The Cowichan River is designated as a Canadian Heritage River System because of its significant abundance and variety of fish. Historically, the river supported some of the largest spawning runs of Chinook salmon in the entire Georgia Basin, along with substantial runs of Coho and Chum salmon. The river provides habitat for the Blue-listed Cutthroat Trout as well as Rainbow Trout and Steelhead.
The Cowichan River–Gibbins Road property is in a relatively natural state consisting of primarily young with some mature coniferous forest ranging from 40 to 250 years old, as well as 400 metres of sensitive riparian ecosystems along the Cowichan River. Black Cottonwood, Bigleaf Maple, Western Redcedar, Common Snowberry, Douglas fir, Dull Oregon Grape, and possibly Grand fir all grow on the property.
The shores around Cowichan River abound with biodiversity and contain rare and vulnerable birds and other animals including the provincially Blue-listed Vancouver Island Ermine, Roosevelt Elk, Peregrine Falcon (SARA Schedule 1, special concern), Band-tailed Pigeon (SARA Schedule 1, special concern), Barn Swallow (SARA Schedule 1, threatened), and Yellow-listed Common Nighthawk (SARA Schedule 1, threatened). The Yellow-listed Western Toad (SARA Schedule 1, special concern) has been observed upstream and downstream of the property and have been known to breed along the shores of the Cowichan River.
The Cowichan River corridor is teaming with life. Riparian areas serve critical ecosystem functions and provide many benefits by maintaining water quality. The trees and plants provide important food sources for aquatic insects and sources of large woody debris as shelter for fish. The roots of these plants bind the soil and reduce erosion, while also filtering sediment from entering the water. The vegetation offers shade and wind protection, which helps regulate water temperature and offers essential habitat for insects, amphibians and other wildlife. Many of these species can only live in riparian areas. Other species use riparian areas as migration corridors between habitats.