Gullchucks Estuary, BC

Gullchucks Estuary, BC

Old-growth and estuaries: Nature Conservancy of Canada conserves prime habitat on BC's central coast

September 15, 2016
Vancouver, BC


The Nature Conservancy of Canada has announced the conservation of four parcels of private land on BC's Central Coast, in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest.

These projects conserve a total of 458 acres (185 hectares) of waterfront lands on the central coast. Three of the parcels include estuaries, which play a key ecological role as nursery grounds for young salmon, feeding sites for eagles, bears, sea lions and other marine mammals, and refuge for countless marine species.

Participating in a media conference today were John Lounds, President and CEO, Nature Conservancy of Canada; Member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson; a representative from TD Bank; and NCC supporters.

All of the new conservation lands protect old-growth coastal temperate rainforest. Stands of western red cedar and sitka spruce tower above an understory of salal, devil's club and salmonberry.
These forests are home to rare and important wildlife, many of which are federally-endangered or threatened, including marbled murrelet, northern goshawk, coho and chinook salmon. This area also supports some of the densest populations of grizzly and black bear in the province, and is home to the famous white Kermode or spirit bear.

Three of the parcels were generously donated to the Nature Conservancy of Canada by the landowner, Tony Allard, with the support of his family.

These conservation projects were made possible with funding support from the Government of Canada through the Natural Areas Conservation Program, and from TD Bank Group through TD Forests.

About the new conservation lands

The Gullchucks Estuary brings together large stands of old-growth coastal temperate rainforest, a wild salmon-bearing river, and a floodplain and estuary that provide a home for hundreds of coastal species. Located on the north coast of Denny Island, the estuary has remained ecologically intact for millennia. This ecosystem is rich in biodiversity and of cultural significance to the Heiltsuk First Nation.

Geldala and Kiidiis sit on opposite shores of Rivers Inlet and share similar ecological attributes: old-growth coastal temperate rainforest fed by stream systems that empty into estuaries. This important area supports wide-ranging carnivores and other mammals, migratory and breeding waterbirds, amphibians and anadromous fish. All five Pacific salmon species use the waters surrounding these lands. These two sites build on the Nature Conservancy of Canada's existing conservation lands in Rivers Inlet known as the Wanukv Conservation Area. Here, NCC works in partnership with the Wuikinuxv First Nation, whose village is situated at the head of the inlet. 

Spider Island is located within the Hakai Lúxvbálís Conservancy (BC Parks) and falls within Heiltsuk Nation traditional territory. NCC has now protected the only private parcel of land on Spider Island, securing the protected status of the entire island. Old-growth temperate rainforest surrounds a 17-acre (7-hectare) lake on this parcel. 


“The Nature Conservancy of Canada is proud to play a part in building a legacy of conservation in the Great Bear Rainforest,” said Linda Hannah, BC regional vice president for the Nature Conservancy of Canada. “Ten years ago our conservation science work helped to identify the immense ecological value of BC's central coast, and today we are celebrating real on-the-ground action in protecting that value. The natural value of these lands is truly impressive: massive old-growth cedars, bears, wolves, eagles and salmon are known to use all of these parcels.”

“I was motivated to see that the Rivers Inlet properties never had fishing lodges built on them because not every operator necessarily has the best long-term interest of the resource in mind and they are inside a Special Management (Fisheries) Zone,” said Tony Allard, land donor of the Geldala, Kiidiis and Spider Island properties. “Spider Island is such a special property – remote out there on the edge of the world – and the Heiltsuk deserved to know it would not be developed. 'Forever' is a big idea and in the case of these three properties it is very satisfying to know that they will always remain as they are now. Thank you for protecting them.”

"I want to thank the many donors who helped make this important conservation initiative possible,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, MP for North Vancouver and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “The Government of Canada is proud to support their efforts through the Natural Areas Conservation Program. Working together, we will protect the diverse species, especially those at risk, and their habitat in the Great Bear Rainforest.”

“More than 90 percent of Canadians have said forests are important to them, and for good reason,” says Karen Clarke-Whistler, Chief Environment Officer, TD Bank Group. “Forests form the backdrop of our communities, where we live, work and play—and they perform an essential role in cleaning the air and moderating temperatures. As our world becomes more urbanized it is essential to protect forests and the valuable habitats they represent. That's why we made protecting critical forest habitat a key pillar of the TD Forests program.


The Nature Conservancy of Canada is Canada's leading not-for-profit private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the plants and animals they sustain. Since 1962, NCC has helped to protect 2.8 million acres (more than 1.1 million hectares) across the country, including almost 1 million acres (400,000 hectares) 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). To date, $345 million has been invested in the NACP by the Government of Canada to secure our natural heritage. Additionally, more than $500 million in matching contributions has been raised by NCC and its partners.

Launched in 2012, TD Forests is a major conservation initiative built around two pillars—reduce (paper use) and grow (forested areas). The Nature Conservancy of Canada has been engaged in the “grow” pillar to increase the amount of forested lands protected and cared for in Canada and through its conservation partners in the U.S. TD and NCC are also engaging more Canadians in the mission to conserve our forests, which will safeguard not just the trees, but all the living things that rely on forested habitats. For more information, visit TD Forests.

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Media Contact:

Lesley Marian Neilson
Communications Manager
British Columbia Region

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