Nature Stewards Program
Join the international initiative to protect 30% of the planet by 2030
You live in a special place!
Thetis is part of an extremely small and sensitive ecological region called the "Coastal Douglas-fir Biogeoclimatic Zone" (CDF).
The CDF is found only on southeast Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and the southwest mainland coast. Over thousands of years a unique mix of trees, plants, and animals have found a niche in this relatively dry, warm, sunny zone. The CDF has the highest diversity of plant species in BC and the highest diversity of overwintering birds in Canada.
Development has heavily impacted the CDF zone and its rich biodiversity. Almost half of the original forested land has been lost to human activity. Of the remaining forest, less than 1% is old growth. Many species and 98% of ecological communities are at risk of extinction. We need to work hard at protecting what's left.
Since only about 4% of Thetis is protected, we can't rely solely on our nature reserves to sustain biodiversity.
It's up to all of us.
With over 90% of the island privately owned, all Thetis Islanders can play an important role in caring for nature. The Nature Stewards Program encourages residents to play an active role in stewarding and regenerating the land and its biodiversity through habitat restoration, rewilding, and preservation.
Ways you can help!
The most important thing you can do on your property to make up for the loss of old growth is to save or create enough space for native trees, plants, and other natural elements and living things to co-exist.
When we all do this, we make an interconnected natural corridor that links wildlife habitat on private land with the island's nature reserves.
That’s thinking like we’re all part of the island’s ecology!
(Mobile view: click on the images below for more information.)
Thinking of developing your property?
Take time to learn more...
About this sensitive island ecology and how you can help on your property and beyond.
See resource list at the bottom of this page!
Learn from traditional knowledge holders.
Invite an Indigenous or other local knowledge holder to walk the land with you and share what they know about past use, medicinal and edible plants, and traditional ways to steward the place where you live so that it is still here and thriving for your children, your grandchildren and their grandchildren.
Make a plan with nature in mind.
Although implementation is always the most exciting part of creating a space, first make a plan that includes the tips you've learned about being a steward of your island property.
Before you start clearing, we ask you to seek out good advice from qualified ecological professionals, arborists and eco-friendly gardeners and builders on how to sensitively remove trees and make other landscaping decisions.
Be the change.
Many of us moved here because we were drawn by community, lifestyle, and the island’s stunning natural beauty. Many residents already preserve nature on their property, but with increasing development, land-use decisions we all make on our private properties will be the crucial difference between a healthy island ecosystem and one that is fragmented and impoverished.
"As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us."
- Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass
A handful of helpful resources to get you started:
Thetis Island CDF Fact Sheet (Islands Trust Conservancy)
A Sensitive Ecosystem Guide for Islands Trust Area Property Owners
Choosing a Building Site on your Lot fact sheet (Islands Trust)
Gardening with Native Plants (Habitat Acquisition Trust)
Green Shores (Stewardship Centre of BC)
Ecosystem Guide: A Hul’q’umi’num’ language guide to plants and animals of southern Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Salish Sea
Develop with Care 2014: Environmental Guidelines for Urban and Rural Land Development in British Columbia (Government of BC)
We are grateful for the traditional knowledge shared by Ken Thomas and Elder Augie Sylvester from the Penelakut First Nation, and work done by Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT), Gabriola Lands and Trails Trust (GaLTT), and Islands Trust Conservancy informing this document. We acknowledge the financial support of the Province of British Columbia, the Stewart Fund at the Vancouver Foundation, and the Government of Canada's Summer Job program.