Focus Groups on Payments for Ecosystem Services in Clayoquot Sound

Building on previous work that explored the potential for Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) in Clayoquot Sound, Gathering Voices Society conducted five focus groups in the region between March and April 2016. The focus groups were composed of representatives from business, First Nations, the Tofino Mayor and Council, NGOs and individual tourists. These discussions were designed to further dialogue on PES in the region, with the following goals in mind: (1) to understand and document any PES programs in Clayoquot Sound; (2) to assess the acceptability of PES among a broader group of stakeholders (industry, civil actors, NGOs and the general public); and (3) to explore the potential of PES for First Nations and describe what this involvement will look like.

To answer the first question, the focus groups revealed that PES is occurring in Clayoquot Sound with First Nations, but these arrangements and activities are not formalized. The majority of these programs are based around ‘Cultural Services’ and are informal. The problem with these regimes being informal is that most ecosystem users simply opt-out from paying and free-ride, and the limited payments are insufficient to manage effectively. Advancing dialogue and understanding on PES can help legitimate these programs, and support a process of formalizing and institutionalizing these programs. PES was highlighted as a mechanism in focus groups to help resolve any trade-offs and align the incentives of competing resource users in Clayoquot. PES also has the potential to address distributive concerns among First Nations through financial and non-financial payoffs.

In answering the second question, the results highlight that PES is acceptable to most participants in focus groups. However, there are competing views, as PES may involve a re-distribution of property rights and jurisdiction for land use and land management, which is bound up in power struggles and political grievances.  Some business operators view PES as creating additional costs which could threaten the competitiveness of the tourism economy, particularly if these costs do not lead to tangible benefits. But PES was also viewed as creating better management outcomes and establishing partnerships with First Nations, which is important given the changing political, social and legal landscape. PES is also gaining traction among First Nations who view it as a mechanism to obtain recognition as stewards of the landscape in ways consistent with their stewardship values, and it offers potential livelihoods outcomes and employment outcomes to members, which are important to these communities who feel they are consistently missing out on the benefits from the economy and are being bullied on their constrained land-base. 

The third question is around the potential for PES in Clayoquot and how First Nations can participate. The results highlight that contractual arrangements are emerging between businesses and First Nations organizations to generate aesthetic, educational and recreational outcomes through stewardship and management, and engagement with tourists. These programs may be expanded and achieve a scale where larger management interventions can be achieved, with broader outcomes to the population. There are some key institutional design questions that need to be addressed, for instance, legitimating PES so that is supported by ecosystem users, which can mitigate free-riding ensure adequate funding.

PES may require the formation of new forms of multi-stakeholder and First Nations governance. These groups may foster understanding and consensus among different actors through group deliberation. Group deliberation, like that in focus groups, can also provide an opportunity to re-affirm collective values and instill these in other stakeholders. Exploring institutional is important to the success of PES going forward and should be a priority for further research.

The Potential for Payments for Environmental Services in Clayoquot Sound: Pathways for First Nations Participation

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Addressing species loss and habitat degradation is a problem of global significance. Balancing trade-offs between development and conservation is an issue in Clayoquot Sound. To address such problems, policy makers, scholars and practitioners have pioneered market based instruments, such as payments for environmental services (PES), to help create incentives to mitigate species and habitat loss and to support development ambitions. PES programs include conservation banking, wetlands loss mitigation schemes, salinity offset credit schemes and cap and trade arrangements for carbon. These programs in practice have been shown to be successful in enhancing conservation and socio-economic outcomes.

There is strong community support for PES among First Nations in Clayoquot. In the summer of 2014, the Ahousaht and Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations conducted surveys in partnership with the UBC Department of Forest Resources Management to determine the types of preferred land management options. The results showed that “Conservation and Restoration was the most preferred land use option (42% votes), followed by Tourism Promotion (34% votes).” Further, “both Industrial Development and Status Quo were among the least preferred alternatives, receiving 12 percent of votes each."

Surveys and focus groups were conducted with all partner First Nation, in a number of phases. Project benefits included:

-       Help resolve trade-offs between development and conservation

-       Provide employment opportunities for Nuuchahnulth people living in their own communities

-       Potentially get people working back out on the land and stewarding their own territories in employment that reflects Nuuchahnulth cultural values of ecosystem management

-       Develop a stronger working relationship between Nuuchahnulth Nations and non-Nuuchahnulth services providers and industry in the Tofino area

-       Ensure the longevity of biodiversity and ecological integrity by providing opportunities alternative to resource extraction with a focus on conservation, restoration and collaboration

-       Present options for economic diversification as a response to high levels of unemployment and limited opportunities that are culturally appropriate

KaNaTa Dialogue - Vancouver Island University

On January 29, 2014 as part of Vancouver Island University’s commitment to Nanaimo’s “Racism to Reconciliation” process, which began last spring, VIU hosted one of the series of KaNaTa Conversations with a distinguished panel of guest speakers in astimulating night of lively discussion on the role that media plays in shaping the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

Speakers included:

National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, Assembly of First Nations

Chief Douglas White III, Snuneymuxw First Nation

Wab Kinew, Musician, broadcaster and educator

Duncan McCue, CBC National Reporter and professor at UBC’s School of Journalism

Dr. Ralph Nilson, President of Vancouver Island University

KaNaTa Dialogue - University of Edinburgh

Former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Shawn A-in-chut Atleo was invited to speak on the rights of indigenous peoples.

His visit had been organized by the Centre of Canadian Studies, in association with the Global Justice Academy, to mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation. Signed in 1763, the proclamation acknowledged the rights and land-claims of North America’s aboriginal population.

“We are delighted to welcome the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations to Edinburgh, particularly at a time when the University is engaged in questions about global citizenship."

— Dr Annis May Timpson, Director of the Centre of Canadian Studies

KaNaTa Dialogue - Oxford University

Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Canada, gave a talk to a packed room at Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford on 9 October 2013. National Chief Atleo talked about the priority issues facing Indigenous nations in Canada, from education to resource development and the enduring requirement for recognition and affirmation of relationships to achieve fairness, justice and harmony.

His speech was followed by a talk by a former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Ovide Mercredi, who during his time in office addressed the UN in both New York and Geneva.

The seminar was held as part of OPHI’s work on Social Isolation, part of their research into the Missing Dimensions of poverty.