Wednesday, May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

Pair of parcels conserved on Galiano Island

Two Galiano Island properties recently purchased for environmental protection marked a first for one conservation group: both were acquired without a public fundraising campaign. 

Galiano Conservancy Association (GCA) development coordinator Martine Paulin said the recent protection of 116 acres at Quadra Hill — and the addition of more than 10 further acres to the existing Mount Sutil Nature Sanctuary — were each accomplished through partnerships that had been developed over several years. 

“These two landmark acquisitions enhance biodiversity, increase habitat connectivity, support climate action and protect several provincially listed species at risk,” said Paulin, adding that the now-expanded Mount Sutil property was GCA’s first land acquisition, shortly after the charity was founded in 1989. 

The expansion of the remote and relatively undisturbed Mount Sutil meadows and bluffs came thanks to a partnership with the BC Parks Foundation (BCPF), Sitka Foundation and an anonymous donor — protecting an additional 10.4 acres of coastal Douglas-fir forest and sensitive Garry oak bluff habitat. The new protected area, now owned by BCPF and currently referred to as the Mount Sutil Extension, will be leased to GCA for ongoing stewardship, allowing for more effective control of invasive plants and documentation of species-at-risk across both properties. Garry oak and associated ecosystems are home to over 100 provincially listed species at risk, according to the GCA. 

The parcel on Quadra Hill is another stretch of coastal Douglas-fir forest long identified as a “missing piece” in a corridor of protected habitats, connecting Trincomali Channel to Georgia Strait, known as the Mid-Island Protected Areas Network.  

The ecologically diverse property was listed for sale by a motivated seller in late 2021, according to Paulin, 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.  

That 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. Further contributions from Sitka Foundation, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation and private donors enabled GCA to complete the acquisition.   

“The ecological value of Quadra Hill is hard to overstate,” said Paulin. “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.” 

And, according to GCA, 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 a role in climate action, according to the GCA, 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.  

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