Wildsight has been awarded $19,000 for a project to conserve old growth forest and caribou habitat in the north Columbia mountains.
The money came from the BC Conservation and Biodiversity Awards (BCCBA), a donor advised fund at Canada Gives, and was announced on May 17.
Thirteen charities and non-profit organizations were awarded a total of over $200,000 for work “contributing to the improvement of the natural environment of BC and the preservation of its wilderness and biodiversity,” reads a press release from BCCBA.
Eddie Petryshen, conservation specialist with Wildsight based in Kimberley, said they were grateful for the funding.
“The project that we’re embarking on is identifying, assessing, and advocating for the protection of endangered old growth forest in the inland temperate rainforest in the north Columbia mountains,” he said.
The field work is set to begin around June 14.
According to Petryshen, not a lot of ground assessment has been done in the inland temperate rainforest, and often those who visit the region are doing so for logging purposes.
“You have these 500, 600, 800 year old trees coming out of these valleys loaded on logging trucks,” he said.
“Often, we don’t know what we’re losing.”
He said the rainforest is a ‘remarkable place’, and pointed to its rarity on a global-scale.
“It’s a really important place for caribou and old growth as well. Some of the oldest trees in the province there.”
The project will involve field assessing some high priority forests based on things like ancient forest characteristics, structure, lichen diversity and caribou.
“This is kind of the last stronghold for mountain caribou in the Columbia region, or in the Kootenay region.”
Petryshen spoke to the importance of the region for conservation.
“The inland temperate rainforest is a place of immense biodiversity, and the carbon importance of this ecosystem is something that I think few people realize,” he said.
“Research is suggesting the (inland temperate rainforest) is perhaps the most lichen-rich resource in the world, and also has the highest density of overlapping carbon and freshwater provision in B.C.”
Speaking to the project’s goal, he said: “Long term, it’s certainly conservation. And understanding the importance of these places and taking steps to protect them for future generations.”
Applications for the 2023 BCCBA are being accepted until Dec. 31, 2022. More information can be found at bccbawards.ca.