From May 16-20, at the Hakai Beach Institute on Calvert Island, Guardian Watchmen and other stewardship staff from across BC’s North and Central Coast, and Haida Gwaii, came together for the 2016 Coastal Stewardship Network Annual Gathering.
Packed full with lively discussions and presentations, the conference offered participants a chance to share news and updates from their Nations, while cultivating new partnerships and ideas for collaborative work.
Before these annual gatherings began 11 years ago, most of the stewardship staff from each Nation—the “eyes and ears” of the BC Coast—didn’t know each other. For those who did, there was little opportunity to swap ideas and information, or to strategize together about key issues that affect their shared goals of monitoring, managing and protecting their lands and waters.
Today, the gatherings not only help to nurture friendships both old and new, they also provide a springboard for launching collective projects, and a prime venue for learning new skills and techniques in Coastal stewardship. In short, it’s about doing more and being stronger together than could ever be possible in isolation.
This year, conference participants took full advantage of Hakai’s research-based facility to engage in hand-on workshops focused on the latest tools and techniques used to monitor Coastal ecosystems. At one session, Guardian Watchmen got a refresher on using a CTD instrument—a marine research tool that calculates conductivity, a measure of the salinity of ocean water, as well as temperature and depth. They also worked with seine nets to collect, measure and identify fish right off the shore, and even got a first-hand look at Hakai’s drone, which is used to conduct aerial surveys of forested ecosystems and in many other applications.
There were sessions to discuss a regional vision for Guardian Watchmen authority and to prioritize regional initiatives for the coming year, as well as a workshop to help assess the costs, benefits and overall value of Guardian Watchmen programs.
These tangible workshops, along with discussions held throughout the conference, help to advance regional stewardship efforts across the region, and ensure Guardian Watchmen have everything they need to effectively monitor these invaluable ecosystems. Most of all, they keep everyone closely connected in a region where Nation-to-Nation meet-ups are never easy to arrange.
Many thanks to the Heiltsuk and Wuikinuxv for welcoming us into their territories and to our funders for all of their support—The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Wilburforce Foundation, Tides Canada, and TNC Canada. And a special thank you to Eric Peterson and Christina Munck of the Tula Foundation and the entire team at the Hakai Beach Institute for all of their work on the Coast and for being such gracious hosts.
Feature Image: Bruce Marchfelder