Project TEACH Solutions Session

After five weeks of virtual expert panel discussions, Raincoast and partners are inviting scientists, students, community members, and policymakers to gather for an afternoon of discussion around developing stronger environmental protections within the Capital Regional District and beyond.

In an effort to bring experts, advocates, and decision makers together to better understand how to better protect intact ecosystems and therefore maintain climate resilience, Raincoast and Coexisting with Carnivores Alliance (CwCA) partnered with the Applied Conservation Science Lab at University of Victoria and the Wildlife Coexistence Lab at University of BC to create Project TEACH (Talking about Ecology and Aims for Conserving Habitat).

Project TEACH began with five webinar episodes, presented every Thursday between May 12 and June 9, 2022. Each episode featured  a panel of three experts who explored landscape-level impacts of human decision-making focused on such themes as human/carnivore connections and the balancing act between conservation and recreation. On June 23rd, the teachings from these sessions will be mobilized at an in-person gathering we are calling the Solutions Session. This event will be hosted at University of Victoria from 1PM- 4PM. It is free to attend and  open to the public, with special invitations extended to students, scientists, municipal decision-makers, and First Nation experts and community members. 

The session will open with an all-star panel featuring talks by Deborah Curran, Lauren Eckert, and Chief Gordon Planes, moderated by Dr. Andy MacKinnon. We will then move into a brainstorming session to  explore pathways for mobilizing the knowledge shared throughout the Project TEACH series to inform stronger environmental protections within the CRD and beyond. These sessions will be moderated by different members of the Project TEACH team including Dr. Cole Burton, Nitya Chari Harris, and Alastair Craighead. This event will also be live streamed to ensure it is accessible to those who may not be able to attend in person. 

Following the Solutions Session, project partners will compile the science shared by expert panelists and the feedback collected from session attendees into a final report tol be delivered to municipal councilors and Islands Trustees this summer. By making science accessible and providing opportunities to engage with experts and policy-makers, we hope that this session will empower community members to participate in local decision-making thus contributing to the “culture of conservation” our project partners are working together to encourage. 

Wolves on a beach.
Photo by Steve Woods.

Background on Project TEACH

In winter of 2021, Raincoast Conservation Foundation met with the CwCA to explore synergies between our two organizations’ efforts to improve protections of the Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) and Coastal Western Hemlock (CWH) habitats characteristic of southern and northern Vancouver Island respectively.  This discussion was necessitated by increasing anxiety within our conservation communities around shifting management objectives and priorities within the Capital Regional District (CRD)’s protected places. In 2008, the CRD signed the BC Climate Action Charter and committed to advancing efforts to mitigate, reduce, and adapt to climate change impacts. 

Nearly a decade later in 2019, the CRD Board prioritized “Climate Action and Environmental Stewardship,” declared a climate emergency, and made a commitment to contribute to limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Since then catastrophic wildfires, flood-induced landslides, and an unprecedented heat dome have demonstrated the amplitude of climate change consequences on British Columbia’s landscape, which are only expected to increase in frequency and severity as time goes on. The time for timid environmental protection policy has long since passed. 

Yet, the recent Regional Parks Strategic Plan Update has not reflected the climate commitments made by the CRD in 2019. Since settlement, rampant ecological degradation has occurred throughout this region, leaving only fragments of the abundance and biodiversity stewarded by Coast Salish Nations since time immemorial. In recent decades, environmental organizations, First Nations communities, and passionate individuals have tirelessly advocated for the limited pockets of protection that currently exist. Communities continue to be called on to defend existing natural places that were already presumed protected, while also campaigning to protect the few intact ecosystems that remain on the landscape.

You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.