Into the Depths of Darkwoods
Cultus Creek provides spawning habitat for Kootenay Lake Kokanee and Bull Trout. Photo: Blair Hammond © Canadian Wildlife Service, 2007. Click here to enlarge.
Earlier this year, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, acquired an incredible area of land in British Columbia known as Darkwoods. This acquisition was made possible with support from the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation and Ecological Gift Programs.
What’s so special about a place with such ominous connotations to its name? Turns out, a lot.
Conserving Darkwoods: a home to many
Darkwoods is the largest acquisition ever made under the Government of Canada’s Natural Areas Conservation Program – an important $225 million initiative that works with partners like the Nature Conservancy of Canada to buy and conserve natural areas across southern Canada.
Grizzly bear. Photo: © Corel Corporation, 1994. Click here to enlarge.
Covering approximately 550 square kilometres (or an area nearly 140 times the size of Stanley Park), Darkwoods includes important habitats for a diverse array of wildlife species, including as many as nine species listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. It also includes numerous watersheds, dozens of lakes and a stand of western cedar that is more than 500 years old.
The property is also significant for its role as a corridor connecting a network of conserved lands and wilderness management areas. The overall size of this vast territory stands at more than 1,030 square kilometres. These connections are vital to the keeping this diverse ecosystem healthy.
Indications of our future
Darkwoods' subalpine forest basins provide important caribou habitat. Photo: Blair Hammond © Canadian Wildlife Service, 2007. Click here to enlarge.
Darkwoods is considered vital habitat for a herd of 37 caribou of the threatened Southern Mountain Caribou population, a distinct type of the Woodland Caribou that live in Canada’s boreal forests (and also a species at risk). During the winter months, Mountain Caribou feed mainly on lichen to survive, and because caribou are so particular about the habitats they use, their presence in Darkwoods indicates that these habitats are in good condition.
In addition, the estimated 11-13 grizzly bears that roam Darkwoods represent 13-16 per cent of the southern Selkirk population of this species, so the protection of these lands will help to ensure that this iconic species will continue to persist in the southern Selkirks.
The Ecological Gifts Program: helping make conservation possible
A significant portion of the Darkwoods property was donated through the Government of Canada's Ecological Gifts Program. When combined with the Natural Areas Conservation Program the two programs' effectiveness has been amplified significantly.
Approved recipients of ecological gifts can include all levels of government as well as environmental charities approved by Environment Canada. Under the program, Environment Canada certifies the land as ecologically sensitive, approves the recipient, and certifies the value of the gift.
Preserving today for tomorrow
By acting now to preserve Darkwoods, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, along with Environment Canada, are making the important commitment to ensure the area is conserved today for tomorrow’s generations.
To date, 84 properties have been acquired for protection through the Natural Areas Conservation Program. This includes the most recent acquisition of the Frolek Ranch property in British Columbia, which is home to species at risk like the American Badger and the Burrowing Owl.
- Date Modified: