The goal of the research project was to provide a list of conservation-friendly small business opportunities that are viable, increase community employment to levels more closely resembling national rural averages, provide alternatives to activities which threaten biological diversity, and lead towards an environmentally responsible economy in Clayoquot Sound.
Given that social equity is a key goal of sustainable development and that rural, First Nations communities within the region have not benefited significantly from the resource extraction economy the study was designed to focus specifically on opportunities appropriate for these communities. An agreement was developed with Ahousaht First Nation to allow the research team to examine economic opportunities with a particular emphasis on those that might best support the needs and priorities of their community.
The research and report is intended to benefit tribal, municipal, and provincial decision-makers, entrepreneurs, “green” investors and funders who are interested in crafting a sustainable economy in Clayoquot Sound. It provides tangible information for integrating socio-economic needs into conservation decision-making and for attracting investment. The report’s findings mayl help allay fears of a transition to a sustainable economy—fears that present barriers to change and to harnessing the amazing opportunities offered by the region’s natural, economic, social and cultural wealth. This report challenges the region and its community leaders to meet their commitment as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and to pursue these opportunities in a manner that protects options for future generations of Clayoquot residents.