Getting to know your shoreline

Ten years ago, aerial photos were used to identify important habitat along the complex contours that make of the shoreline of the region.  The work was originally undertaken by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the local Port Authority to inform development options in the region. Ten years later, a habitat biologist at the local Fisheries & Oceans office asked us if we were interested in helping to update this information by walking the shore and “ground-truthing” the original information, we were glad to take them up on it.
You don’t have to be an avid naturalist to appreciate the complexity and richness of the shoreline – patches of kelp forest, eelgrass beds, sandy and muddy bays, stretches of steep rocky shoreline, tidal pools teeming with tiny sealife, myriad algaes, salt marshes and creeks trickling out from the hemlock and cedar forests – all this and more make up the Northern BC coastal ecosystem.
We are being helped out by Cei Sullivan, a student in an Applied Coastal Ecology program at the local college and a WWF volunteer.  Getting out in the field is an opportunity to put to use her skills in GPS and data recording, while contributing to a local project.  True, there was that one day when an encounter with a bear cut the day short, and even an encounter with some coastal wolves (!!) but that just adds to the experience.
The data that we are collecting will be used by local authorities to inform decision-making at the local scale, and will also be added to the Community Mapping Network – a free, on-line and publicly accessible database containing loads of information about different habitat types throughout British Columbia.  Data is collected and compiled through a variety of projects and initiatives, relying largely on volunteers and community groups.  The information can be accessed by local planners, development proponents, property developers, educators, or community groups.
For this kind of work to successfully contribute to conservation, depends upon the ability of decision-makers to access information and put it to use… and their willingness to do so!  WWF-Canada works at the policy and management level, in addition to the on-the-ground level, to advocate for an ecosystem-based approach to management, in which both human use and ecological values are considered.  The region around Kaien Island is a microcosm of the North Coast of BC:  source of both ecological wealth and economic prosperity, and subject to the cumulative effects of human activities.  By doing this work, we are helping to create a future where decision-making respects the values of the region and the people who depend on it.
Looking for an opportunity to get to know your shoreline?  Great!  The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is just around the corner and it engages thousands of Canadians annually to rehabilitate their local shorelines through the removal of shoreline litter. Find out more information about how you can get involved, at