The Nature Trust of B.C. rallies to protect crucial Salmon spawning river and old-growth forest from development; campaign launches to raise the remaining $415,000 needed to conserve the land.
February 27, 2023, Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada – Today, The Nature Trust of British Columbia, one of the province’s leading non-profit land conservation organizations, announces a crowdfunding campaign to protect 15 hectares (36 acres) of undeveloped land in the traditional territory of the Qualicum First Nation, along the Little Qualicum River on the mid-east coast of Vancouver Island.
This property would be the non-profit’s first acquisition along this river, presenting the opportunity to begin a new conservation complex. The area is located in one of B.C.’s most at-risk zones – the Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) biogeoclimatic zone. Only 11% of this ecologically vulnerable habitat has been protected in B.C., and it is considered a conservation concern.
Little Qualicum River is a crucial salmon spawning river that supports both Indigenous and recreational fisheries. It provides spawning and rearing habitat for many salmon species, including Chinook, Chum, Steelhead, and Coho. Coastal Cutthroat Trout are also found within the river and there is a salmon hatchery upstream of the property.
Salmon are a vital species in B.C.’s waters with their life cycle providing various environmental benefits. After salmon hatch, they swim out into the oceans and grow into adults. They gather nutrients from the sea, then return to the rivers when they spawn. After salmon spawn and die, they decompose, and insects and animals eat them, dispersing the minerals and nutrients from the ocean throughout the riverine ecosystems and surrounding forests. As scavengers drag the salmon into the forest to feed, nitrogen is distributed, fertilizing rare riparian plants and ecosystems. This lifecycle stabilizes river banks, promotes healthy forests, and allows future generations of salmon to thrive.
“Salmon provide such a service to these ecosystems. Not only do they nourish the species that live in the area, but they also keep forests healthy. We need salmon to help our local ecosystems thrive, and protecting this area is an impactful step in the right direction.” said Dr. Jasper Lament, CEO of The Nature Trust.
Salmon is a prominent food source for hundreds of animal and plant species near Little Qualicum River, from insects and invertebrates to apex predators like bears. The nutrient density of the river makes it an area of continental significance to waterfowl, including migratory and species of concern. The river provides habitat for at-risk birds such as the Surf Scoter, Purple Martin, Barn Swallow, and Olive-sided Flycatcher.
Salmon contribute significantly to the connectivity of these lush forests and riparian properties and provide nourishment for the many endangered species within the conservation area.
The area provides habitat and food for at least three blue-listed dragonflies such as the Autumn Meadowhawk, the Blue Dasher, and Western Pondhawk. Endangered bats like the Little Brown Myotis and Northern Myotis also frequent this property. These insects, birds, and bats are integral to the ecosystem’s health as they spread nutrients from the river throughout the larger food chain, river bank, and forests.
Nearly one-third of this property contains older forests with scattered veteran trees that have grown in the area for up to 250 years. These old-growth trees not only provide habitat and sanctuary for species but also absorb and sequester large amounts of carbon, acting as a natural solution for climate change. This property is currently zoned to allow for residential development and has merchantable timber value. Purchasing this property will ensure that the incredible biodiversity and sensitive ecosystems will be protected.
The purchase of this 15-hectare parcel of land will add to the legacy of The Nature Trust of B.C., demonstrating its unwavering commitment to protecting the vulnerable ecosystems and rich biodiversity in B.C. and helping to mitigate the impact of climate change in our province.
You can support The Nature Trust of B.C. in purchasing and protecting the Little Qualicum River by donating to their campaign. The deadline for fundraising is April 30, 2023. Donate here.
The Nature Trust of British Columbia is a leading non-profit land conservation organization with over 50 years of success protecting and caring for B.C.’s most critical habitats. Since 1971, The Nature Trust of BC and its partners have acquired more than 73,000 hectares (180,000 acres) of ecologically significant land to save vulnerable wildlife, fish and plants.
The Nature Trust of BC
Alicia Collyear, Account Director