The inherent jurisdiction of the hereditary chiefs of five Nuu-chah-nulth groups to conserve their lands and waters had never been extinguished. Following a 1994 agreement that formally recognized their jurisdiction, the Nations jointly formed a forestry company to manage the area. They negotiated an agreement with environmental groups including Sierra Club BC under which Iisaak Forest Resources would avoid harvesting in key areas, practice ecosystem-based forestry and become Forest Stewardship Council certified.
In the years since, Sierra Club BC has actively lobbied for mining to be banned in the region and published a report recommending Biosphere Reserve status for Clayoquot Sound. In 2000, with the support of Indigenous Nations, the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve was established to promote conservation alongside economic and social development. Although only 17% of the region received formal protection after the protests, the vast majority of its old-growth rainforest remains intact today.
Indigenous Nations have continued to lead the way in conservation as they work toward long term land use designations in Clayoquot Sound. In 2015, the Ahousaht Hawiih (hereditary chiefs) declared a moratorium on old-growth logging in their territory. In 2017, they announced a new comprehensive Land Use Vision for Indigenous protected areas. The plan sets aside about 80% of their territory to conserve biodiversity and natural landscapes and to provide for continued spiritual, cultural and sustenance use. The bold vision calls for an end to industrial logging and mining and prioritizes low-impact, community-led economic development by and for the Ahousaht.
Together with our partners in the Clayoquot Sound Conservation Alliance, Sierra Club BC continues to advocate for the region’s globally significant temperate rainforest. Significant funding will be required to support bold visions like the Ahousaht’s, and we continue to support Indigenous leaders seeking lasting protection of intact rainforest valleys through land use planning and conservation financing.