Healing a Hurt Land
The Haida Nation and Nature Conservancy of Canada partner to protect culturally and ecologically significant lands on the Kumdis Estuary
A piece of heavily logged land near Gamadiis Port Clements, Haida Gwaii, will now be restored thanks to a new partnership between the Haida Nation and the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC).
District Lot 413 is located in the Kumdis Slough area of Haida Gwaii, where many outstanding ecological features, including streams, estuaries and old growth forests, are part of a network of protected areas. The lot was logged in 2010, causing significant damage to salmon habitat, old-growth forest and cultural values. As restitution for this environmentally destructive logging, the BC Provincial court approved an option to transfer the land for conservation purposes.
NCC and the Haida Nation have entered into a partnership to share ownership and management responsibility of District Lot 413. The lot was transferred jointly to NCC and the Haida Nation on January 26.
NCC also acquired a neighbouring parcel — District Lot 418 — which reaches into Kumdis Slough and is forested in old-growth Sitka spruce and western red cedar. The two parcels span 63 hectares (156 acres) and were the last lands along the estuary not under some form of protection.
The Haida Nation and NCC will co-manage the lands for both ecological and cultural values, and hold the land in trust for future generations. Extensive restoration is being planned with Haida Fisheries and Fisheries and Oceans Canada to rehabilitate the lands, which were recognized as a “fish factory” by a biologist due to the rare combination of streams, wetland and proximity to the Kumdis estuary.
In addition to supporting three species of salmon, these lands provide habitat for at least three species listed on Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act: marbeled murrelet (threatened), northern red-legged frog (endangered) and the Haida Gwaii ermine (threatened).
This conservation project was made possible through the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program. Generous funding contributions were made by the Sitka Foundation, the Karen and Fred Green Fund (via the Vancouver Foundation), Anthony Paine and Susan Collacott, MGSP Yacht, and Geoff and Karen Cowper. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act) also provided funding.
“We are honoured to stand with the Haida Nation in finding creative solutions to complex and sensitive land issues,” said John Lounds, President and CEO, Nature Conservancy of Canada. “Our collective efforts to protect and restore these lands on the Kumdis Estuary come from a recognition that nature and culture are inextricably linked. This project represents an important contribution to global goals for conservation, and recognizes that damage to our natural lands is an unacceptable loss for a community, a culture and local ecology.”
“Given the cultural and ecological heritage that was lost by logging Kumdis, the prospect of restoring the area lets us imagine what it will become, once again,” said kil tlaats ‘gaa Peter Lantin, President of the Haida Nation. “Our partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada is a good way to protect and restore this very important area and in many ways, is the beginning of a process to look at other areas that have been damaged as a result of the industrial-based boom and bust economy.”
“We are very proud to support the Nature Conservancy of Canada in their partnership with the Haida Nation to conserve and restore this important estuary habitat. Through the Natural Areas Conservation Program our government works with partners to protect biodiversity and conserve our wild spaces for the health of our environment.” ~The Hon. Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
- The network of conservation lands on the Kumdis estuary includes the Kamdis Heritage Site/Conservancy (jointly managed by the Haida Nation and the Province of BC), NCC’s Kumdis River Conservation Area, conservation lands owned by The Nature Trust of BC and Ducks Unlimited Canada, and a proposed provincial Wildlife Management Area.
- The intertidal wetland areas of the Kumdis Estuary supports waterfowl, shorebirds and salmon, and extensive eelgrass beds.
- Despite the heavy logging on DL 413, the land retains very high ecological value for its fish habitat, estuaries, wetlands and hydroriparian communities.
- The salmon found in the Kumdis River and estuary represent a unique genetic repository that may be useful in replenishing stock in other river systems on Haida Gwaii that are in decline.
- No compensation was received by the landowner for the transfer of the land.
The Council of the Haida Nation is the elected body of the Haida Nation. It governs the activities of the Nation and represents its citizens to other governments — nationally and internationally. The Haida Nation’s territory encompasses all of Haida Gwaii and its territorial seas.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is Canada's leading not-for-profit private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC has helped to protect more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres), coast to coast, including almost 400,000 hectares (1 million acres) in British Columbia.
The Government of Canada's Natural Areas Conservation Program (NACP) is a unique public-private partnership managed and directed by the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). Federal funds are matched by contributions raised by NCC and its partners. Habitat conserved under the NACP enhances natural corridors and other protected areas.
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