The Fairyslipper Forest on Thetis Island is now permanently protected.

The Fairyslipper Forest on Thetis Island is now permanently protected.

Fairyslipper Forest permanently protected as Thetis Island’s first publicly accessible nature reserve

Property will allow opportunities for walking and hiking through the forest

Fairyslipper Forest on Thetis Island is now permanently protected as a nature reserve.

The new 16-hectare (40 acre) nature reserve on lower Burchell Hill is the result of a partnership between the Islands Trust Fund, the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy and the Cowichan Community Land Trust, and named after the delicate calypso ‘fairyslipper’ orchids that bloom on the hill each spring.

The property is Thetis Island’s first publicly accessible nature reserve, offering residents and visitors opportunities for walking and hiking on nature trails through the forest. To maintain the natural features of the land, only low-impact and First Nations traditional use activities will be permitted.

“I am thrilled by the support we received on this campaign to create the first publicly accessible nature reserve on Thetis Island and sincerely thank each and every one of our supporters,” noted Ann Eriksson, founding board member of the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy. “This beautiful forest will be protected forever, and each gift, no matter how big or small, is a part of that conservation success story.”

For three years, Thetis Island residents and other individual supporters raised more than half the purchase amount of $560,000. Inspired by the community’s passion for conservation, the campaign received generous contributions from the Sitka Foundation ($50,000), the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s Environmental Enhancement Fund ($5,000), and the Gosling Foundation ($2,500). The campaign finally reached its goal through a bequest of $210,000 from an endowment fund created by Syd Watts and Barbara Dowd, who recognized the Cowichan Community Land Trust in their will.

“The protection of Fairyslipper Forest is regionally significant,” indicated Kai Rietzel, executive director of the Cowichan Community Land Trust. “Fairyslipper Forest Nature Reserve protects a maturing stand of Coastal Douglas fir forest. These types of forests contain the highest diversity of plant species in British Columbia and typically have a high number of species in need of protection.”

“The Islands Trust Fund is proud to have partnered with the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy and the Cowichan Community Land Trust to acquire this wonderful property,” added Tony Law, Chair of the Trust Fund Board. “This purchase is a great example of a community working together to ensure the natural areas we enjoy today continue to benefit future generations.”

Fairyslipper Forest Nature Reserve is the 28th nature reserve to be protected by the Islands Trust Fund. Combined with conservation covenants, the organization protects more than 1,250 hectares (3,088 acres) of natural area on Canada’s islands in the Salish Sea. This purchase brings the total amount of land set aside for nature protection purposes on Thetis Island to 40 hectares (99 acres).

The Thetis Island Nature Conservancy was formed in 2012. Its goals are to conserve and steward natural ecosystems and promote community food security for Thetis. Volunteers and summer staff further this mission through offering general education and hands-on experiences for residents and visitors related to preserving the ecological integrity of the island for future generations.

For more, visit http://www.thetisislandnatureconservancy.org/