Standing With our Planet’s Caretakers on World Ranger Day

It was mid-morning in a reserve in Zimbabwe when a senior ranger came to deliver the news. “There’s a baby,” was all he said at first to GWC’s wildlife crime prevention officer, James Slade, who at the time was senior warden of the reserve. Earlier that morning, a team of rangers had found the tracks of an aging female Black Rhino. They followed her tracks and then suddenly…the four tracks became eight.

“The rangers hadn’t realized that the rhino was pregnant,” Slade says. “The light in this rangers’ eyes as he told me about the events of that patrol will stick with me forever. This hardened veteran, on the verge of tears knowing that the rhino population was increasing, knowing that a new life had begun, was so inspiring. I knew then that there was real hope for conservation efforts, and that that hope was thanks to rangers.”

Rangers of Zimbabwe’s National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority parade in celebration of World Rangers Day. (Photo by James Slade)

In an homage to the people and rhino of Zimbabwe, the rangers went on to name the newborn rhino “Misinzo,” which roughly translates to “a good omen at the beginning of a long journey” and “a good omen at the end of a long journey.” Since then, the population of rhino has continued to increase on the reserve, and to date not a single rhino has been lost to poaching.

Planetary Protectors

All around the world, passionate individuals like these Zimbabwean rangers are risking their lives day in and day out to protect the life support systems on which we all depend—our forests and other wildlands. Rangers, both men and women from government agencies, NGOs, private conservancies and local and indigenous communities provide the first line of defense against the serious ailments plaguing our planet, protecting our wildlife and wildlands from poaching, habitat loss, pollution, fire and other threats.

A world without rangers would be a world that simply could not sustain life.

Yet rangers in many parts of the world are chronically underpaid, uninsured, undertrained and underappreciated. More than 1,000 rangers have been killed on duty in the last decade according to the International Ranger Federation. A 2016 study conducted by WWF and Global Wildlife Conservation found that out of 40 countries where rangers were surveyed, 28 percent did not provide rangers with any access to health insurance. Thirty-five percent did not provide them access to life insurance and 53 percent failed to provide long-term disability insurance. Another survey that same year found that 66 percent of rangers in Asia and Africa were not given the equipment they need to be successful at their job.

Singing chant of ranger trainees from GlobalWildlife on Vimeo.

Not only do rangers do their job under poor working conditions and without any protection, the complex vocation itself is, far and wide, not considered a real profession even though rangers must develop extensive and diverse skills. These include knowing first aid, search and rescue tactics, tracking skills, wildlife crime prevention, species identification, ecology, visitor education, and local community engagement.

“If conservation is the planetary health sector, the rangers are the nurses, the orderlies and the technicians,” said Mike Appleton, GWC director of protected area management. “Would you go to a hospital and want to be treated by a nurse who isn’t paid, has no training and no equipment? It is unacceptable that though rangers are protecting the health of our planet, they are too often last in line for resources to do so effectively.”

With such a demanding role, physical fitness and health is an important part of any ranger training program. This standard should be kept throughout one’s career. In environments faced by nature’s protectors, it can often mean life or death. (Photo by James Slade)

In addition, unlike other dangerous service sector jobs—police, firefighters—many countries lack both standardized training programs for rangers and a clear hierarchy for advancement throughout their career. These shortfalls are evident in the fact that there is not even a standard name for the job—rangers can also be called wildlife wardens, forest guards, foresters, scouts or watchers. We aren’t even sure how many individuals are working as rangers. Global Wildlife Conservation is currently conducting a survey in conjunction with the Game Rangers Association of Africa, Asian Ranger Federation, International Rangers Federation, WWF and EuroParc Federation just to get at this seemingly basic information.

Stand with the World Rangers

So today, on World Ranger Day, we’re calling for anyone who values clean air, clean water and the diversity of life on Earth to join us in standing with the world rangers and celebrating their vital role in protecting all life.

Global Wildlife Conservation stands with the world’s rangers. (Photo by James Slade)

How can you help?

Whenever you visit a park anywhere in the world, thank the rangers there and ask them if they’re happy with their working conditions. Talk to the people in charge about why you appreciate the work the rangers are doing and why you want to see significant improvements for the profession.

Consider supporting the Thin Green Line Foundation, a group that works with grassroots initiatives that are improving overall conditions for rangers. Recently, for example, the foundation worked with the Game Rangers Association of Africa on a deal with the South African Tourism Insurance Bureau to ensure that members of the association would qualify for insurance.

Consider supporting any of the more than 75 ranger associations that have formed in recent years in more than 50 countries. Rangers are getting organized, and these associations are key to bolstering global recognition of rangers’ vital work.

Show you stand with park rangers of the world in their fight to protect wildlife by taking a picture of yourself holding the “I stand with the World’s Rangers” poster and sharing it on your social media accounts with the hashtags: #worldrangerday #standwithrangers #naturesprotectors #thingreenlinefoundation #internationalrangerfederation

The beginning of a week-long extended patrol in to the forests of Sumatra. Rangers around the world face a variety of environments, challenges and hardships, all in the name of duty. (Photo by James Slade)

Encourage your policymakers to put government support behind rangers to turn this into a genuine profession, with decent salary and insurance, a career track, job security, training and sufficient equipment.

“As the threats to our planet mount and become more complex, the role of rangers in caring for the health of our planet has never been more critical,” said Barney Long, Global Wildlife’s senior director of species conservation. “Let’s support their incredible, life-saving work by standing with world rangers today—and every day.”

Read more about Global Wildlife Conservation’s work to combat wildlife crime

(Top photo: Rangers stand at attention during ‘drill. ‘While not all rangers have to adopt a para-military style of training, in Africa, it is becoming more common and unfortunately, necessary. While these skills are integral, rangers should remain first and foremost, conservationists. Photo by James Slade.)

Originally posted 2018-07-31 21:35:26.

“My Life for the Land”: Kiliii Yuyan’s Powerful Article on Indigenous Conservation Efforts

By: Nejma Belarbi, based on an article published on Voices for Biodiversity

Wearing the mantra of Standing Rock Sioux, Water is Life, a young woman at the Oceti Sakowin camp looks out over an estimated ten thousand people gathered there. To the Sioux, fighting for water and land is not an intellectual exercise— it is a fight for the health of the people.

My Life for the Land, written by Nanai photographer and writer Kiliii Yuyan, illuminates the importance of viewing conservation through the Indigenous lens. The scientific community has begun to recognize Indigenous knowledge as pivotal to conservation efforts. One commonly overlooked reality is the direct connection between the wellbeing of a ecosystem and the basic human rights of Indigenous people. Cultural survival, food and medicinal needs in Indigenous communities all require the existence of a healthy ecosystem, so Indigenous peoples have a strong vested interest in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. For some of these communities, however, attempts at protecting the environment can be a life-threatening endeavor. Yuyan’s article sheds light on the important correlations between ecosystem health and the health of humanity — now and for future generations.

Kiliii Yuyan’s insights and photographs are truly inspiring. He weaves connections among different Indigenous groups and explains the barriers they face as they strive to both conserve and continue stewardship of ecosystems.

His article depicts the struggles faced by Indigenous people on the front lines of conservation, from the Brazilian rainforest to North Dakota’s Standing Rock to the Alaskan Arctic. He begins with the tragic loss of Indigenous leaders who were involved in — and often spearheaded — conservation efforts to protect their lands and ecosystems from corporate exploitation, a sad reality we are continuously witnessing.

Yuyan connects Indigenous-led conservation with biodiversity by exemplifying ecosystem management and subsistence practices that have often proven to be beneficial to the well-being of many species. He highlights the clear connection between community-led ecosystem management and positive impacts on species such as bowhead whales in the waters of Alaska.

…under Iñupiaq management, the whale population had risen to almost 17,000 whales, which is believed to be even more than before the arrival of European whalers in the 1800s! Today the Beaufort Sea Bowhead population continues to grow at 3.7 percent annually, and serves as a prime example of how a modern Indigenous people can self-manage sensitive wildlife, even while hunting for subsistence.”

Flora Aiken gives a silent blessing to the first bowhead whale of the spring season. The Iñupiaq have a rich spiritual life which centers around the gift of the whale to the community. Foster Simmonds offers a prayer, saying, “Hide something for me. Look at the food, the whales. Look at the sea, the whalers. A blessing for them. Take that and hide it in your heart.” The whale here is tied up after being towed to the ice’s edge and is awaiting the village to come and help haul it onto the ice.

Yuyan explains that conservation efforts based on colonial concepts have sometimes caused great harm to Indigenous groups, who have had to fight back for their right to manage their homes and ecosystems. One such example is the Alaskan Eskimo Whaling Commission, initiated in response to the 1977 moratorium on whaling. At the time, commercial whaling and Indigenous subsistence whaling were put in the same category, most likely due to the lack of understanding of the role these communities played as ecosystem stewards. Yuyan writes that:

The Iñupiaq have been hunting whales here for at least 2,000 years. Yet the fact that they have the rights to whale today is remarkable — they nearly lost this way of life when the International Whaling Commission declared a moratorium on whaling in 1977… The Iñupiaq refused to give up and started their own Alaskan Eskimo Whaling Commission, fighting for the right to hunt whales and to manage their own bowhead whale population.”

The importance of Indigenous peoples’ lifeways in conservation is well illustrated throughout, with many examples of ongoing efforts to preserve ecosystems, which in turn protects countless species. His maps clearly show that Indigenous lands in Brazil, are least deforested regions.

Yuyan breaks down the myth that Indigenous land management and modern tools are mutually exclusive. He explains that:

Indigenous land management practices have evolved over thousands of years — and continue to evolve. Today the Ka’apor use game cameras and GPS to monitor wildlife activity and illegal logging. The Iñupiaq share information about whale observations and ice conditions over an extensive network of VHF radios. These modern additions are a natural adaptation for Indigenous people who live in a changing world with changing demands.

A truly salient point, which leads us to address our own biases regarding technology and subsistence living. Yuyan illustrates the shift in perspective by different cultures dealing with a changing world, with many now standing up to protect land and water. He speaks of his own experience at Standing Rock and witnessing the changing values of non-Indigenous people who gathered to support the interruption of the Dakota Access Pipeline:

I witnessed thousands of people — from all races and cultures — gathering in support of the Lakota people and their land rights. I saw outsiders running into new values in a camp structured around Indigenous priorities.

The photographs found throughout the article are rich and rare — true testimony to the power of imagery. With salient writing, a passion for the natural world and a desire to create greater opportunities for Indigenous knowledge to be recognized, Yuyan shows us an alternative vision of humanity’s greatest treasures — community, culture and the earth.

Originally posted 2018-04-15 08:21:10.

“If a tiger kills our cattle, we don’t feel angry”

The Chenchu tribe think of the tiger as their brother. They understand their forest and its wildlife better than anybody else and have shaped, nurtured and protected this environment for millennia. Yet their lives are being destroyed by government efforts to conserve this animal. Survival International researcher Fiore Longo spent time with them in Amrabad and Nagarjunasagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserves, in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh States, India.

“Our ancestors taught us only one thing: Love and respect the forest and it will take care of you. Here we don’t need money to eat and to live. This forest is our breath and our life.”

The Chenchu can recognize five different types of bees that produce five different types of honey. “We leave the larvae so it will recycle again; by looking at the way a bee flies we can know where the honey is”.

Outsiders think that tigers and humans are a threat to one another, but the Chenchu, who live with the animals day to day, have a different perspective; “We love them as we love our children. If a tiger or a leopard kills our cattle, we don’t feel disappointed or angry, instead we feel as if our brothers have visited our homes and they have eaten what they wanted”.

Evidence proves indigenous peoples manage their environment and its wildlife better than anyone else. Yet like other tribes in India’s tiger reserves, such as the Baiga and Mising, the Chenchu are being threatened with illegal eviction from their ancestral homelands: “We will shed every single drop of our blood to protect our rights and our forest. This forest is our home. The flora and fauna of this forest are part of our family. Without us the forest won’t survive, and without the forest we won’t survive.”

Under Indian law, to conduct a relocation of indigenous peoples from their forests, evidence must be provided to demonstrate that the community is irreversibly harming the flora and fauna, and that coexistence with wild animals is impossible. Then, if the community gives its consent, they should be offered one of the two options of the resettlement package that the authorities are obliged by law to provide: either receive cash (Rs 10 lakh per family, around 14,500 US dollars), or move to a resettlement village. This is not what is happening in reality.

This woman is from Pecheru village, which was evicted in the ’80s. Of the 750 families that used to live in the village, the Chenchu told us that only 160 families survived after the eviction took place. Many starved to death. “The thought of that frightens us  – we don’t want to see it. We won’t get the safety we have here anywhere else. Most of us would die of depression, unable to cope with a new life, and the rest of us would die slow, horrible deaths.”

“Among ourselves we have pure love and strong relationships. But outside it is not the same. Everything is related to money. If you don’t have money there is no food and no water. No money means no house and no clothes. It’s a shameless world out there, where nothing is pure. From the air we breathe to the relationships we establish, everything is impure there. We won’t get the safety we have here in the forest anywhere else.”

The Chenchu have released a letter demanding to be allowed to stay in their home: “Since our ancestors’ time, we have been born in this forest and we have died and will die in this very forest. This forest is our breath and our life. This forest is our right and no one can take this right from us and break our bond. If anyone tries to do this, we shall fight against it till our last breath. We will shed every single drop of our blood to protect our rights and our forest.”

Do you want to help the Chenchu? Fill in the form below and Survival International will be in touch

Originally posted 2018-07-27 22:29:43.

Why I Speak Up for Science

Photo: Jennifer Molnar @ The Nature Conservancy

By Jennifer Molnar, Managing Director and Lead Scientist of The Nature Conservancy’s Center for Sustainability Science

Recently, I watched my 5-year-old nephew and 2-year-old twin nieces dig into my mom’s garden in New Jersey—looking for worms and pill bugs and other crawling treasures in the early spring dirt.

It brought back early memories of doing the same with my sister—digging into the dirt, trampling through creeks, climbing trees. Exploring nature, and finding cool things.

My interest in science started in moments like that.

It was fun to find new things. And then I became curious and started asking questions. Why does that animal live there? Why is it that color? What does it eat?

Science is about understanding the world and how it works, and I was beginning by exploring my neighborhood.

The more I’ve explored, the more I’ve learned how integral science is in our lives. By knowing how plants grow, we can raise crops that feed us. Biology and chemistry allow us to learn about diseases and how we can fight them.

Science also shows us how interdependent our world is and how much we depend on nature.

For example, water doesn’t just come into our homes through a pipe. It starts by falling from the sky, then it flows over land before joining with a river or lake and ultimately traveling through that pipe. What that water flows over makes a big difference in how clean it is. Flowing over the pavement of city streets and parking lots, it picks up contaminants like gasoline, motor oil, and trash. Flowing through a forest, the ground can act like a sponge, absorbing and filtering the water.

The Nature Conservancy participates in the Earth Day March for Science on the National Mall in Washington, DC, April 22, 2017. Photo © Lawrence Jackson

We can take advantage of nature’s role in protecting our water supply. Companies can not only look for efficiencies within their factories, but invest in conservation upstream to avoid the need to filter water. And cities can bring elements of nature into their urban spaces—using rain gardens and bioswales to allow rain water to flow more slowly and filter through the ground to enter waterways cleaner.

There are many other ways that nature supports our lives and our economy. Trees filter our air. Healthy soils are needed to grow healthy food. Fish from rivers and oceans feed us. And of course there are the intrinsic values of nature and benefits we get from just spending time in it—relieving stress and having fun.

Science allows us to make better decisions—including how we can better support nature so it keeps supporting us.

Science is also critical to addressing one of the biggest challenges we face today—climate change. We have seen evidence of changes that are already happening, with models indicating more will come if we don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Sea levels are rising. Animals are changing migration patterns and farmers are shifting crop timing due to earlier springs. Weather events are becoming more extreme and less predictable.

Data on these changes allow our communities and companies to better understand the risks and develop solutions to adapt.

Unfortunately, despite the critical role science plays in our lives, its value today often gets questioned. And now in the United States, federal budgets and programs for science and conservation are threatened.

It is more important than ever for us to speak up for science, including the science of nature and its value.

As scientists, this includes communicating the importance of our work not only to peers, but also to broader audiences. To raise awareness of the role science plays in our lives, so it won’t be taken for granted.

All of us can speak up to support science through our votes and calls to government representatives. We can deliver the message that having science data and using it to inform our decisions—in policy, by companies, in our daily lives—is critical.

And I also hope that many more kids will see the wonder and awe of science like I did. Exploring their part of the world and asking questions, and then being inspired to keep asking questions through careers in science. They will be our next generation of explorers and problem solvers—helping us to better understand our world and what we can do so people and nature can thrive together.

Learn more information about the March for Science here: https://www.nature.org/marchforscience

Originally posted 2018-04-12 00:58:51.

Making the Unseen Seen: The True Cost of Oil Spills

In the dark, early hours of October 13th, 2016, the Nathan E. Stewart tugboat and articulated barge surged south through the vast, turbulent waters modernly known as Seaforth Channel in the heart of Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest, in Heiltsuk First Nation territories. The American-based tug (also referred to as the “NES”) was returning to Vancouver Harbor after delivering nearly 8 million liters of jet fuel and gasoline to Ketchikan, Alaska.

Dawn on October 13th revealed the NES run aground on the reefs of Athlone Island, its crew being rescued off the sinking ship by the Canadian Coast Guard. Its hull was hemorrhaging diesel fuel and synthetic lubricants that would eventually result in the devastating spill of over 110,000 liters of contaminants into the Pacific ecosystem. On November 14th, 32 days after its grounding, the disfigured remains of the NES were finally lifted from the seafloor.

The grounded Nathan E Stewart tug sinks beneath the waves in Heiltsuk territory. Photo by April Bencze.

Athlone Island, where the tug and its barge ran aground, is a millennia-old harvesting site stewarded and managed by the Heiltsuk First Nation of Bella Bella, British Columbia, whose unceded territory witnessed the disastrous end of the NES that dark morning in October. The Heiltsuk Nation has fostered complex and sustainable relationships with their traditional lands and waters for at least a documented 14,000 years, and likely longer. The NES spill site, known locally as Gale Pass (at and around the ancient village of Q’vúqvai), was and remains a focal and biodiverse community harvesting ground. The impacts of the diesel spill on the Heiltsuk cannot be overstated; not only do the fishing grounds represent an abundance of protein that supports physical subsistence, but also the area provides a powerful environment to practice traditional harvesting, knowledge transmission, and support Heiltsuk cultural revitalization efforts despite more than two centuries of oppressive colonization.

“While the environmental impacts of oil spills, in Canada and globally, can be measured by instruments of science, the profound personal, cultural, and communal impacts of the NES spill defy measurements by such instruments.”Tweet this

Gale Pass. Photo by April Bencze.

Twenty months after the diesel spill, the Heiltsuk Nation is still grappling with the profound impacts of the social, cultural, and environmental havoc wrought those stormy early morning hours in October 2016. As a Conservation Scientist working at the interface of ecological and social sciences, and a partner to the Heiltsuk Nation in their work to uphold Indigenous management strategies in their traditional territories, I seek to understand these intersectional impacts of such catastrophes. While the environmental impacts of oil spills, in Canada and globally, can be measured by instruments of science, the profound personal, cultural, and communal impacts of the NES spill defy measurements by such instruments. Understanding these impacts, infusing their consequences into modern dialogues regarding the expansion of tanker traffic in Pacific waters, and working towards real reparation, requires sharing of the Heiltsuk lived experience, which only members of the Heiltsuk Nation can do. In poignant and eloquent words, Megan Humchitt, a member of the Heiltsuk Nation, shares her perspective below.

The Canadian Coast Guard and Heiltsuk first responders attempt to diminish the impacts of the Nathan E Stewart spill. Photo by April Bencze.

A Lived Perspective

By: Megan Humchitt

I knew something was wrong when I heard the VHF radio blaring in our kitchen upstairs in the early hours of October 13th. My father worked for the Coast Guard auxiliary for most of his life, and whenever someone was missing or overdue out on the water he would go out looking for them. He saved lives and helped many people from Bella Bella and the surrounding areas. He was able to engage in rescue efforts in any type of weather, day or night, because he knows our territory like the back of his hand. The loud voices on the VHF that night reminded me of those days past when my family and I would sit in the dark, worrying and listening for word from him on the radio. I went upstairs after I heard him leave in the early morning hours of October 13th, where I found a note that read, “oil tanker aground, Gale Rocks”. Fear gripped me. In that moment I knew that I had to go out there – I had to try to help protect our territory. I had to see for myself what was going on.

Gale Pass is a sacred place for us as Heiltsuk; it is a spiritual place, a place that has sustained us through generations. A place of history and culture. A place of present-day Heiltsuk. A place we go to harvest clams, rockfish, lingcod, halibut, herring eggs, and salmon. A place we go to practice ceremony. All these thoughts were running through my mind as we raced towards the location the NES had run aground.

An Orca (Orcinus orca) passes through the Heiltsuk waters near Gale Pass. Photo by April Bencze.

The Ocean is a part of us as Heiltsuk people; we are intrinsically connected to it throughout generations. For as long as I can remember I have been out on the Ocean with my family; it is where I feel most alive. Our health depends on the Ocean. The mood on the herring skiff with my Uncles, Cousin and Husband that early, dark morning as we raced towards the NES was heavy, all of us unsure of what we would see when we arrived at the incident site.

Heiltsuk first responders approach the spill site. Photo by April Bencze.

Chaos. What we witnessed was chaos and confusion. When we arrived at the site of the spill alongside other Heiltsuk boats, our Heiltsuk Guardian Watchmen were already at the site with the Bartlett Coast Guard Vessel. The weather conditions that day were moderate. The tide was falling. The NES tug was grinding on the reef and its connected barge swinging back and forth in the surf. What could we do?! We watched in abject disbelief waiting for the worst to happen. Heiltsuk Mariners tried hailing the Coast Guard on the radio to offer advice on how the tug could be pulled off the rocks, to no avail.

Aerial view of the Nathan E Stewart after sinking. Contaminant booms are deployed in an attempt to contain the diesel spill. Photo by April Bencze.

As the tide fell, the tug began to smash more heavily against the reef, and the chatter on the radio between the Coast Guard and crew was ominous. The pumps on the NES were failing, the hull was breached, it was time for the crew to evacuate the tug. The tug sank in moments. As soon as it was beneath the surface the smell of diesel fumes washed over us, and the water became milky around us. It was the single most helpless feeling that I’ve ever experienced. We think of our territory as part of ourselves – and this crushing new presence felt like a physical assault. The sea conditions were now building, and the tide was turning. The diesel was now flowing into the clam-rich beaches of Gale Pass. We went ashore and walked the beach while we waited for the booms to arrive. The oil washed across the sand and rocks, slick under my boots. My head was dizzy with the fumes.

Oil fills the spaces between rocks on the beaches of Gale Pass. Photo by April Bencze.

As the day progressed we did what we could. We placed booms across the mouth of Gale Pass and around the tug. But the damage was done. Our world was changed. The ride back to Bella Bella was beautiful, the sun golden on the mountains and a humpback whale spouted in the distance. Tears streamed down my face and I grieved.    

“The Ocean is a part of us as Heiltsuk people; we are intrinsically connected to it throughout generations.”Tweet this

Making the Unseen Seen

As scientists and scholars, community members and environmental advocates, Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, authors, readers, and humans – how do we talk about the impacts of the NES oil spill? Certainly, to quantify the oil that seeped from the doomed vessel that day – to count the clams who filtered diesel through their soft bodies, or to enumerate the gulls, or wolves, or bears who consumed contaminated oceanic protein on that foul-smelling beach in October – would not capture the whole narrative.

Marine diversity overlooks the sunken remains of the Nathan E Stewart tugboat. Photo by April Bencze.

“Certainly, to quantify the oil that seeped from the doomed vessel that day – to count the clams who filtered diesel through their soft bodies, or to enumerate the gulls, or wolves, or bears who consumed contaminated oceanic protein on that foul-smelling beach in October – would not capture the whole narrative.”Tweet this

Along Heiltsuk shores, part of the temperate rainforest iconically known to the world and National Geographic as the “Great Bear Rainforest”, the irreparability of such spills defy calculation. For the Heiltsuk people, the impacts of the spill still ripple ceaselessly through their lives, nearly two years after the incident. While the oil slicks have disappeared from Gale Pass beaches, Heiltsuk people wonder if local black bears harbor toxins, if ancient cedar trees and their bark that is so culturally important are forever changed. How do we understand the magnitude of spill impacts for a culture that views the Ocean as home, and whose cultural, personal, and physical sustenance is supported by the abundance of species it houses? Perhaps we do so through poetry, through ecologically-embedded social sciences, or through improved cross-cultural communications. More importantly, perhaps we do so by restoring the Heiltsuk’s – and other First Nations’- rights to respond to environmental destruction in their own territories, and by recognizing their rights to dictate who, and what, navigate through their Oceans (and lands).

“Along Heiltsuk shores, part of the temperate rainforest iconically known to the world and National Geographic as the “Great Bear Rainforest”, the irreparability of such spills defy calculation.”Tweet this

Megan Humchitt sits within two conjoined Cedar Trees within Heiltsuk territory. Photo by Megan Humchitt.

As British Columbia faces ever-increasing pressure to allow tanker traffic and pipeline expansions through traditional Indigenous territories, understanding these impacts in real and meaningful ways has never been more crucial. On an objective scale, the calamity caused by the NES was small relative to the consequences that would have resulted had the tanker and articulated barge not delivered their payload before meeting an untimely end. Threats of catastrophic tanker spills in Heiltsuk territory persist – near misses occurring far too frequently. Proposals to increase tanker traffic across provincial coastlines only increase the chances of a spill that would result in irreparable cultural and ecological consequences; changes to protect the entire coast from the threat of oil spills must occur –  before the unthinkable does.

Originally posted 2018-07-21 04:04:25.

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