Couple donates forest land in Highlands to Habitat Acquisition Trust

An ecologically diverse 23-acre parcel of land bordering Thetis Lake Regional Park is now officially protected by the Habitat Acquisition Trust.

It was owned by Anne and Jim Ginns for 50 years, who had always wanted to see the land permanently protected.

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The Ginns donated a significant portion of the value of the property to HAT to achieve this goal, the Trust said in a statement.

“It would have been difficult for us to save the Highlands forest in perpetuity without mentoring from the capable staff at HAT. We trust our gift will inspire other people to cherish and protect nature,” the Ginns said.

Jonathan Wilkinson, federal environment minister, said in a statement: “Together, and with the support of programs like the Canada Nature Fund’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program, we are making progress toward our goal of conserving a quarter of Canada’s land by 2025.”

Federal funds helped the Trust acquire the site, which is within the Highlands municipality.

Its location is not being revealed until the Trust can take steps to protect sensitive areas, expecting that members of the public will want to visit the site.

The parcels holds a diverse landscape featuring a coastal Douglas-fir ecological zone, the smallest and rarest of the ecological zones in B.C., which contains the highest diversity of plant species in the province.

Logged in the 1950s, the parcel features an undulating landscape, the Trust said, including maturing second-growth coastal Douglas-fir forest on the site’s drier upland to moist lowlands.

Rocky outcrops and pockets of open Garry oak and arbutus ecosystems are present, as are shrub wetlands.

Birds, mammals and amphibians found there include the threatened coastal western screech-owl and olive-sided flycatcher, as well as the endangered sharp-tailed snake.

The Trust was founded in 1996. Its goal is to conserve natural areas on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands through protection, collaboration, stewardship and education. 

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