Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Pender Islands Conservancy have raised 70 per cent of the $2.1 million required to complete the purchase of the 45-acre KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest, according to organizers — who launched a matching campaign in hopes of reaching their goal before the end of the year.
Every dollar donated between now and Dec. 31 will be matched to gain that last $500,000, according to organizers, in an effort to maintain and protect the threatened Coastal Douglas-fir forest. Pender Islands Conservancy ecology and conservation director Erin O’Brien said these sorts of healthy ecosystems are particularly important in the Southern Gulf Islands, where so much of the Coastal Douglas-fir forests have been fragmented, shorelines damaged, and wetlands lost due to development.
“Land purchasing for permanent protection is an important means to ensure these ecosystems persist on the landscape,” said O’Brien, “and this approach provides local communities with the opportunity to be involved in tangible environmental protection efforts.”
KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest on S,DÁYES (Pender Island) links wetland headwaters to intertidal foreshore across globally rare Coastal Douglas-fir forests. It is home to maturing coastal Douglas-fir, western red cedar and arbutus trees, and connects to Plumper Sound, critical habitat for endangered southern resident killer whales.
Before this land protection campaign was launched, organizers said the forest was slated for development; if those plans had proceeded, they said, it would have been transformed from a refugia to a residential suburb.
“The protection of Kingfisher Forest will secure a diverse network of connected ecosystems that support biodiversity and buffer effects of climate change, in turn enhancing our local community resilience,” said O’Brien.
Many habitats found across the Gulf Islands landscape are classified as critically imperilled due to land conversion and development; protected areas are generally small and isolated, which makes connectivity of habitats difficult to implement. KELÁ_EKE Kingfisher Forest is an essential piece of a nature corridor, and its securement will connect a network of protected places. In a region with less than one per cent of its historic extent of old growth remaining, organizers said it is essential to safeguard the maturing old growth forests of the future.
For more information or to donate, visit the website: www.raincoast.org/forest/