The elements of ecosystem-based management (EBM) were developed during the Central Coast Land and Resource Management Plan process, from 1996 to 2003, and since then in government-to-government processes. EBM works towards high levels of achievement in two strategic goals:
1. Human well being; and
2. Ecological integrity of old growth forest ecosystems.
EBM has a:
1. Government-to-government collaborative, strategic management system;
3. Rules and Regulations for economic activity, including the 2009 Land Use Objectives for forestry; and
4. Economic opportunities for people living in the area.
The government-to-government strategic management system that began in the Southern Central Coast portion of the member Nations' traditional territories has evolved, and through the Strategic Engagement Agreement now applies to the remainder of the traditional territories on Vancouver Island.
The Conservancies and Biodiversity Tourism and Mining Areas were the subject of government-to-government discussions from 2004 to 2006, and confirmed, subject to further discussions being completed, in the 2006 Land Use Planning Agreement-in-Principle. The boundaries of the Conservancies were legislated by the provincial government between 2006 and 2009. Subsequent Protected Area Collaborative Management Agreements committed to provide the First Nations with enhanced economic opportunities in the Conservancies, and to develop the Management Plans collaboratively.
The Nanwakolas Council works within a collaborative management relationship with the province regarding the implementation of EBM. When the First Nation and provincial governments agree on the goals and intent of environmental, forestry or other resource management, then both governments rely on their respective laws, regulations and compliance and enforcement agencies for implementation.
In some parts of the member First Nations' traditional territories, old growth forest ecosystems can be maintained, and in the majority of the traditional territories, they must be recreated by allowing second growth forest to become old, and then keep it old. The 2009 Land Use Order divides the forests into types, over 100 for the EBM region between Bute Inlet and Stewart Inlet, and gives a goal regionally and locally for each type of forest. The regional goal is between 50 and 70 per cent old growth, and the local goal is 30 per cent or more old growth. Conservancies and Biodiversity Tourism and Mining Areas are all maintained as old growth. Rare forests and prime grizzly bear habitat are fully protected. The riparian area along streams where fish spawn and grow are reserved from commercial forestry for 1 ½ tree lengths, or roughly 75 meters, on both sides of the river. Areas of historical or cultural importance to First Nations are given additional protection.
EBM intends to have simultaneous improvements in human well being, which requires economic diversification and growth, and the health of old growth ecosystems. Some economic opportunities in tourism and other resource industries are assigned directly to First Nations. The Coast Opportunities Fund is only for First Nations in the EBM area, and is assigned to individual Nations. It has one pool of funds for economic development, and a second pool for cultural and environmental protection.