Land Management – MVR

Land & Water Management – Mackenzie Valley Region

Land and water Boards are responsible through legislation and regulation to administer the use of land and water and the deposit of waste in each of their respective management areas on both public and private lands.

How are land and water boards organized?

There are four land and water boards in the Mackenzie Valley Region that perform the same function in different jurisdictions:

  • Gwich’in
  • Sahtu
  • Wek’eezhii
  • Mackenzie Valley (Dehcho, Akaitcho and transboundary)

What do the land and water boards do?

These boards regulate the use of land and water, and the deposit of waste, through the issuing of Land Use Permits and Water Licenses.

Where do the rules come from?

Issuing permits and licenses is guided by the following:

What does the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board (MVLWB) do?

The main function of the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board is to issue land use permits and water licences on land in unsettled land claim areas (i.e. the Dehcho, and North and South Slave areas). The board also processes transboundary land and water use applications (i.e. projects that cross settled or unsettled land claim boundaries).

The Board’s other functions include:

  • Ensuring consistency in the application of the legislation throughout the Mackenzie Valley
  • Administering land use permits and water licences that were issued prior to the MVRMA

What do the regional land and water boards do in the settled claims areas?

The Gwich’in, Sahtu and Wek’eezhii Land and Water Boards issue land use permits and water licences in their respective areas on public and private lands. They are regional panels of the MVLWB, and the members of the regional panels are also members of the MVLWB.

Environmental assessment board in the Mackenzie Valley

Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board (MVEIRB)

Established under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA), the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board (MVEIRB) is responsible for carrying out preliminary screenings, environmental assessments and environmental impact reviews of proposed developments. The Board carries out environmental assessments or reviews of projects referred to it by other organizations, including the land and water Boards, on all lands (private and public) in the NWT, except in the ISR.

For the most part, the MVRMA replaces the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) in the NWT, except in the ISR, where the CEAA still applies.

Renewable resource boards in the Mackenzie Valley

Co-management boards that act in the public interest to manage renewable resources—that is, wildlife, fish and forests—in their respective regions.

In settled claim areas in the Mackenzie Valley, renewable resource boards have been established through land claim agreements in the Gwich’in, Sahtu and Tlicho regions.

In unsettled claim areas, structures for the management of renewable resources have yet to be established, and will be addressed as part of ongoing land claims negotiations. In the meantime, the Government of the Northwest Territories fulfills this function.

Land use planning in the Mackenzie Valley Region

Before any discussion of Land Use Planning Boards, it is helpful to have an overview of the land use planning process in general, and the approach to and status of land use planning across different regions in the NWT.

In the NWT, land use planning is a critical part of effective management and use of lands and resources.

Land use plans provide guidance on what activities should or should not take place on the lands of the North. Special areas of spiritual, ecological or cultural importance can be protected, and there can also be areas designated for development.

Land use planning is not just about restricting development – rather, it is about creating certainty for where, when and how development can or cannot take place.

Land use plans provide guidance to the regulatory authorities. For example, under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA), boards cannot issue licences or permits that are not consistent with an approved Land Use Plan.

However, while the principles of what land use planning should achieve are generally consistent, the approaches to developing land use plans vary by region within the NWT.

Land use planning in the Mackenzie Valley Region – Regional Approaches


In the Sahtu and Gwich’in regions, decisions were made during negotiations to take a settlement region-wide approach to land use planning, for both private and public lands. Co-management boards were created to develop land use plans in these regions, with representation from both the federal, territorial and aboriginal governments. To date, the Gwich’in is the only region to have a completed land use plan.

The Tlicho Government has jurisdiction to develop a land use plan for the 39000 km2 of Tlicho-owned lands. A land use planning committee has been established, and has been working for several years to develop this plan. The Tlicho Government can approve the plan unilaterally.

On lands outside of Tlicho lands but within the Wek’èezhìi management area, the federal government has the responsibility to establish a process to carry out land use planning. To date, no action has been taken to initiate this process, however the Tlicho Agreement does suggest that this planning could be coordinated with any land use planning activities undertaken for Tlicho lands.

In the Dehcho, a land use planning committee has been established under the Dehcho Interim Measures Agreement.

No formalized land use planning process exists in the Akaitcho.

Neil McCrank’s 2008 “Road to Improvement” report, the 2005 Environmental Audit and numerous other reports have indicated that land use planning is critical, in order to ensure certainty, protection and public involvement in land use management.

Land Use Planning Boards

Land Use Planning Boards develop and implement regional land use plans.

Land use planning boards have been established in the Sahtu and Gwich’in regions, through land claim agreements, as reflected in regulations in the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act (MVRMA).

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