A future for the Gulf Islands’ forests

A scientist in a checked shirt and pale pink hat, carrying a backpack looks up at the trees inside the forest with a measuring device.

Photo by Alex Harris/ Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

Raincoast’s newest initiative aims to protect Coastal Douglas-fir forests and associated habitats across the Gulf Islands. These are some of the least protected and most threatened forests in BC. With 30% of the province’s Coastal Douglas-fir forests occuring within the Islands Trust jurisdiction, and few tools for them to implement and enforce environmental regulation, policy change is necessary for long-term conservation.

To address this, Raincoast enlisted the help of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria in early 2020 to perform a legislative review of the Islands Trust powers to regulate forest protection. We presented the report, with its ten recommendations, to the Islands Trust Council in the fall. Two motions were passed that put forest protection on the political agenda. Next year, we will support the Trust in its efforts to uphold their ‘preserve and protect’ mandate by continuing legislative work, making delegations, and engaging in community collaborations.

Acquiring the S,DÁYES Flycatcher Forest

To address the gap between the urgency of forest protection and meaningful policy, Raincoast has partnered with the Pender Islands Conservancy to purchase a 13 acre forest and wetland complex on North Pender Island. At least 35 bird species have been identified here, including olive-sided flycatchers. As a species linking forests and wetlands, the olive-sided flycatcher has become the namesake of the place we are calling the S,DÁYES Flycatcher Forest.

Finally, to complement public policy and private protection, we also implemented stewardship initiatives like the Pender Islands Big Tree Registry, recording the biggest and oldest of the island’s trees with the community in a public registry and website.

A narrow yellow tape measure is visible drawn across the girth of a tree
Photo by Alex Harris/ Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

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