Off the northwestern tip of Vancouver Island, often shrouded in fog and mist, lie the five Scott Islands — symbols of British Columbia’s rugged natural beauty and astounding biodiversity.

By comparison, the Southern Strait of Georgia, located between Victoria and Vancouver, is less isolated but equally beautiful.

While both these regions showcase B.C.’s stunning natural heritage, they share something else in common: the Scott Islands and the Southern Strait of Georgia are vital habitat for a range of species, many of which are at risk. That’s why Earth Rangers is working closely with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) to better educate and inform Canadians about the critical importance of the Scott Islands and the Southern Strait of Georgia.

Our goal is to ensure that both the Scott Islands and Southern Strait of Georgia are given the appropriate protections in order to preserve habitat and protect the many species that call these areas home. The Scott Islands, for example, are the natural habitat of the tufted puffin, and from May through October 5-10 million other migratory seabirds come to the islands to breed — the highest concentration of breeding seabirds in the Canadian Pacific.

Scott Islands - Credit - Sabine Jessen - Puffins on cliff

The Scott Islands provide important ecological breeding and nesting habitat for 90% of Canada’s tufted puffins. Photo by Sabine Jessen

While the islands themselves benefit from protected status, the surrounding waters do not. Yet migratory birds spend most of their time searching for food in the waters surrounding the islands – and that means these waters are a critical component of the birds’ habitat. Just after his election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau instructed his Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to make marine protection a priority, and committed to protecting 5% of Canada’s oceans by 2017 and 10% by 2020. The the time to act is now.

Adequate protection for the waters surrounding the Scott Islands would go a long way toward ensuring threats from oil pollution, competition for food from commercial fisheries, and the threat of birds being caught in long-line fishery nets is reduced.

Similarly, the creation of a Marine Protected Area for the Southern Strait of Georgia would help protect a variety of species and their habitats, including Canada’s most endangered population of killer whales. The Southern Strait of Georgia is one of Canada’s most threatened environments because of the amount of commercial activity that is conducted in the region. CPAWS indicates “22 species in the region are either federally designated as Endangered, Threatened, Special Concern, or considered high conservation priority by the government of British Columbia.”

The iconic southern resident killer whale population was declared endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act in 2001. Photo by Susanne Davies

You can learn more about these important B.C. coastal regions by joining us on Twitter, following us on Facebook, and continuing to read this blog for regular updates. Spread the word about our efforts by telling your family and friends and encourage them to follow our campaign.

You can also support Earth Rangers’ work with CPAWS and educational programming by making a donation.

Over the coming weeks, our school programs in B.C. and across Canada will explain to children why the Scott Islands and the Southern Strait of Georgia are so important to protect. And we will be writing more and in greater detail on this blog and in social media about the work Earth Rangers and CPAWS is doing to encourage government to better protect these regions.

This is important work and we want you to join us on a journey of discovery and exploration. We hope that by learning more about these vital regions, Canadians will be more inclined to protect them – not just for themselves, but for all the future generations yet to come.

 

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