The Environmental Law Centre–in collaboration with the Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network, a project of the Coastal First Nations Great Bear Initiative–has developed a tool to help First Nations better protect the environment in their territories. Environmental Laws: A Field Guide for BCs North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii summarizes:
- Techniques that First Nations Guardian Watchmen (environmental monitors) can use to investigate environmental offences; and
- The major environmental offences that apply on Haida Gwaii and the North/Central coast.
The Field Guide is a short book designed to give Guardian Watchmen in the field a quick snapshot of the law. It will help them identify whether activity they see on the coast actually breaks any provincial or federal laws. The Guide provides easily understood “one-liners,” and is highlighted with illustrations. The Guide will enhance the efforts of members of the Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network to monitor and report on environmental infractions. This important Network works with eight coastal First Nations to support local Guardian Watchmen programs. As provincial and federal environmental agencies continually cut personnel and capacity, the local First Nation communities have stepped in to monitor resource use and to protect the richness and diversity of natural resources on the coast. “The Guardian Watchmen have the will and the capacity to conduct effective monitoring on the North and Central Coast,” said Claire Hutton, coordinator for the Network. “This Field Guide will give them the basic information they need to do this job. It will further their aim and ability to be stewards of the land and sea.” With fewer government “boots on the ground” to conduct monitoring and enforcement and with ever increasing environmental challenges, there is a critical need for First Nations, who know the territory best, to conduct monitoring and reporting of environmental infractions. It is hoped that this new legal tool will assist in that important work. For more information on the Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network, see www.coastalguardianwatchmen.ca.