News & Events

Caring for Nature

The Nex̱wlélex̱wm/Bowen Biodiversity Conservation Initiative

Bowen Island, Nex̱wlélex̱wm to the Squamish Nation, is nestled in the heart of the UNESCO Átl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound Biosphere. This island is not just a place we call home; it’s a living, breathing testament to the beauty, strength and fragility of nature. Our collective connection to the environment forms the very essence of our community. It’s this bond that urges us to protect the rich biodiversity that thrives here—a mission that’s become more crucial than ever.

In the face of increasing threats such as habitat loss, climate change, and invasive species, our island’s natural treasures stand at a crossroads. Are we, as a community, up to the challenge of seeking a way forward that can address these growing pressures? Will we be bystanders in the unfolding story of our island? Or instead, its guardians and its voice?

This is where the Caring for Nature: The Nex̱wlélex̱wm/Bowen Biodiversity Conservation Initiative sees opportunity. Spearheaded by the Bowen Island Conservancy, this inititiative is a long-term commitment to biodiversity conservation planning, actions and monitoring – in short, call to action for residents, businesses, organizations, and governments on the island.

The Conservancy has assembled an outstanding team including professionals with environmental, conservation biology, communications, research, nature interpretation, planning and geographic information systems backgrounds, as well as two Bowen Island municipal councilors. All our volunteers proudly call Bowen Island home.

Our initiative is unique—it marries rigorous scientific methods with the wealth of local knowledge and passion that Bowen Islanders possess. This comprehensive approach will allow us to not only identify key conservatio options and opportunities but also to understand the constraints we face and explore viable solutions.

The resulting biodiversity conservation plan can serve as a critical tool for residents, developers, the municipality, businesses, and community organizations, enabling informed decision-making that prioritizes our natural heritage. This can be biodiversity planning done right; driven by the community for the community.

Over the coming months, you’ll hear more about our efforts. From enlightening articles to engaging events and even a Biodiversity Photography Contest. We’re making sure everyone has a chance to be involved and informed.

This fall, the initiative will take a significant stride forward with an open house and the first in a series of public engagement workshops. These gatherings will be your opportunity to share your insights, learn about our scientific findings, and have a direct impact on the conservation decisions that can shape the future of Bowen Island.

Imagine a future where Bowen Island remains a beacon of environmental resilience, cultural richness, and sustainable living. By joining hands in this vital cause, we can work to ensure that our island not only survives but thrives for generations to come. This is our chance to stand together, to celebrate, and safeguard our natural heritage…and to Care for Nature.

News & Events

Biodiversity and Bowen

Bowen Island Undercurrent
(May 17, 2024)

The Conservancy will soon launch a new initiative focused on Bowen’s biodiversity, Caring for Nature: The Nex̱wlélex̱wm / Bowen Biodiversity Conservation Initiative. Watch for information in the next few weeks.

Nex̱wlélex̱wm / Bowen Island is not just a place; it’s a living, breathing tapestry of Nature’s finest displays, from lush rainforests and dry coastal bluffs to streams and wetlands and vibrant marine life. Those of us who call it home share a unique bond with the island’s Nature, a connection that goes beyond simple geography to touch the very essence of who we are.

So, we might ask, how is Nature doing on Bowen Island? When assessing the health of Nature in any place, whether Bowen Island or Borneo or our entire planet, scientists consider its biodiversity—short for biological diversity— as an important measure of Nature’s health and resilience. Biodiversity is the rich variety of life on Earth—and it shapes every corner of Bowen Island, from the whispering trees of Crippen Regional Park to the rugged shores of the Wild Coast Nature Refuge. It’s the mosaic of plants, animals, fungi, and microorganisms, along with their genetic diversity and the complex ecosystems they form.

Photo courtesy of Sheree Johnson

Nex̱wlélex̱wm / Bowen Island is a mosaic of different ecological habitats – mature forests, dry coastal bluffs, wetlands, lakes and streams, and intertidal shores. Each such habitat has its own mix of life; the more diverse the life is in each habitat,
the more likely its ecological function can remain healthy in the face of the climate extremes that are coming. Each species, no ma[er how small, has an important role to play and helps maintain the balance of the ecosystem. The decay of fallen trees, for instance, nourishes the soil, promoting lush plant growth which in turn supports a wider range of animal species.

The forests and marine plants of Bowen are more than just habitats; they are guardians of the climate, absorbing carbon dioxide and helping stabilize our climate. This natural process of carbon sequestration is vital in our fight against climate change, making the island not just a refuge for wildlife, but a player in global environmental health.

The value of Bowen Island’s diverse Nature extends beyond ecology. It is also the backbone of our local economy. Friends, family, and tourists visit the island, drawn by its natural beauty, hiking trails, and wildlife. Their spending supports local businesses and artisans, who find inspiration in the island’s landscapes to create unique, beautiful crafts that reflect the spirit of Bowen.

Conservation efforts such as controlling invasive species and protecting wildlife habitats not only enhance the local biodiversity but also serve as a living classroom for both residents and visitors. Local schools and programs leverage these conservation efforts to teach young people about environmental stewardship, instilling a sense of responsibility and reverence for nature that can last a lifetime.

As Bowen Island grows, the challenge remains to harmonize human activity with the preservation of its unique natural landscapes. Biodiversity is not merely an indicator of ecological health but a blueprint for sustainable living. By cherishing and protecting our local biodiversity, we enhance our own quality of life and ensure that future generations can also enjoy the natural wonders of Bowen Island. This isn’t just conservation; it’s a commitment to life itself and our Bowen home.

Photo courtesy of Will Husby
News & Events

A moratorium on the commercial herring fishery

Our letter to DFO

We wrote, once again, to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, asking for a moratium on the commercial herring fishery in the Strait of Georgia.

Read our letter (PDF).

News & Events

Donations to help us protect the Cape lands

Help us protect Cape Roger Curtis

We are working to preserve and protect the remaining undeveloped lands at Cape Roger Curtis.

We have made two proposals to Metro Vancouver and are hoping for a positive outcome for Bowen Island.

We are very grateful for the support we have been receiving so far. You can help us in our initiative by making a financial contribution to the Conservancy.

Please e-transfer your donation to:


Your donation will be automatically deposited in an account designated solely for use on the Cape initiative, and we’ll send you a tax receipt for any amount of $20 or more.

How will donations be used?

We do not know what the outcome of submitting our proposals to Metro Vancouver will be. We may end up in a collaborative partnership, or we may be able to acquire the undeveloped lands outright. We believe it is unlikely that both of our proposals will be rejected, and so we expect to face various fees (for legal, tax, and other assistance). In the event, however, that we are not successful, your donation will be used for our activities at the Wild Coast Nature Refuge.

News & Events

Our proposals to Metro Vancouver

September 12, 2023

Via Mail and Email

Metro Vancouver
Metrotower III
4515 Central Boulevard
Burnaby, BC V5H 0C6

Attention: Ravi Chhina, Deputy CAO, Operations

Dear Mr. Chhina:

Re: Bowen Island Conservancy – Metro Vancouver Regional Park on Bowen Island

This letter is further to our discussions respecting the planned Metro Vancouver Regional Park on Bowen Island (the “Park”), and the proposal made by the Bowen Island Conservancy in May of this year to compensate Metro Vancouver in the amount of $20 million in return for measures to protect our Wild Coast Nature Refuge and generally enhance conservation in the area.

The Conservancy is extremely concerned that the development of the Park, as currently proposed, will result in serious negative impacts to our Wild Coast Nature Refuge adjacent to the Park, and conservancy values in the area generally. Consequently, we sought and obtained commitments from donors to make the $20 million payment to Metro Vancouver to obtain protection of our interests.

Following our meeting in May, you advised by telephone that, while our $20 million offer was of interest, you wished us to consider a higher amount with modification of our proposal. Although we are not in a position to offer more than $20 million in relation to our original proposal, we believe that circumstances are such that it is worth reiterating that proposal, and seeking your consideration.

Further, given Metro Vancouver’s apparent lack of interest in our $20 million proposal, we have worked on raising funds to purchase the entire Park property.

Details of our May proposal for protective measures, and our alternative proposal to purchase the entire property, are set out below.

We also note concerns expressed by the Bowen Island Municipality and the Islands Trust, and the overwhelming public opposition to the Park as currently proposed, in particular with respect to camping. We remain concerned about potential impacts on the Wild Coast Nature Refuge and conservation in the adjacent area.

May Proposal – Protective Measures

The details and rationale of our proposal to pay Metro Vancouver $20 million in return for conservation measures in the vicinity of the Wild Coast Nature Refuge may be summarized:

  • We pay Metro Vancouver $20 million;
  • Metro Vancouver to transfer title to Lot 23, adjacent to the Wild Coast Nature Refuge, to the Conservancy. Lot 23 is a logical extension of the Wild Coast Nature Refuge, its coastal bluff ecosystem and topography.
  • A setback, confirmed by a no-development covenant, to be placed on the lots directly across the road from the Wild Coast Nature Refuge, as a buffer to minimize potential impact.
  • A no-development covenant to be placed on the coastal Bluffs in the Park to the east of the refuge, to ensure continuity of the intact coastal bluff ecosystem, consistent with the objectives of the Conservancy to protect unique areas, and falling within the mandate of Metro Vancouver Parks to promote conservation.
  • A protective covenant to be placed on the Huszar creek riparian zone to protect ecological values.
  • There will be no camping in the Park.

All of these matters to be confirmed by binding legal agreement.

We believe this proposal is a win-win for Metro and the Conservancy.

This proposal is of clear benefit to the Conservancy, both enhancing and protecting the Wild Coast Nature Refuge, as well as enhancing conservation in the area generally.

The proposal is also of significant benefit to Metro Vancouver, obtaining $20 million, with little impact on the overall market value of the Park land, restrictions fully within the Metro Parks mandate to promote conservation, and greater consistency regarding Bowen Island community values.

Alternative Proposal – Purchase of Entire Property

Given Metro’s apparent lack of interest in our May proposal, we have made efforts to raise funds for the purpose of purchasing the entire area. We are now in a position to offer the sum of $30 million for the entire property, subject to the Conservancy obtaining formal confirmation of donations which have been pledged. We anticipate that these funds can be confirmed and our formal offer presented by November of this year.

If Metro Vancouver is prepared to consider either of these proposals further, we are prepared to meet to discuss details at your convenience.

We look forward to your reply.

Yours truly,

Bowen Island Conservancy

Owen Plowman

cc: George V. Harvie, Board Chair, Metro Vancouver (
John McEwan, Board Vice Chair and Regional Parks Committee Chair, Metro Vancouver
Rebecca Bligh, Regional Parks Committee Vice Chair, Metro Vancouver (
Andrew Leonard, Mayor, Bowen Island Municipality (

News & Events

Thanks to the Garden Club for their generous donation

Funding for the Wild Coast Nature Refuge

We are delighted to have received a donation of $6,000 from the Bowen Island Garden Club, to assist us with ongoing projects at the Wild Coast Nature Refuge.

Left to right: Owen Plowman and Paul Hay (Conservancy), Laura McGregor and Betty Morton (Garden Club)

Earlier this year the Garden Club decided to hold a special evening event, which they named “Art in the Garden“. Held in late July at the home of Doug Elliott and Owen Plowman (Owen is President of the Conservancy), the evening brought together Bowen Island artists, who exhibited their works in the garden, and island residents and visitors, who were able to wander in the garden, view the art, and purchase individual pieces.

As well, attendees were able to sample a special set of wines curated by our local expert, Paul Rickett.

The Garden Club decided to support the Conservancy by donating profits from the event for use at the Wild Coast Nature Refuge. We are very grateful for their wonderful gesture and their support.

News & Events

Discovering Kwilákm: a website guide

What’s beneath the surface of the Bay?

For thousands of years, the Squamish people harvested shellfish in the estuary where Bowen’s Terminal Creek drains into the sea. They called this place Kwilákm: Clam Bay. We know it as Deep Bay, and also as Mannion Bay.

Kwilákm is both a centre of human history on Bowen Island, and a place highly valued by many wild species. Fish, eelgrass, water birds, migrating shorebirds, and the small creatures they pursue all call Kwilákm home.

The Discovering Kwilákm website

Following the publication of Exploring Bowen’s Marine World: A Marine Atlas of Nex̱wlélex̱wem/Bowen Island in 2020, the Bowen Island Conservancy has created the Discovering Kwilákm website.

On Sunday, March 26, from 3:00-5:00 pm, we held an Open House at the Library Annex, so that people could come and explore the whole watershed with us, from the high ground to the deep waters: who lives where; how natural systems work; and ways in which the natural world may be affected by climate change.

We had videos exploring the entire waterway and lagoon, Will Husby brought his microscope so that people could watch living marine creatures close up, and we gave everyone a tour of the Discovering Kwilákm website. As well, the Bowen Nature Club hosted an optional walk to the Causeway and Sandy Beach.

Photos from the event (courtesy Len Gilday)

News & Events

Thanks to the Knick Knack Nook for their donation

Today we were delighted to receive a generous donation of $1,266 from the Knick Knack Nook!

They very kindly donated the proceeds of this year’s auction to the Conservancy. We are very grateful for this donation from a local organization that does so much for the community, and we thank all the volunteers who worked to make the auction a success.

We will use the proceeds to fund our operations and to continue our work of preserving and protecting this special place.

News & Events

Letter to Metro Vancouver concerning the new regional park

11 October 2022

David Sheffield
Park System Planner, Regional Parks
Parks & Environment
Metro Vancouver
4515 Central Blvd.
Burnaby, BC  V5H 0C6

Dear David:

Metro Vancouver proposal for a new regional park on Bowen Island

Thank you for contacting me, and for making time for a preliminary discussion about the proposed regional park on the undeveloped Cape Roger Curtis lands, here on Bowen Island. 

I mentioned during our first phone call that, in principle, the Bowen Island Conservancy supports the acquisition of the currently undeveloped lots for the establishment of a regional park, with a focus on land conservation and preservation of the natural environment in as undisturbed a state as possible. Consequently, we wish to work with your organization in a collaborative manner, as your plans for the proposed park are formulated and assembled into a comprehensive management plan. Given our deep historical knowledge of the lands in question, our role in managing the Fairy Fen Nature Reserve (which is in a Crown Land block adjacent to the lands), and our roots on Bowen Island and in the local community, we are able to provide background expertise on the local ecosystem, as well as insights and experience related to Cape Roger Curtis and Bowen Island as a whole, and experience that will prove valuable as the proposed park is created.

At the same time, given the proximity of the proposed park to the Wild Coast Nature Refuge (the “WCNR”, owned and managed by the Conservancy), and the likelihood of substantial increased public visitation to the area, I need to outline several concerns that have been raised by our volunteers and Directors. As well, on behalf of the Conservancy Board, I have a proposal for your consideration, concerning Lot 23, which is immediately adjacent to the east of the WCNR.

Concern #1: Impact on the Wild Coast Nature Refuge

The Conservancy acquired the three lots that comprise the WCNR late in 2020, and formally opened the area to the public in May of this year. Our goal for the WCNR is aligned with our mandate: to preserve and protect the natural environment. Our primary objective is to leave the area alone: to minimize any sort of disturbance, and to allow nature to thrive free from human and other impact. The WCNR is home to several rare species of flora and fauna, and, in particular, the coastal bluffs are covered with a rich variety of lichens and mosses. Our secondary objective is to allow human visitation that has as low an impact on the area as possible: for example, we have used the driveway corridors (established by the original developers) as trails, carefully placed signage to deter visitors from walking around on the bluffs, and have put in place a “no dogs” policy to mitigate the effects of canine disturbance. 

The proposed regional park will border the Nature Refuge on the north and east sides. Visitors to the park will, of course, have access to the WCNR, and we are concerned about the impact of increased visitor traffic in the Refuge. We are particularly worried about the possibility of people visiting the park bringing invasive species into the WCNR, being accompanied by their dogs, and walking on the bluffs, trampling the plants that grow there. We welcome ideas from your organization about ways to mitigate this kind of increased human visitation.

We are also concerned about preserving the existing conservation and wildlife corridors that connect to the WCNR from the rest of the Cape Roger Curtis lands, which will be part of the proposed park. We want to be certain that, as you move forward, the entire area that constitutes the non-residential part of the Cape is considered holistically, to minimize disruption or other negative impacts on these corridors.

Concern #2: Impact of camping

We understand that the proposed park will incorporate camping facilities, and are, therefore, concerned about:

  1. Water: seeps in the WCNR are highly dependent on the flow of groundwater; these seeps are seasonal and are so sensitive that they are in an area of the Refuge where public access is prohibited. We are concerned about how much water on the upland portion of the Cape lands will be made available to campers, and how this will affect the availability of water in the WCNR, and elsewhere in the proposed park. Both of our organizations need to collaborate on this issue to mitigate negative impacts in the entire area.
  2. Sanitation: increased human activity, particularly camping, means that toilets, washing facilities, and garbage must be taken into consideration. How will this be addressed by Metro Vancouver to ensure that impact on the lands are minimized: that there are no effluent leaks, grey water will be dealt with properly, and garbage will not become an ongoing problem? 
  3. Fire: a major concern is the possibility of fire breaking out and spreading to other parts of the island. We’d like to understand your organization’s position on camp fires, and how any policies concerning them that are put in place will be monitored and enforced. People particularly enjoy camp fires in the evenings, and so the potential of a forest fire spreading to other parts of Bowen Island into the night is particularly acute. The Conservancy would like a complete ban on open fires at Cape Roger Curtis, with enforcement by Metro Vancouver staff.
  4. Traffic management: opposition to the proposed park is already mounting from residents of Adams Road and Whitesails Drive, because of the potential for increased vehicle traffic. This is leading some to propose that an alternative access to the Cape be constructed from Thompson Road. The Conservancy opposes this access route, since it will impact the Fairy Fen Nature Reserve. We hope that another alternative access route will be considered by Metro Vancouver. We also prefer that vehicle camping not be allowed: we do not wish to see an increase in traffic, or the construction of multiple parking spaces anywhere on the Cape lands.
  5. Damage to the coastal bluff ecosystem: any camping on the shoreline of the Cape lands will inevitably result in damage to the sensitive coastal bluff ecosystem from human foot traffic. Experience in other parks and areas with similar coastal bluffs shows that, over time, the plant species are damaged beyond repair and that eventually all that is bare rock. We do not want to see this happen at Cape Roger Curtis.

Our proposal concerning Lot 23

We have the following proposal for consideration as the proposed park is created: make Lot 23 a part of the WCNR, and align the objectives for the lot, and its management, with the WCNR.

Lot 23 is immediately adjacent to the east side of the WCNR and is bordered on its eastern boundary by Huszar Creek. The Conservancy attempted to acquire lot 23 in 2021, for incorporation into the WCNR, but was not successful. The lot is home to an eagle’s nest, and a ravine/riparian ecosystem carrying Huszar Creek. 

Making Lot 23 part of the WCNR would:

  1. Eliminate camping, and minimize human disturbance, around the eagle’s nest;
  2. Minimize the impact of dogs on the eagle’s nest, the lot as a whole, and, in particular, the riparian zone around Huszar Creek;
  3. Incorporate the lower portion of Huszar Creek into the WCNR and enable the riparian zone to thrive undisturbed;
  4. Ensure that specific findings resulting from an ecological assessment that relate to the flora and fauna within Lot 23 are addressed and managed as part of the overall WCNR Management Plan;
  5. Increase the WCNR area, thereby leaving more of the Cape Lands in a state as close to undisturbed as possible;
  6. Represent and require a high degree of collaboration between Metro Vancouver and a well-regarded Bowen Island organization, which, I believe, would be viewed favourably by our local community.


We know that Metro Vancouver has a successful track record of establishing well-regarded parks throughout the region, and that your organization will address the concerns listed above in a thoughtful and appropriate way. And, we hope that you will consider carefully our proposal concerning Lot 23: our team of experts is available to meet with your colleagues to discuss this proposal in more detail at your convenience.

By collaborating with the Bowen Island Conservancy on the creation of the proposed regional park, Metro Vancouver has the opportunity to partner with a longstanding Bowen Island organization. During the upcoming rezoning process for the proposed park, meaningful collaboration will be critical to gaining public support. We look forward to hearing from you about steps that we may take together to build a successful partnership that will ensure that the proposed park is seen as a positive and valuable benefit to both Bowen Island and the larger Metro Vancouver community.

Yours sincerely,

Bowen Island Conservancy
Owen Plowman, President, for the Board

Ellen Coburn, Allie Drake, Paula Hay. Louise Loik, Nerys Poole, John Rich, Bob Turner, Peter Williamson

News & Events

2021 Biodiversity Project/Species Census Report

1300 uploads, and nearly 600 species recorded over the summer!


Three years ago, an Environmental Science student, Chantal Underdown, initiated a broad scale Bowen Island Biodiversity Census project on a citizen science online platform called iNaturalist. Though set up to capture as much of the island flora and fauna as possible, the project was also supporting her university research project on island amphibian species and habitats. This summer, in collaboration with Bowen Island Conservancy, a project within a project, the Bowen Island Species Census, was initiated. 

The objective

We set a goal to inspire citizen scientists to participate in nature observation, and to reinforce the position of the Conservancy as the authority on local species and conservation.

We invited the island community through Facebook, the Bowen Island Undercurrent, this website, and Instagram, to work together to collectively post 1,000 observations of wildlife and natural species from neighbourhoods around the island over the course of the summer. Various postings on social media also highlighted different local species, as a reminder of the project.

The outcome

At the outset we thought that it would be a big reach to obtain the engagement that we were looking for over the summer holidays. In spite of this, we set a goal of 1000 uploads to iNaturalist for the project.

We surpassed our goal by capturing 1,300 uploads to iNaturalist, and generating interest, discussion, and community engagement. Altogether, participants recorded data for our Census on 593 species.

The Project continues to capture data and will remain open for data collection over an extended period. This data is available to anbody for research purposes, or general interest.

The conclusions

The Project proved to be a very successful test of the potential for further fun outreach projects involving community engagement in citizen science nature observation. This specific project showed great potential for reaching a broad audience, that includes locals as well as tourists, and for the potential to hold a single day highly publicized “Bio Blitz” (a day of wildlife photography intended for uploading to  iNaturalist.)

The Project was initiated as a way to track sightings of amphibians and other species as an on-going local citizen science effort. Part of the Project includes a separate area of observation that captures observations exclusively on the Conservancy lands. This area was excluded from the summer Species Census in order to limit visitors to the local conservation areas. We therefore have different data sets for the entire island, for variable time frames, species, and specifically for Conservancy lands. This does not include data provided to the Conservancy by biologists, but does include findings from anyone who chose to provide photos from that location. 

About iNaturalist

iNaturalist Canada is a place where you can record and share what you see in nature, meet other nature watchers, and learn about Canada’s wildlife. It encourages the participation of a wide variety of nature enthusiasts and everyday people. Through connecting different perceptions and expertise of the natural world, iNaturalist Canada hopes to create extensive community awareness of local biodiversity and promote further exploration of local environments. Every piece of information on a species, combined with the vast network of citizen scientists, can give a big picture of Canada’s natural history and be key contributions for conservation decisions.iNaturalist Canada is part of a larger iNaturalist Network which is an international network that allows the transfer of species data and shared technology.

Latest news and events

News & Events

Camping at Cape Roger Curtis

Camper at Cape Roger Curtis

We are seeing people camping on our lands and adjacent lots at the Cape almost every week.

It’s a very serious problem: apart from the damage that campers do, there is a major risk from their fires (and we have found plenty of evidence that, despite the current ban, campers are making fires). Unfortunately there is little that we can do apart from asking campers to leave when we find them, and this doesn’t always go well. So, all we can really do at this point is monitor the situation.

If you see campers on our lands, please report via an email message to us. You can also call 604.947.0973 to make a report. And please email us if you are willing to monitor the lands on a regular basis, perhaps once a week or so. Note that we do not want you to confront any campers that you see on our lands!

News & Events

24-Jul: Get involved with the Bowen Island Biodiversity Project!

What’s this Project about?

How much do you know about the wild things that share this island with you? They are all around us, but may be disappearing before our very eyes! So, this summer, until September 1st, we’re inviting the island community to work together to log 1,000 observations of wildlife and natural species from neighbourhoods around the island.

The Bowen Island Biodiversity Project is our chance to get to know what plants and animals share this island and to build a baseline of knowledge about all things wonderfully wild: from whales to worms and lichen to sea squirts. And it’s your chance to build your knowledge and help crowdsource valuable information, while having fun, and raising awareness of the other species that share the island with us.

Do you know what kind of bees, ants, spiders, or forest slimes are playing a role in the complex interconnections of biodiversity here? Let’s find out together! You may find a species we didn’t know was here, or discover something thought to be locally extinct. 

How do you log an observation?

We want you to use iNaturalist to log your observations of Bowen Island flora and fauna. It’s free to use and very easy.

iNaturalist is a social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists, built on the concept of mapping and sharing observations of biodiversity, around the globe. All you need to use it to log an observation is access to the smartphone app, or the desktop website, and an account (which is easy to create). Then you upload a photo to record your observation and share it with other users (see what has already been logged about Bowen Island).

You don’t have to know what you are looking at, or be an amazing photographer. If your photo is clear, once it’s uploaded iNaturalist will give you suggestions about what it thinks you just took a photo of, and you can choose one, especially if it says “Visually Similar” AND “Seen Nearby.”

Collaborating on-line experts will help you identify species in your photo, if you aren’t sure exactly what it is. Do you know what kind of bees, ants, or spiders or forest slimes are playing a role in the complex interconnections of biodiversity? Let’s find out together. You may find a species we didn’t know was here, or discover something thought to be locally extinct. 

How to get involved

You can use your smartphone or computer to upload photos to your account. You can also upload photos taken with a camera.

The easy way to participate is to grab the iNaturalist smartphone app, and then get outside and take photos of plants, animals and other strange and wonderful wild things and share them on iNaturalist. Make observations with other in your neighbourhood or club, and challenge other neighbourhoods and clubs to make the most observations, or log the most species.

Step 1: Turn on location services on your phone, or your GPS function on your camera.

If your camera does not have GPS capabilities make note of where you’re collecting information.

Step 2: Make an observation

Take photos of wild organisms: plants, animals, fungi or other signs of life such as a nest or tracks.

Take multiple photos of each finding with different features, angles and sizes, with close- ups and wide-angle shots.

Any observations you make within BC parks and protected areas will be automatically included in the BC Parks project.

Step 3: Upload your observation

Use the iNaturalist app or The app is great for on-the-spot uploads and identification, while the website makes it easy to upload multiple photos and observations at once.

Fill in details of the observation yourself or choose from iNaturalist’s suggestions.

Don’t know what you’re looking at? Choose a broader group such as “mosses” or “grasses.” This helps the iNaturalist community find and identify your observation.

Step 4: Share your observation

Upload your photo through the app or website. If you don’t have internet access you can save your observation to your app’s account and upload it later.

Photography tips

  • Plants: Petals, leaves. stem, and base.
  • Mushrooms: Underside, top, and sides.
  • Trees & Shrubs: Close-ups of bark and leaves, wide shot of the whole plant..
  • Snails: Shell opening and both sides of the shell (if you can without disturbing them)
  • Mollusks: Hinge where the two shell halves meet and inside the shell if it’s empty.
  • Dragonflies: Side shots are best with a close-up of the tail. From above if it has a distinctive wing pattern.
  • Bees, Crabs, Spiders: From above and from the front to show mouthparts or claws.
  • Small Organisms: Include an object in the photo to help show size. This could be as simple as your hand, lens cap or a pencil.

Why should you participate?

The majority of today’s extinctions occur on islands.. And we are increasingly noting comments about how things used to be on Bowen: “We used to hear frogs here,” “This area used to be full of salamanders,” “There used to be grouse,” “We used to see flying squirrels,” “There used to be Chinook salmon,” “… resident Orcas …,” “Why don’t we see toads any more?”. If we don’t know what species we have, we may not have a chance to save them. The Project is a way to have fun and learn more about our island flora and fauna while helping to collect data that may be helpful in guiding local solutions for island stewardship, long into the future. You observations will also add to data repositories like the NatureServe CanadaCanadensys and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility to help other scientists. All you have to do is observe!

With a shifting baseline where “normal” is a depleted list of local species of animals and plants, we decided that a fun community challenge would be a great way to get more people increased knowledge about the species that are still here today. With more knowledge comes understanding about our impact on the natural world and how we can be more conscientious, and caring about our role in the loss or survival of our local species.

Got questions?

If you have any questions about the project, send us an email message, and we’ll get back to you.

About iNaturalist

iNaturalist Canada is a place where you can record and share what you see in nature, meet other nature watchers, and learn about Canada’s wildlife. It encourages the participation of a wide variety of nature enthusiasts and everyday people. Through connecting different perceptions and expertise of the natural world, iNaturalist Canada hopes to create extensive community awareness of local biodiversity and promote further exploration of local environments. Every piece of information on a species, combined with the vast network of citizen scientists, can give a big picture of Canada’s natural history and be key contributions for conservation decisions.iNaturalist Canada is part of a larger iNaturalist Network which is an international network that allows the transfer of species data and shared technology.

Latest news and events

News & Events Public education

06-Dec-19: Howe Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve initiative update

On December 6th, several Bowen Islanders took a water taxi to Gambier Island to join with other groups from around Howe Sound for a Conservationists Network Meeting. Our attendees included Sue Ellen Fast, Will Husby, and Adam Taylor, with Owen Plowman and Bob Turner representing the Bowen Island Conservancy. The Network Meeting was a follow-up from our first Network Meeting in October 2017; these meetings are set up so that we can share ideas, news about projects, and get to know like-minded folks from other organizations in the area.

The Gambier Island Conservancy hosted us, and we covered a wide range of topics. Of course, one of the major items on the agenda was progress on the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative, and we heard very welcome news about that! The completed 328 page nomination document for Atl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound to be designated by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve is now with the Canadian Commission for UNESCO for their review and endorsement.