East Vancouver Island & the Gulf Islands

Project Description and Location: This project was the first Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory (SEI) in British Columbia. It covers a unique ecological region in Canada. The study area is located on the eastern coastal lowland of Vancouver Island from Campbell River to Sooke, and includes the adjacent Gulf Islands (including Bowen-Gambier and the smaller islands of Howe Sound). 

The inventory began in the spring of 1993 and was completed in September 1997. The study area was reassessed in for disturbance by logging, urban or rural use, roads, trail(s), recreation, agriculture or industrial use, using air photos from 2002.

Project partners: This project was coordinated and overseen by a technical advisory group that included representatives from:

  • Canadian Wildlife Service (Environment Canada)
  • Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection (Vancouver Island Region, Nanaimo)
  • Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management (Conservation Data Centre)

Major funding for the project was provided by Environment Canada (Pacific Coast Joint Venture) and the Habitat Conservation Trust Fund. Additional funds were contributed by B.C.'s Corporate Resources Inventory Initiative, B.C. Ministry of Forests, Capital and Comox-Strathcona Regional Districts, Provincial Capital Commission, Islands Trust, City of Nanaimo and the District of Campbell River. Fisheries and Oceans Canada provided additional stream data to supplement the TRIM (Terrain Resource Information Management) digital base maps.

Project objectives: The original SEI mapping systematically identified and mapped the ecologically significant and relatively unmodified sensitive terrestrial ecosystems remaining in the area. The study was designed to support sustainable land use decisions and to encourage wildlife conservation. 

The disturbance mapping was completed to:

  • monitor change a decade after the original mapping;
  • to raise awareness of escalating ecosystem loss on the east coast of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, and
  • to encourage and facilitate the development of comprehensive conservation strategies to ensure the protection of the remaining natural ecosystems through strategic landscape or ecosystem approaches to land use planning. 

Standards and scale used: This project predates the provincial mapping standards for SEI and TEM. Inventory data was gathered through air photo interpretation, supported by selective field checking. Results are mapped at a 1:20 000 scale.

Data & Reports

Report Authors: 

  • Technical Report: Peggy Ward, Gillian Radcliffe, Jan Kirkby, Jeanne Illingworth and Carmen Cadrin 
  • Conservation Manual: Michael McPhee, Peggy Ward, Jan Kirkby, Larry Wolfe, Nick Page, Katherine Dunster, Neil K. Dawe, and Inga Nykwist
  • Disturbance Mapping Report:  AXYS Environmental Consulting LTD.

Digital files on EcoCatSensitive Ecosystems Inventory (SEI): East Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands (includes Disturbance Mapping)

Hardcopy maps: May be viewed at municipal and regional planning offices.