Project Details

Caring for Nature: The Nex̱wlélex̱wm/Bowen Island Biodiversity Conservation Initiative

Children explore the beach as a great blue heron watches them on the intertidal zone of Bowen Island, BC

What is the Caring for Nature initiative?

The Caring for Nature Initiative is a long-term commitment by Bowen Island Conservancy to educate, excite, and engage the Bowen Island community in biodiversity conservation on our island. The Initiative is a thoughtful and innovative approach to bring together individuals, groups, and local government to plan, implement, and monitor biodiversity conservation on Bowen.

A circular diagram show three phases for the The Caring for Nature Initiative: Plan, Implement and Monitor

The Conservancy will conduct the Caring for Nature initiative in three phases:

Phase I: Plan (2023-2025)

This first phase of the Initiative will focus on raising community awareness of biodiversity, engaging the community in identifying community values and priorities around Nature, accessing science-based biodiversity data, and developing a biodiversity conservation plan for the island. This will ensure that the biodiversity plan is grounded in robust scientific understanding while also being deeply connected to and supported by the local community, leading to more sustainable and effective conservation outcomes.

Phase II: Implement (beyond 2025)

Equipped with a community and science-based plan, all stakeholders (residents, developers, municipality, businesses, community organizations, etc.) will be able to integrate biodiversity into their decision making. Following this plan, we can minimize risks and maximize opportunities in caring for Nature.

Phase III: Monitor (beyond 2025)

Monitoring is a critical component of any conservation project. Monitoring will allow us to measure changes, track threats, and evaluate the success of our actions. As monitoring raises new issues, the process will repeat to keep the plan and decision-making current and robust.

Our work on Phase I

Phase I has already begun with the objectives of:

  • developing an actionable Biodiversity Conservation Plan for Bowen Island through community engagement and scientific/technical based analysis;
  • building awareness and community support for biodiversity conservation through community open houses, workshops, presentations, videos, and maps;
  • creating online resources to support ongoing community engagement in biodiversity conservation such as online libraries of maps, interactive mapping tools, and reports.
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In March 2023, the Conservancy commissioned Coast Range Environmental to create a context for a Bowen biodiversity strategy.

Their report, Towards a Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for Nex̱wlélex̱wm/Bowen Island, reviews biodiversity science, conservation initiatives by regional agencies, case studies of other municipal biodiversity strategies, and available conservation tools.

eagle-on-rock-by-will-husby

In September 2023, a steering committee of thirteen islanders tasked by the Conservancy to plan the Caring for Nature Initiative. Members include professionals with environmental, conservation biology, communications, nature interpretation, planning and geographic information system backgrounds, as well as Bowen Island municipal councilors and staff liaisons. Since then, the Steering Committee has been working hard to design the Initiative.

Members of the steering committee work together in two teams:

The community engagement team is responsible for designing and implementing the  public engagement process, through the delivery of a website, video, Undercurrent articles, social media, community presentations, open house events and community workshops. 

The scientific assessment team is responsible for organizing and reviewing scientific data, compiling maps, and building capacity to support the public engagement process with scientific analysis and assessment. 

Together, these two teams are designing and implementing a process to elicit community values and priorities regarding island Nature (e.g. What matters most? What is at risk, and where? What can we do to support Nature?). These community values and priorities will guide the scientific work that in turn will provide conservation opportunities, options and constraints.

Community Engagement Sessions - GET INVOLVED!

We’re all naturalists to some degree. As we sit in our yards, or walk through island forests and along shores, we observe, and over the years we witness wildlife, notice patterns, and detect changes to natural habitats. This is the local knowledge of nature that will help drive the Caring for Nature Initiative. 

Community engagement for listening and sharing has always been a vital part of any project on Bowen. The various community engagement sessions for the Caring for Nature Initiative will begin in the fall of 2024 and continue through 2025.

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The Engagement Sessions will give participants the opportunity to share their values, priorities and knowledge to help identify:

  • species of special interest or concern on Bowen 
  • concerns regarding invasive species
  • natural habitats of special interest and value
  • stressors to species and habitats
  • ways we can care for Nature 

If you think you might want to be part of these discussions, please join our email list, and we’ll let you know when the sessions are scheduled.

Photography © by Will Husby

For information contact caring@bowenislandconservancy.org