K'uuna Gwaay Heritage Site/conservancy

Đánh giá K'uuna Gwaay Heritage Site/conservancy, Moresby Island

K'uuna Gwaay Heritage Site/conservancy
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Victoria, Canada12.903 đóng góp
thg 9 năm 2021
I was initially surprised to see the K’uuna Gwaay Heritage Site/Conservancy listed on TripAdvisor; after all, it’s not easily accessible for most people. Located on the northeast corner of Louise Island, and approximately 35 kilometers southeast of Sandspit, the only way to get here is via boat or, if you have the resources, a seaplane. Driving is out of the question – there are obviously no roads or bridges that’ll get you here. But after thinking about the “how” and “why” this is listed on TripAdvisor, it dawned on me: Sure, K’uuna Gwaay is remote, but it’s still easily accessed by those touring Gwaii Haanas. Any and all major tour operators – Moresby Explorers and Haida Style Expeditions, chief amongst them – pass through the conservancy and even stop at sites of interest within it. This is exactly what happened on my recent tour with Moresby Explorers.

First, a bit of context: K’uuna Gwaay was established in 2008 as part of an island-wide strategy of protected areas. The conservancy is fairly large, clocking in at 15,259 hectares in total. Of that number, 2,106 hectares represents the terrestrial, or land-based, component while 13,162 hectares is foreshore. As such, the conservancy is popular with kayakers given the unique geography of the area concomitant with the number of sheltered inlets suitable for anchoring and camping. Focusing on the land component, K’uuna Gwaay includes the eastern portion of Louise Island, Skedans Islands, Breaker Bay, Limestone Island, Reef Island, Low and South Low Islands.

When we patronized K’uuna Gwaay, our primary stop was on Louise Island, visiting the ancient Haida village of Skedans. However, I should note that while it might be tempting to include the village in any write up of K’uuna Gwaay, Skedans is actually not part of the conservancy. It is an “Indian Reserve” surrounded by the conservancy and, as of this writing, there are no plans to include it. That said, one just needs to walk outside the village’s borders to access K’uuna Gwaay – and the rocky beach is probably the best place to do this.

After touring the Skedans area, we got back on the zodiac and spent a bit of time idling around Limestone Island which, as the name suggests, is an island made entirely of limestone. The formations and natural “caves” created as a result of wind and wave action give the island a unique appearance and, at the same time, provide hints as to the importance of the K’uuna Gwaay conservancy. Our guide, Doug, told the tale well: Besides its curious geological makeup, Limestone Island has functioned as an important research facility since 1983. Over the last 38 years, the Laskeek Bay Conservation Society has maintained a research station on the Island and, along with Environment Canada, collects data and monitors various species at risk within the area. We were told that work has focused primarily upon seabirds and marine mammals, with Ancient Murrelets and Pigeon Guillemots mentioned specifically. In addition, the Research Group on Introduced Species has also worked in the area, since 1995, conducting research on the impact of introduced species like the Black-tailed deer and Norway rats. Thanks to their efforts, Low and South Low Islands are now free of deer, which is a true rarity on all of Haida Gwaii.

On the less technical side of things, we also enjoyed observing some of the area’s wildlife: Eagles, ravens, puffins, harbour seals, and a small colony of sea lions. Beautiful to see, but some are rather stinky even from a distance!

I guess, reflecting back, what I really enjoyed about the K’uuna Gwaay Conservancy is the fact that its remoteness provides an important opportunity to maintain (fragile) biological diversity on Haida Gwaii. The establishment of the conservancy plays an important role; however, so too do the ongoing research efforts. Their work not only provides important educational opportunities, but it continues to inform management planning for the area.

When going on a tour of Gwaii Haanas, you will enter the K’uuna Gwaay Conservancy. While here, you’ll no doubt enjoy seeing the wildlife, but do take a moment to ponder and contemplate what’s going on in and around Limestone and Low Islands. Knowing about the ongoing research will better contextualize this conservancy and, indeed, highlight the importance of ALL conservancies on Haida Gwaii.
Đã viết vào 7 tháng 11, 2021
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