market Conversation

The EcoServices Network has been working with our partners to better understand the opportunity for Indigenous communities to benefit from conservation markets.

Alberta has one of the largest, youngest and fastest-growing Indigenous populations in Canada. Due to the significant and diverse land base, there is opportunity for both First Nations and Metis communities to benefit from the potential economic diversification and growth associated with the use of conservation markets to manage and enhance ecosystem services and biodiversity.

Potential impact area:

  • 1.25 million acres of land for Métis Settlements
  • 2.01 million acres of reserve First Nations Lands

Over 250,000 Indigenous people in Alberta have an important role in the social, cultural and economic fabric of the province. Opportunities exist to engage Indigenous communities to participate in conservation markets for the provision of ecosystem services such as:

  • Wetland, grassland and boreal preservation
  • Eco-cultural tourism
  • Surface water protection

Targeted engagement to priority areas for Indigenous communities opens pathways for meaningful conversations and active participation in:

  • Economic opportunities for Eco-tourism and business development,
  • Social, cultural activities and connections to environmental training,
  • Water and wastewater management,
  • Third party resource developer affecting traditional territories,
  • Fishing, hunting and gathering opportunities and preservation,
  • Species at risk and habitat preservation for all species while creating benefits to the community, and
  • Green infrastructure opportunities to assist urban neighbours.

Limitations are different for each individual indigenous community and yet again different between the Metis and the First Nations. Challenges to be considered may include the following:

  • Lack of trust and fear of participation or information sharing being construed as consultation on behalf of Nations
  • Lack of funds to be able to participate
  • Low level of comfort in attending events as a perceived minority
  • Language barriers. Different languages in different treaty areas.
  • Limited communication of available programs
  • Timing of local elections can impact project initiation, completion and ongoing participation
  • Ceremonial expectations
  • Interception or lack of support from government mandated technical organizations

For more information contact:

Paul McLauchlin, Environmental Leadership Matters, 780-995-7339

Melinda McLauchlin, MCA Environmental Management, 780-266-7245