Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Pender Islands Conservancy have raised 70% of the $2.1 million required to complete the purchase of KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest and have until the end of the year to do it. Today, the two organizations launched a matching campaign where every dollar donated before the end of the year will be matched.
KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest on S,DÁYES (Pender Island) links wetland headwaters to intertidal foreshore across globally rare Coastal Douglas-fir forests. It is home to maturing coastal Douglas-fir, western red cedar, and arbutus trees, and connects to Plumper Sound, critical habitat for endangered Southern Resident killer whales.
Before this land protection campaign was launched, the land now known as KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest was slated for development. If those plans had proceeded this forest would have been transformed from a refugia to a residential suburb.
Many habitats found across the Gulf Islands landscape are classified as critically imperilled due to land conversion and development. Accordingly, protected areas are generally small and isolated. This patchwork is contrary to one of the most vital strategies for maintaining ecological integrity and viable habitat: connectivity.
KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest is an essential piece of a nature corridor. Its securement will connect a network of protected places and by doing so, will contribute to a broader regional effort to enhance ecological and community resilience around the Salish Sea. In a region with less than 1% of its historic extent of old growth remaining, it is essential to safeguard the maturing old growth forests of the future.
“Because the CDF region contains some of the most expensive land in the province, there are significant challenges to successfully undertaking land protection projects here. Land values are driven by the region’s characteristic Mediterranean climate, which has resulted in high levels of human settlement and commercial development pressures–this is particularly true of waterfront properties, which are both more ecologically valuable and expensive. This pressure, in turn, has resulted in a largely fragmented landscape where larger parcels of undeveloped land are hard to come by, making the 45 acres of relatively undisturbed ecosystems of Kingfisher Forest quite rare.” – Shauna Doll, Forest Conservation Program Coordinator, Raincoast Conservation Foundation
“Healthy, intact, diverse, and resilient natural ecosystems are important to maintain and protect, particularly in the Southern Gulf Islands, where so much of the Coastal Douglas-fir forests have been fragmented, shorelines damaged, and wetlands lost due to development. Land purchasing for permanent protection is an important means to ensure these ecosystems persist on the landscape, and this approach provides local communities with the opportunity to be involved in tangible environmental protection efforts. The protection of Kingfisher Forest will secure a diverse network of connected ecosystems that support biodiversity and buffer effects of climate change, in turn enhancing our local community resilience.” – Erin O’Brien, Ecology and Conservation Director, Pender Islands Conservancy
“There are few places in British Columbia where we have studied old-growth forests in detail. In these places, we found all kinds of species – insects, spiders, mites, and canopy lichens – that are either new to British Columbia or new to science. We know very, very little about the community of organisms in old growth forest canopies. Without old growth forests over most of the Gulf Islands we lack those communities of organisms. I think it is safe to say that there will be undescribed species – species new to science – in Kingfisher Forest ” – Dr. Andy MacKinnon
- KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest is an 45 acre (18 hectare) property representative of the Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) biogeoclimatic zone, the smallest and least protected of 16 such zones in British Columbia.
- Currently, protected areas within the CDF, especially on the Gulf Islands, are small and disconnected. The purchase of this property aims to increase connectivity, restore degraded habitat, and protect old growth forests of the future.
- Nearly every ecological community associated with the CDF is provincially listed in B.C. as threatened/endangered due to ongoing development, limited protection policy, and high proportions of private land ownership.
- Northern red-legged frogs, which are blue-listed in BC and as special concern under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), Pacific chorus frogs, and over 100 species of birds including many that appear on Schedule 1 of SARA call KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest and the surrounding protected areas home.
- B.C. is the most biologically diverse province in Canada– but it is also a hotspot for biodiversity loss.
Raincoast Conservation Foundation is a team of conservationists and scientists empowered by our research to protect the lands, waters and wildlife of coastal British Columbia. We use rigorous, peer-reviewed science and community engagement to further our conservation objectives. We call this approach informed advocacy. As a charitable, non-profit conservation science organization that operates a land trust, restoration programming, research lab, research field station and a research/sailing vessel, we are unique in Canada.
The Pender Conservancy Association is a registered charity and land trust committed to land protection and restoration; long-term ecological research and monitoring; and public education on Pender Island, British Columbia. We promote effective conservation at local scales through science-based community outreach and support. In addition to our community-based conservation programs, our activities also include collaborations with other organizations working to understand and protect marine and Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems in the Salish Sea more broadly.