Healing a Hurt Land

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Haida Gwaii – 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).

Located in the Kumdis Slough area of Haida Gwaii, the region has many outstanding ecological features, including streams, estuaries and old growth forests that form 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.

Beginning this January, the Haida Nation and NCC entered into a partnership to share ownership and management responsibility of the area, known as District Lot 413, while NCC also acquired a neighbouring parcel – District Lot 418 – that features old-growth Sitka spruce and western red-cedar. The two parcels, which together cover 67 hectares (170 acres), were the last lands along the estuary not under some form of protection.

“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.”

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 offer rich habitat for extensive aquatic life due to the rare combination of streams, wetland and proximity to the Kumdis estuary.

“We are honoured to stand with the Haida Nation in finding creative solutions to complex and sensitive land issues,” said NCC President and CEO John Lounds. “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.”

In addition to supporting three species of salmon, these lands provide habitat for threatened and endangered species, including the marbeled murrelet, northern red-legged frog and the Haida Gwaii ermine.

The 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.

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