Saving Rare Habitats on Galiano Island – Two Major Wins for Environmental Conservation
The Galiano Conservancy Association (GCA), an environmental charity founded in 1989 as one of BC’s first community-based land trusts, works to protect, steward and restore Galiano Island ecosystems by creating a network of natural areas where a healthy environment, learning and a love of nature flourish. The recent protection of Quadra Hill, an ecologically significant property on Galiano Island, marks a milestone in the region’s conservation efforts. Key partnerships developed over several years were vital in completing this acquisition.
Quadra Hill: Bridging Protected Areas for Enhanced Biodiversity
Quadra Hill is a 47-ha parcel of coastal Douglas-fir forest long identified as a ‘missing piece’ in the corridor of protected habitats connecting Trincomali Channel to Georgia Strait on Galiano Island known as the Mid-Island Protected Areas Network . The ecologically diverse property was listed for sale by a motivated seller in late 2021, and has been owned for the past two years by the Aqueduct Foundation, one of the largest grantmakers in Canada, which agreed to step in as an interim owner at the GCA’s request, in order to provide temporary protection until adequate funds could be raised to purchase the land for conservation purposes. This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change, and an initial opportunity grant from the Islands Trust Conservancy. Generous contributions from Sitka Foundation, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and private donors enabled GCA to complete this important land acquisition.
The ecological value of Quadra Hill is hard to overstate. It is home to rare and varied ecosystems, is part of the upper catchment area for the Great Beaver Swamp Nature Reserve and is important for groundwater recharge. Because it is surrounded by existing conservation areas and a common-property forest, the protection of Quadra Hill enhances habitat connectivity and supports a diversity of plant and animal communities across three watersheds.
The Quadra Hill property also plays an important role in climate action, storing an estimated 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, and is expected to sequester an additional 8,000 tons over the next 30 years.
Mt Sutil Extension: Preserving Imperiled Garry Oak Ecosystems
The GCA also recently partnered with the BC Parks Foundation (BCPF), Sitka Foundation and an anonymous donor to protect 4.2 ha of coastal Douglas-fir forest and sensitive Garry Oak bluff habitat neighbouring the existing Mt. Sutil Nature Sanctuary (GCA’s first land acquisition). Garry oak and associated ecosystems are home to over 100 provincially-listed species at risk. The remote and relatively undisturbed meadows and bluffs of Mount Sutil have been identified as a priority site for conserving these rare habitats, and are a testament to the ecological richness of Galiano Island.
A New Chapter in Island Conservation
These two landmark acquisitions enhance biodiversity, increase habitat connectivity, support climate action, and protect several provincially-listed species at risk. They also mark a first in GCA history, as the valuable partnerships involved allowed the GCA to protect these lands without a public fundraising campaign, highlighting the power of collaborative conservation.
As we celebrate the protection of Quadra Hill and the Mount Sutil Extension, the GCA recognizes and respects the enduring relationship Penelakut, Hwlitsum, Tsawwassen, Lelum Sar Augh Ta Naogh and other Coast Salish peoples have to these lands as part of their traditional territories. As stewards of these new conservation areas, the Galiano Conservancy is committed to honouring and learning from the rich cultural heritage and ecological wisdom of the First Nations whose ancestral connections to these lands continue to this day.
About the Galiano Conservancy Association
The Galiano Conservancy Association is committed to preserving the ecological balance and unique natural heritage of BC’s Southern Gulf Islands. This is accomplished through environmental education, land stewardship, ecological restoration, biodiversity monitoring & conservation, and demonstrating sustainable living practices within the Galiano community and beyond.
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