Legacy Of Gwaii Haanas
There is one place in the world that speaks of a saved wilderness and it is Gwaii Haanas. With islands at the mercy of pounding seas and the fury of Hecate Strait, it upholds its spirit in all that is wild.
Officially known as Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area, and Haida Heritage Site, it is found off the northwest coast of Canada, just south of Alaska. It’s an isolated location where you can journey to see nature in the raw.
Established in 1988, Gwaii Haanas celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. Over many decades, its landscape has drawn controversy and publicity, but also care and protection.
During the 1970s, clearcut after clearcut after clearcut decimated and scarred hills once abundant with trees. What might have caused more destruction was halted in 1985 by the Haida, the local community and environmentalists, such as David Suzuki, who decided to speak out about the ongoing devastation.
In 2010, Gwaii Haanas became a National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA) Reserve and the first place on Earth to be protected from mountain to sea floor. Covering well over 4,000 square kilometres, all development by oil and gas industries is prohibited in the region.
Loggers, forestry lobbyists and government officials have all stood their ground on Haida Gwaii. Yet, nature has prevailed and the old-growth forests and remote beaches of Gwaii Haanas continue to be respected without fail.
To me, this is a real example of what it takes to love this Earth we live on and what people will do in order to preserve it. Gwaii Haanas is home to life and all that is Haida. It’s where the cedar grows, where the spruce and hemlock are rooted, and where wild salmon swim and ravens soar. Its legacy gives me hope.