The focus of the DIEM Project study area is the Discovery Islands archipelago located between Vancouver Island and BC’s wilderness mainland near Bute Inlet. The Discovery Islands are part of the foothills of BC’s Coast Range, a dynamic coastal area where climate regions converge, and along with major tidal confluence, contribute to significant biological diversity. Abundant natural wealth, combined with the area’s splendid beauty also makes the Discovery Islands a desirable place to live, work and play, and increasing human activities and demands are fragmenting and degrading many of the islands’ natural areas. Undeveloped parts of these northern gulf islands contain healthy ecosystems with abundant flora and fauna, and viable habitat for some of the province’s species of conservation concern.
The Discovery Islands also occur at a significant intersection of watershed groups that flow north into the Johnstone Straits, and south into the Strait of Georgia. The islands’ climate is largely influenced by mainland inlets, including the Bute Inlet and the highest peaks of the Coast Range. The Project’s mapping of Enduring Features includes this large influencing region, with a “Watershed Study Area” boundary defined by the area of hydrologic influence (wherein all fresh water flows into the islands’ marine environment,) and which captures the significant geomorphologic processes that create the terrain and climate of the Discovery Islands.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory is now documented for island communities where there is an urgent need to coordinate planning decisions that ensure appropriate land use for ecological integrity and sustainable economies.