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Shauna Doll measures a tree in the Gulf Islands.

Introducing the Pender Islands Big Tree Registry

Approximately 25% of the global extent of Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) forests and associated habitats occur in the Gulf Islands region of the Capital Regional District (CRD). The smallest of 16 biogeoclimatic (BEC) zones in the province, the CDF zone is characterized by towering conifer species like Western red cedar and Coastal Douglas-fir; diverse and rare ecosystems like Garry oak meadows; and many native and endangered  bird, insect, and animal species.

Coastal Douglas-fir forests (CDF)

Located in the temperate  “rainshadow” region of coastal British Columbia, the CDF has been dramatically fragmented by increasing industrial, commercial, and residential development. In recent years this development pressure has been exacerbated by the progressively tangible impacts of climate change, which along with unregulated deer browsing, natural fire suppression, and invasions of non-native species, cumulatively pose a significant threat to an assemblage of ecosystems already teetering on the brink of collapse. 

The Pender Islands Big Tree Registry aims to raise awareness about the rare and endangered status of CDF forests and associated ecosystems on the Gulf Islands. The registry has been modelled, with permission, after the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) big tree registry.

Tree measure verification

Though not a brand new idea, big tree registries have been found to be useful tools for:

  1. increasing public awareness about the importance of healthy trees and healthy forests;
  2. identifying areas of high conservation priority; and
  3. providing valuable information to help find protection for iconic trees.

With approval from UBC’s Big Tree Committee to use their already developed guiding resources, along with having a qualified “Tree Measurer” on the Raincoast team who can verify community big tree nominations, Raincoast is well equipped to support Pender residents in participating in this program as citizen scientists. This initiative will increase public awareness of forest conservation challenges on the Gulf Islands, while creating actionable opportunities to contribute to tangible solutions. It will also encourage folks to get outdoors to search for, and identify, big trees.