Research Initiatives

The Great Bear Rainforest is of great interest to researchers from around the world. While the majority of studies involve the biology and geography of the region, considerable research is also conducted on First Nations’ culture, traditions, history, language and environmental stewardship as well as the socio-economics of resource management, ecotourism, public relations and ecosystem-based management practices.

The Hakai Institute

The Hakai Institute is a scientific institution that conducts long-term environmental research on the coastal margins of B.C ranging from archaeology to oceanography to ecology to mapping. The Institute—operated by the by the non-profit Tula Foundation—includes it’s own faculty, staff, and research equipment, as well as a considerable network of affiliated faculty and other collaborators at universities, government agencies, and First Nations.

Their flagship research station is located at the southern end of the Great Bear Rainforest in Pruth Bay on Calvert Island. The northern portion of Calvert Island and the surrounding area is part of the Hakai Lúxvbálís Conservancy, the largest marine reserve on B.C.’s coast. The southern half of the island is a protected area known as the Calvert Island Conservancy.

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The 100 Island Project

Researchers are trying to understand how nutrients from the sea affect the ecology of plants, breeding birds, mammals, insects and amphibians. To do this, they are intensively studying 100 islands on the B.C. Central Coast near the Hakai Institute. Little is known about the diversity on these islands, which vary in size from a few meters across to many hectares. Researchers are mapping and tracking how nutrients from the ocean move along shorelines and up into the forests on these islands, and how these conditions affect the distribution of animal and plant species. The 100 Islands Project will help build and maintain an inventory of natural features on the islands that could serve as a foundation for future studies and other research programs.

Partnership with Smithsonian Institute’s MarineGEO initiative

The Hakai Institute is the first Canadian partner in the Smithsonian-led Marine Global Earth Observatory—or MarineGEO—which is focused on monitoring the health of coastal ecosystems globally. MarineGEO research at the Hakai Institute is focused on four key habitats: kelp forests, seagrass meadows, soft sediments, and the rocky intertidal. These ecosystems buffer the coastline from storms, and provide habitat for ecologically, economically, and culturally important species of plants and animals. Hakai scientists are collecting vital information to establish baselines and understand what’s changing in these ecosystems over time. The partnership with MarineGEO means that information from Hakai’s existing marine research initiatives will be shared with other MarineGEO sites all over the world, helping build a global monitoring data set for important nearshore ecosystems.

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Special thanks to –

Hakai Institute

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University of Victoria – School of Environmental Studies

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