Every response to a large-scale disaster presents a window of opportunity to create profound change. What are the opportunities for Islands Trust? Our community has a renewed appetite for planning the community – they want a community and an economy that can be resilient to shocks, like pandemics or storms.
Decades of poor resource management are manifesting themselves in declining fish populations, fragmentation of forest ecosystems, and loss of species diversity and habitat. There are growing frustrations with land use planning and regulatory systems – not just ours but throughout the various levels of government.
I believe it is time to clearly embrace the other powerful words in the Trust’s objective – “in cooperation with.” We need to work with residents, other partners and First Nations to protect our ecosystems, and to sustain this generation and those of the future. We have to help our island communities become more resilient in the times that lie ahead.
In a University of Waterloo paper from 1999 titled “Limping Towards Sustainability”, the Islands Trust was found to have all the ingredients for local ecological governance. However, we are no longer the lone Canadian example – BC’s Great Bear Rain Forest has embedded ecosystem-based management into regulation.
Trust Council held its inaugural electronic meeting this week. After 11 hours of Zoom meetings, I am proud to report that the highlight of the meeting was the presentation by a delegation from Salt Spring, the Ecological Research Network. This is a group of island-based researchers comprising the technical working group of the Climate Action Plan and island researchers with support from Dr. Tara Martin’s research team in the Department of Forests and Conservation Sciences at UBC. This network offered to help the Islands Trust by providing timely and defensible knowledge to inform Ecosystem Based Management.
Our island ecosystems are at risk from a number of impacts, including land use change, climate change, loss of understory, fire ecology and invasive species. Dr. Gary Bull, UBC Forestry, recently said “Research and policy normally has a ten-year lag. We can’t afford that lag anymore.” Teaming with the Ecosystem Research Network will support the Islands Trust in developing timely ecosystem-based policy and regulation. (If you are wondering what is meant by ecosystem-based management, in general terms it is a management approach that recognizes all interactions within and among ecosystems, including human interactions, instead of an approach that focuses on a single species or on an ecosystem in isolation of others – Healthy People, Healthy Society, Healthy Environment.