Maintaining ecosystems and their services through Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas

Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs) refer to lands and waters where Indigenous governments have the primary role in conserving and maintaining ecosystems through Indigenous laws, governance and knowledge systems. They aim to support ecosystems and biodiversity while safeguarding Indigenous rights, including the right to exercise free, prior and informed consent. The need for restoration of the land and the culture is often an important component of IPCAs. Indigenous peoples are beginning to lead the call for restoration of lands that have been heavily affected by industrial development and degradation from human activities. Driven by the recognition that people, culture and their lands are inseparable, priority restoration areas are being identified for wildlife, as well as degraded cultural values. The IPCA model is rooted in the exercise of constitutionally-upheld Indigenous rights in accordance with Indigenous laws. IPCAs can also deliver important benefits to Canadians. Increasing the amount of protected and conserved areas in Canada has positive implications for biodiversity and ecosystems, which in turn contributes to maintaining the important ecosystem services that many communities rely on. However, much work remains to enable IPCAs as a viable option for protecting natural areas and to secure these areas from development pressures.

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