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Galiano Island conservancy expansion will protect 'red listed' eco-communities

A big swathe of land on the west coast of Galiano Island is going to be protected from loggers and developers, thanks to the efforts of an island-based non-profit group, the Galiano Conservancy Association.

Founded in 1989, the association announced on Feb. 15 it had successfully purchased 76 hectares of land, including over two kilometres of intact shoreline featuring "magnificently sculpted sandstone foreshore" and, inland from the foreshore, an Arbutus/Douglas fir ecological community, a type of environment viewed as imperiled in B.C.

"With this purchase, the Conservancy [as it is locally known] will be able to expand its single-day educational programs to multi-day adventures," said Ken Millard, director of the association. "Many urban children have had little exposure to wild environments and a single day on Galiano excites their love of learning and discovery."

The land purchase has long been the dream of the Conservancy staff and volunteers, and it comes close to completing a proposed wildlife corridor on the island.

Once the expansion made possible by the land purchase is in place, the conservancy will implement plans for multi-day residential retreats that will emphasize hands-on experience for students from urban settings as they learn how to help restore damaged environments.

"These programs will allow students to develop a deeper active connection with the environment," the group's conservation coordinator Keith Erickson told The Tyee by phone from Galiano. "We hope to expand to include multi-day retreats. These working retreats can be transformative for city kids. They are team building experiences that benefit the environment and have long lasting impacts on the students."

Erickson told The Tyee that the additional land purchase was made possible by local donations, support from the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Mountain Equipment Co-op, and a loan from VanCity Credit Union.

"The land purchased has significant biological value," he said. "We hope to be able to start our multi-day nature retreats this season, and we'll know soon if that will be possible, as we are currently doing a detailed assessment of what will be needed logistically."

Erickson emphasized that his group will need to continue active fund raising to help pay off the VanCity loan and meet other needs of the Conservancy and its Restorative Learning Centre.

Tom Sandborn covers labour and health policy beats for the Tyee. He welcomes your feedback and story tips at

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