Assessing Resilience, Enhancing Restoration, Building Partnerships

In the fall of 2019, The Nature Trust of British Columbia launched this five-year project to improve estuary habitat and enhance the long-term sustainability and health of wild B.C. Pacific salmon fish stocks.

Beginning with assessments in the first three years, the project will monitor and research resilience to sea-level rise and climate change using the Marsh Resiliency to Sea-Level rise (MARS) tool at 15 estuaries on Vancouver Island, the central coast and Haida Gwaii.

Over the following two years, The Nature Trust of BC will deliver transformational projects that restore core natural estuarine processes, using information gathered from the assessments.

A key element of the project is a focus on developing strong relationships with coastal First Nations communities, environmental organizations and academic institutions. Partners are involved in every step of the project and are integral to its success.

Three field workers wade across a stream in an estuary to conduct research.

Estuaries: the Heart of our Coastlines

Estuaries have been called the heart of coastal ecosystems, connecting rivers, the ocean and upland environments. This mixing of habitats fosters an incredible biodiversity, with delicate but productive ecosystems for plants and animals from the land and the water. Estuaries are especially critical for the health of wild BC fish like Pacific salmon, as they act as nurseries for juvenile salmon, providing a place for them to rest and adjust to saltwater before they swim out to sea. Increasing the resilience of these coastal ecosystems in important to the long-term survival of these species.

The 15 estuaries sites included in the BCSRIF project are located in the Salmon River, Fulmore/Shoal River, Cowichan River, Nanaimo River, Englishman River, Glendale River, Cluxewe River, Quatse River, Asseek River, Koeye River, , Bella Coola River, Kaouk River, Moyeha River and the Kumdis and Naden-Davidson estuaries. Nine of these estuaries are located on land conserved by The Nature Trust of BC.

Top down view of an estuary with rivers spreading out like veins across the landscape

Estuary Quick Facts

Estuaries are where a river meets the ocean. They are a transition zone at the tidal mouth of a river where freshwater and saltwater mix.

3% of Coastline, 80% of Wildlife

Coastal wetlands are 3% of B.C.’s coastline, but support more than 80% of B.C.’s coastal wildlife.

Home to Many Species

Some of B.C.’s coastal estuaries support multiple species of salmon and dozens of bird species.

Provide Ecosystem Services

Estuaries filter sediment, trap carbon dioxide, and stabilize shorelines from erosion.

Sensitive to Climate Change

Climate change is expected to highly impact estuaries from rising sea-levels, ocean acidification, temperature and salinity changes and more.

UN Ocean Decade

The ocean, climate change, and the resilience of coastal communities are closely intertwined. The United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development recently endorsed the Enhancing Estuary Resilience project as an action that will help unlock ocean-based climate soluions and support coastal communities, under Ocean Decade Challenge Six, Increase community resilience to ocean hazards.


Learn more about our project’s endorsement and the UN Ocean Decade here.