Ambitious land purchase to protect at risk Gulf Island habitats

Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Pender Islands Conservancy are raising funds to purchase and protect a 45 acre property within the increasingly threatened Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems on S,DÁYES (Pender Island).

Shoreline and Coastal Douglas-fir forest.
Photo by Alex Harris / Raincoast Conservation Foundation.

Pender Island, BC – After success initiating their first joint land acquisition in 2020, Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Pender Islands Conservancy Association are pursuing another, much more ambitious land protection initiative less than one year later: a 45 acre oceanfront property on S,DÁYES (Pender Island) with a purchase price of $2.18 million. 

Located just above Razor Point, or KELÁ_EKE in SENĆOŦEN, this property links a freshwater wetland, through the upland forest to the shores of Plumper Sound. Belted kingfishers patrol the shore, foraging and defending their nest burrows that line the embankment overlooking the intertidal zone below.To reflect this interconnectivity between land and sea, the property has been named KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest. The forest is populated by maturing stands of grand fir, western redcedar, arbutus, and Coastal Douglas-fir.

This property lies within British Columbia’s Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) biogeoclimatic zone, an exceptionally diverse sliver of the southern BC coast. More than 99% of the original forest has been logged. Almost every ecological community associated with this zone is provincially listed as threatened or endangered. 

At no point in history is the importance of community-led actions to preserve remaining tracts of unspoiled foreshore, upland forests and wetlands more urgent. As climate change and land conversion place unprecedented pressures of uncertainty on food security and living conditions for species of this region, the best chance to improve their survival and build ecological resilience is by acquiring, protecting, and restoring remaining tracts of undeveloped private land. 

“The value of this land lies particularly in its diversity and proximity to other protected areas on the landscape,” says Erin O’Brien, Community Outreach and Project Coordinator with the Pender Islands Conservancy. “Securing this piece of a highly threatened ecosystem will provide ecological benefits far greater than would be expected from its size alone, because of the diverse coastal, upland forest, and wetland habitats and species it supports.”

“This is a good news story for these at-risk places,” says Shauna Doll, Gulf Islands Forest Project Coordinator at Raincoast Conservation Foundation. “We have been inundated with stories about climate catastrophe and ecological loss over the past year and this sort of tangible approach to conservation can bring us all hope.”