Species At Risk Program

Facilitating research and collaboration for the recovery of endangered species and ecosystems on the islands we love.

Western Screen Owl looking out of a hollow in an arbutus tree directly at the camera with big yellow eyes.
A macro image of a yellow montane violet showing tiny pair of bright yellow flowers with five petals, with fuzzy green leaves set amongst some grass.
A very small Sharp-tailed snake curls up tightly into a ball amidst leaf litter. Snake is brown in color with a faint red stripe down its side.
A large blonde and brown stellar sea lion sits on top of a dock, arching its back and looking directly at the camera.

There are currently more than 300 species listed as being at risk of extinction in the Islands Trust Area, representing almost 25% of the rare species found in B.C.

British Columbia is the second most biologically diverse province in Canada. The majority of this biodiversity is concentrated within B.C.’s coastal regions, resulting in it being recognized as one of 11 priority places for addressing species at risk conservation in Canada.

There are more than 450 islands within the Islands Trust Area, resulting in a high number of rare and endangered sub-species that are not found anywhere else. This diversity includes a huge number of wildflowers, tiny mosses, lichens, native bees, and bird species in Garry oak meadows, and the towering coastal Douglas-fir forests ecosystems alive with calls from frogs, songbirds, bats, and owls. While these islands are home to incredible biodiversity, they are also where people like to live. This has resulted in increased human pressures and impacts on these species and ecosystems.

Protecting habitat is one of the best ways to prevent species from becoming extinct and aids in the recovery of those species currently at risk. As a land trust, we focus on protecting and restoring land and voluntary conservation actions.

Restoration planting for Garry Oak meadow pollinators and species at risk. A woman kneels on a mossy rock planting tiny seedlings into the moss on a foggy, dew covered morning at the Mt Tuam conservation covenant on Salt Spring island.
Restoration planting for the Garry oak meadow pollinators and species at risk project at Mt Tuam covenant, Salt Spring Island

We aim to build an understanding of the status of species and ecosystems at risk (SEAR) in this region. Funding from Environment and Climate Change – Canada Nature Fund’s Priority Places grants helped launch the Islands Trust Conservancy’s Species at Risk (SAR) Program. This program aims to address knowledge gaps and enhance recovery efforts.

Our focus is on enhancing collaboration to protect, conserve, and restore ecological communities and the species at risk that rely on them. We do this by:

  • Establishing partnerships for more effective actions for SEAR and culturally significant species and ecosystems on islands in the Salish Sea
  • Conducting biological surveys, monitoring and mapping of SEAR
  • Developing educational materials
  • Hosting events and leading outreach initiatives
  • Assisting private landholders and conservation partners in voluntary actions to restore and protect SEAR
  • Working with First Nations and indigenous knowledge holders to identify and manage threatened species and ecosystems of cultural significance

Text reads "This project was undertaken with the financial support of: Environment and Climate Change Canada" with small Canadian flag beside text.


See the 2022 Speaker Series here.

Our 2023 Speaker Series has now concluded.

Program Highlights

Hosting gatherings for SAR professionals

Hosting gatherings for SAR professionals

Hosting a SAR Gathering in March 2022 for more than 60 professionals, researchers, and volunteers working to protect species and ecosystems at risk from extinction in the Salish Sea.

Garry Oak Ecosystem Habitat Enhancement Project for pollinators and SAR

Garry Oak Ecosystem Habitat Enhancement Project

Planting more than 20,000 native plants and 2 million native seeds in 2021 as a part of the Garry Oak Ecosystem Habitat Enhancement Project for pollinators and SAR in the Mt Tuam conservation covenant on Salt Spring island.

  • Acoustic surveys revealed 8 species of bats visiting the restoration site, including the federally threatened Little Brown Myotis bat and vulnerable Townsend’s, Hoary, and Yuma bats.
  • 90 new threatened yellow montane violet plants were found in 2022. These plants provide essential food to the only known population of threatened Zerene Fritillary butterflies in Canada.

Confirming the presence of threatened species

Confirming the presence of threatened species

This work has included tracking threatened plants and insects on Mt Tuam, common Sharp-tailed Snake surveys on five ITC protected properties, and forage fish e-DNA research on beaches.

The Sharp-tailed Snake surveys led to the discovery of two new areas being used by these federally threatened snakes on Salt Spring Island.

Removal of invasive species

Removal of invasive species

Reducing impacts on native plants through the removal of invasive and exotic species on Salt Spring, Bowen, Gambier, Mayne, Thetis, Lasqueti, Denman, Galiano, Sidney, and Gabriola islands. This included over 6,400 lbs. (approx. 3 tonnes) of invasive English holly on Bowen and Gambier islands alone in 2022.

More Information

For more program highlights check out our 2021-22 Impact Report and Annual Report. Program updates are also provided in the Heron Newsletter.

You can also email our Species-At-Risk Program Coordinator.