The islands in the Island Trust Area support a disproportionate number of sensitive ecosystems, which are rich in biodiversity and rare species. The Islands Trust Area's ecosystems are classified within two biogeoclimatic zones: the Coastal Douglas-fir Zone and Coastal Western Hemlock Zone.
Coastal Douglas-fir Zone
The Coastal Douglas-fir Zone covers only 0.25% of British Columbia - one quarter of its B.C. range is located within the Islands Trust Area. The Coastal Douglas-fir Zone has the highest density of species of conservation concern of any of the biogeoclimatic zones in B.C.
It is found within all of the local trust areas (although not within the Bowen Island Municipality). This zone is known for its Douglas-fir trees and its colourful spring flowers. It is home to the iconic Garry oak and arbutus trees, which are found nowhere else in Canada.
Coastal Western Hemlock Zone
Only 0.17% of the Coastal Western Hemlock Zone is found within the Islands Trust Area. This zone is one of Canada's wettest climates and is home to trees of great age and massive proportions as well as wetlands and bogs.
The Coastal Western Hemlock Zone, as a whole, is considered globally secure, however, two of its variants, xm1 and xm2, which are common in the Bowen Island Municipality, the Gambier Island Local Trust Area, and the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Area (at higher elevations) have 29 of their 30 Ecological Communities listed provincially as being of Special Concern, Imperiled or Critically Imperiled.
The Islands Trust Area is nestled within the larger Salish Sea ecosystem. The Trust Area's waters support one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world and are home to an extraordinary diversity of marine life, including 18 provincially listed marine species at risk. Near the shore are diverse species of seagrasses and kelp that provide shelter and food sources to the tiny forage fish who provide a foundation to the marine foodweb.
The Islands Trust Conservancy's Regional Conservation Plan prioritizes and plans for the protection of the best of the islands' natural spaces. Visit their site to see what percentage of land in your local trust area/island municipality is protected and to learn how to help protect the natural wonders of this special region.