Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation launched their joint Tâdzié/Sagow Atihk Stewardship Plan at COP15

Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) launched their joint Tâdzié/Sagow Atihk (woodland caribou) Stewardship Plan at COP15, the United Nations biodiversity conference recently held in Montreal. Woodland caribou have been in decline for many years in ACFN and MCFN homelands, and with levels of habitat disturbance as high as 90% in some areas, the ongoing decline is no surprise. “The disappearance of these sensitive animals is a sign to Elders and knowledge holders from both nations that the boreal ecosystem, which is essential to the continued practice of ACFN and MCFN rights, is highly stressed. Protecting and recovering these ecosystems is critical to recover tâdzié/sagow atihk and restore ACFN and MCFN rights within their territories,” reads the stewardship plan. ACFN and MCFN worked with The Firelight Group in developing this plan, and Firelight’s Senior Ecology Technical Lead Susan Leech attended COP15 alongside representatives from ACFN & MCFN.

Additionally, the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework was announced yesterday at COP15. After four years of work and negotiations, this agreement is a global commitment to biodiversity conservation. The GBF provides a roadmap for recovery, with a plan to protect and conserve at least 30% of the world’s lands, seas and inland waters by 2030. The 30×30 effort reflects the rights of Indigenous peoples as fundamental to meeting this target, particularly in Target 3 where Indigenous traditional territories are recognized as a potential means to equitably conserve and manage land and water.

The Tâdzié/Sagow Atihk Stewardship Plan is one tangible way that Canada can meet its commitment to 30×30, while upholding UNDRIP and recognizing Indigenous leadership. ACFN and MCFN Elders and knowledge holders have identified the goal of replenishing caribou populations and habitat in the homelands within 40 years, guided by Dené and Cree Laws. To achieve this goal, the Stewardship Plan places 65% of each woodland caribou range covered by the Plan into one of two zones that prioritizes habitat protection and restoration, reflecting the need to allow these areas to rest and recover. It specifically identifies that one third of each range must be fully protected as soon as possible—an approach that aligns well with the GBF’s 30×30 target. The Plan further recognizes Indigenous Guardians, the implementation of Dené and Cree stewardship protocols, and intergenerational knowledge transfer as key elements for replenishing caribou populations, and highlights the importance of collaborating across governments, industry, and interests groups to achieve this goal.

Read the full Tâdzié/Sagow Atihk Stewardship Plan here: