Pender forest protection campaign past halfway mark with $1.3 million raised 

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The campaign to protect 45 acres of waterfront forest on North Pender Island has secured $1.3 million. 

The efforts of Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Pender Islands Conservancy have pushed the campaign past the halfway mark, with $2.18 million in total needed to purchase and protect the land. The remaining $795,000 needs to be raised by the end of the year to buy the property just above Razor Point (KELÁ_EKE in SENĆOŦEN), a piece of land which links a freshwater wetland, the upland forest and the shores of Plumber Sound. 

The land, known as KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest on S,DÁYES (Pender Island), is home to “maturing coastal Douglas-fir, western redcedar, and arbutus and connects to Plumper Sound, critical habitat for Southern Resident killer whales” a July 20 news release stated. Over 100 species of birds make their home on the 45 acre property, including Band-tailed pigeons, Western and horned grebes, barn swallows, olive sided-flycatchers, double-crested cormorants and coastal great blue heron, all of which are species of concern. Only 73 whales remain in the endangered Southern Resident killer whale population.   

The majority of the Kingfisher property is forested by “maturing Douglas-fir/Salal and Douglas-fir/Grand fir/Oregon grape ecological communities.” All of the ecological communities, groups of species living in the same place, associated with the coastal Douglas-fir tree are threatened or endangered in B.C. by “ongoing development, limited protection policy and high proportions of private land” with roughly 80 per cent of land held privately. Protected areas are as a consequence “generally small and isolated” that runs contrary to the strategy of connectivity, which aims to protect viable habitat and ecological integrity. 

“The resilience of our communities in the face of climate change and ongoing development pressures depends on intact, healthy and resilient terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems,” Erin O’Brien, Ecology and Conservation Director with the conservancy stated. “Protection of KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest will help to ensure this resilience—both through the ecological diversity that is supported by the land itself, as well as through its connectivity to other protected Coastal Douglas-fir forest habitats in the area.” 

Securing the property is the second joint conservation effort by Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Pender Islands Conservancy Association, who together bought 13 acres of land on the island last year. These actions are part of the foundation’s Forests for the Future initiative, where buying private undeveloped land for ecological protection is combined with restoration efforts, advocacy, ecological investigation and community science initiatives. 

Donations so far have come from individuals and local businesses, local foundations, Sitka Foundation, Islands Trust Conservancy and others.

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