Conserving our most precious (and vast) landscapes and ecosystems isn’t something we can accomplish alone. It’s a team sport propelled by collaborative science, with individuals and organizations working in lasting, impactful partnerships.
Raincoast Conservation Foundation has partnered with DUC since 2018 on successful restorations in the Fraser River Estuary. These projects aim to ensure that estuary habitat viability is sustained well into the future.
“The collaborative work of our two organizations secured us large-scale restoration funding through the B.C. Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund,” says Dave Scott, Lower Fraser research and restoration director for Raincoast. “Back in 2018, both organizations were working on complementary restoration projects in the same area of the Fraser Estuary. We decided to pool our science and research knowledge around juvenile salmon with DUC’s plant identification and monitoring expertise, and the work speaks for itself.”
“Collaborative restoration” benefits juvenile salmon habitat
So often in science, the best leaps forward happen when separate disciplines converge. This was the case with the Raincoast and DUC teams as they worked together to improve their respective assessment and monitoring programs. The result was the success of the Fraser River Estuary Salmon Habitat (FRESH) Restoration Projects, a $5 million joint application in 2021 to the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund (BCSRIF).
“Now, we have over two years of collaborative restoration work as well as a joint field crew conducting monitoring on all of our project sites,” says Scott.
- Restoring tidal marsh and migration pathways for wildlife: An update on the FRESH program’s work in salmon habitats in the Fraser River Estuary
- The Raincoast-led North Arm Jetty Breaches project: two breaches in a river training jetty to restore natural fish migration pathways.
- The DUC-led Sturgeon Bank Sediment Enhancement Pilot Project is an innovative initiative re-using sediment dredged from the Fraser River to restore degraded tidal marsh and support coastal flood protection for the City of Richmond.
Looking ahead for coastline conservation
Both DUC and Raincoast share the same transformative goals for how saltwater shorelines are managed in B.C. and beyond. It starts with the Fraser estuary, but the more ground covered and the more discoveries made, the better the outlook for coastal science everywhere.
Restoring natural infrastructure includes river and estuarine habitats which benefit bird and fish populations, and the human populations that rely on them too.
“What the team can achieve in the Fraser estuary informs how similar habitats can be helped to thrive,” says Scott. “Our scientific results support our ability to adapt and meet future challenges—or head them off entirely.”
From proof of concept to proof of impact
Since 1990, Raincoast has consistently made progress toward their habitat and wildlife protection goals. Their people have built a vast knowledge base of the B.C. coastline with partnerships that include key researchers, First Nations communities and NGOs with the shared goal of preserving rainforest and marine ecosystems. Their collaborators now include DUC.
“Working collaboratively allows us to show funders that the environmental NGOs involved in the Lower Fraser and Estuary conservation efforts are aligned and working together to maximize efficiency,” says Raincoast biologist Paige Roper.
She is a researcher at the Pacific Salmon Ecology and Conservation Lab, which is overseen by renowned forest researcher Scott Hinch at University of British Columbia. Her research focus is dietary differences of juvenile wild and hatchery Chinook salmon in eelgrass habitat.
“Collaboration allows us to share more ideas while creating new ones,” she adds. “It also helps to expand our expertise in all aspects of the scientific process from potency delivery to monitoring to regulations and permitting.”
Aside from the benefits to natural habitats that Raincoast and DUC have brought to the Fraser River Estuary, the partnership has also created meaningful employment for local scientists and technicians on the Pacific coast. The result is more conservationists and scientists empowered to move research, knowledge and on-the-ground impacts forward all at the same time.
Collaboration allows us to share more ideas while creating new ones. It also helps to expand our expertise in all aspects of the scientific process from potency delivery to monitoring to regulations and permitting.
About the FRESH Restoration Projects
The Fraser River Estuary Salmon Habitat (FRESH) partnership includes DUC, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Tsawwassen First Nation and Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance. Funding is provided by the British Columbia Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund through Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Province of British Columbia, with additional funding from Tsawwassen First Nation and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.
85 Years of Conservation: Unlimited Together 2023
Ducks Unlimited Canada celebrates 85 Years of Conservation: Unlimited Together by recognizing deep collaborations and partnerships with organizations like the Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Whether national or local, conservation partnerships make all the difference—both in what we’re doing to reverse habitat damage and in how much further we travel toward thriving ecosystems everywhere in Canada.
The Fraser River Delta is the last major stop for migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway route north to the Arctic.
DUC continues forging partnerships for shared stewardship of the Fraser River EstuaryLearn more