“To undertake and support research and long term monitoring of wildlife populations of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Haida Gwaii, especially the Laskeek Bay area.”
“To provide opportunities for non-scientists, especially students and local residents of Haida Gwaii, to participate as volunteers in our field programs, and to offer training to impart necessary field research skills.”
“To promote better understanding of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Haida Gwaii, especially the Laskeek Bay area, by providing information to youth, local residents and to the public in general, in the form of publications, meetings and exhibits.”
“To promote the conservation of native species and to develop public awareness of the changes caused by introduced species to Haida Gwaii.”
“To support and assist other programs aimed at providing better knowledge, management and conservation of ecosystems in Haida Gwaii.”
It all started around a campfire back in 1989 when Dr. Tony Gaston of the Canadian Wildlife Service was talking to some local friends about the end of his six-year research project on Reef Island studying Ancient Murrelets. A handful of people were intrigued by this work, and realized there was a need for long-term monitoring of a specific species that would go on for 25 years or more. Such a project would be important to understanding the dynamic interactions between ocean and forest. An idea developed on how to carry on Dr. Gaston’s work and grew into a vision of an opportunity to involve local people and visitors as volunteers in a long-term monitoring project. Volunteers would be given training in scientific field techniques and by their participation, learn more about the ecology of the Laskeek Bay area.
By the next year the Laskeek Bay Conservation Society formed. In the spring of 1990, volunteers built a tiny cabin on East Limestone Island, hired a camp coordinator, and bought enough food and supplies to run a nine-week field research program. Local volunteers helped collect data, did observations and worked on the Ancient Murrelet project.
Originally, the focus was on continuing Dr. Gaston’s monitoring of seabird populations, but opportunities to diversify into other projects soon arose. Our field season on Limestone now runs for three months and undertakes many different programs. We have field staff and a year-round administrator. Over the years we have built extensive trails and put in wooden nest boxes. Our ‘Project Limestone’ program brings local schoolchildren to Limestone each year to experience first-hand biological research.
However, Ancient Murrelet monitoring is still “the heart and soul” of it all with yearly data collection since 1990 – making it one of the longest, continuous-running seabird data sets in Canada. The Ancient Murrelet remains important for two reasons: since over half of the world’s population breeds on Haida Gwaii, it is globally significant; and it is a symbol of the close relationship between offshore marine environment and the coastal rainforest.
The Society is a strong collaborator with several agencies involved in studying the changes caused by introduced deer, raccoons, and squirrels on the native plants and animals of the Islands. LBCS became interested in introduced species when raccoons were discovered eating eggs and killing adults on Limestone Island in 1991.
The Society has run its camp on East Limestone Island every year since 1990. Over the years, hundreds of volunteers, schoolchildren and visitors have taken part in the Limestone program. Our activities have grown to incorporate public education on the biology of the marine and terrestrial ecosystems of Haida Gwaii and the raising of public awareness about the conservation of the native species of Haida Gwaii. We have programs in local schools, newsletters and other publications. We have been part of three conferences on the conservation of native species: The Cedar Symposium in 1996, The Abalone Stewardship Workshop in 2001 and The Research Group on Introduced Species Symposium in 2002.
Our dedicated volunteers are local youth and adults, as well as people from elsewhere in British Columbia and around the globe. Without them, we would not be able to accomplish all that we do. And for all these years, Dr. Tony Gaston has continued to lend us his professional support and time.