B.C.’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (MOE) has allocated $10 million in funding for ecosystem and species conservation via the Conservation Economic Stimulus Initiative (CESI). As part of StrongerBC, this new program will support B.C.’s economic recovery by investing in ecosystem and species restoration projects across the province. These projects will employ British Columbians, with a focus on demographics such as young adult, women, and Indigenous People who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, by funding “shovel ready” conservation projects that will also help to protect and improve B.C.’s diverse ecosystems, wildlife, and freshwater fish species.
Conservation and restoration projects will be underway in threatened habitats, such as wetlands, grasslands, forests, rivers, and streams. On southern Vancouver Island, the Koksilah and Chemainus watersheds support large populations of steelhead and salmon species. They have significant historical and cultural values for Cowichan Tribes. However, climate change, along with water and land-use practices, are impacting salmon in the area and their habitats. The Cowichan Watershed Board will assess salmon populations, study the water levels that support salmon habitat and restore habitat along the rivers.
“The Koksilah and Chemainus river ecosystems are being threatened by climate change, which we know will have impacts on salmon and everything that depends on them for decades to come. By bringing together Indigenous knowledge of the past with scientific study of the rivers today, we can understand how to plan for these changes,” said Chief William Seymour of the Cowichan Tribes. “This is critical work for our Nations’ food and culture, but healthy salmon watersheds feed species all up and down the coast and are a benefit to the whole province.”
More than 60 projects dedicated to restoring diverse ecosystems and conserving fish, wildlife, and habitat are planned or underway throughout B.C. The projects, which are being completed through partnerships with Indigenous communities, environmental groups, universities, and local stewardship organizations, help ensure B.C.’s unique species and ecosystems stay healthy, vibrant, and resilient.