The Nature Trust of BC has the opportunity to purchase 36 acres (15 hectares) of undeveloped land along the Little Qualicum River- our first acquisition on this river. This project presents the opportunity to begin a new conservation complex in one of the most at-risk zones of the province: the Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) biogeoclimatic zone. Only 11% of this zone has been protected within BC and it is considered a conservation concern. The property is located in the traditional territory of the Qualicum First Nation.

The Little Qualicum River is an important salmon spawning river on the mid-east coast of Vancouver Island.  This river support both Indigenous and recreational fisheries. There is a salmon hatchery upstream of the property and the river provides spawning and rearing habitat for Chinook, Coho, Chum and Steelhead. Coastal Cutthroat Trout also use this river.

Salmon are an important species on BC’s coasts. They hatch in the rivers, develop into fry over several months and then swim out to the oceans where they grow to adults. As adults, they eat and gather nutrients from the ocean that they bring with them when they return to their natal rivers to spawn. After spawning they die and all the nutrients that they gathered while in the oceans are returned to the riverine ecosystem, including the forests surrounding the river. This process ensures healthy forests, which stabilize the banks of rivers and provide shade for the next generation of salmon.

Help us Protect the Little Qualicum River

The Nature Trust must raise $415,000 by April 30, 2023 to purchase this property and protect this valuable ecosystem.

Donate

Salmon are an important food source for the hundreds of species of plants and animals that inhabit the forest, from the smallest insects and invertebrates to the largest mammals including bears. The abundance of nutrients contributes to the river being located within an area of continental significance to waterfowl. Both migratory and resident species of concern use this river. Some of the at risk birds seen in the area include the Barn Swallow, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Purple Martin and Surf Scoter.

As the salmon decompose on the banks of the river, insects and animals feast, and in doing so disperse nutrients to the forest and to the larger food chain. At least three blue-listed dragonflies have been seen near the Little Qualicum River: Autumn Meadowhawk, Blue Dasher, and Western Pondhawk. As the insects feed, they are in turn eaten by birds and bats, including the endangered Little Brown Myotis and Northern Myotis, also seen near this river property. Scavengers drag the salmon carcasses into the forest to feed, further dispersing fertilizing nitrogen to rare riparian plants and ecological communities.

Western Pondhawk. Photo: David A. Hofmann

The cycle of salmon has continued for thousands of years and has contributed to the creation of rich forests. This property contains forest and riparian areas that span the centuries. Almost one third of the property contains older forest with scattered veteran trees that have been spared from harvest over centuries.  Mature forest and young forest, up to 250 years old, grow here as well, and need space to thrive.  These trees are hard at work providing many benefits from providing habitat for many species to sequestering carbon.

Help us Protect the Little Qualicum River

The Nature Trust must raise $415,000 by April 30, 2023 to purchase this property and protect this valuable ecosystem.

Donate

However, this property is currently zoned to allow for rural residential development and has merchantable timber values. If it is not purchased for conservation, there is a likelihood that it could be logged and developed. The Nature Trust must raise $415,000 by April 30, 2023 to purchase this property and protect this valuable ecosystem.