Darkwoods

British Columbia

Darkwoods is the single largest private land purchase for conservation in Canadian history – a land rich with life and natural beauty – an embodiment of the Canadian wild. Fresh air, snow-capped mountains, sparkling water, and majestic wildlife define this region. Home to a variety of special and unique characteristics, this natural wonder in British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountains is truly one of Canada’s most valuable treasures.

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Land

There is so much more outside the world than what’s in the city park.”
- Joseph Kotlar (NCC Stewardship)
map of the Darkwoods region

Darkwoods, British Columbia

51° 39' 24" N

117° 52' 3" W

The Region

Darkwoods is so massive that even if you were to walk this land for a year, there would still be parts of it you would not have reached. It’s one of the most diverse and ecologically rich lands existing in Canada today – a home to an exceptional array of natural habitats. A trove of magnificent mountains, subalpine meadows, tundra, untamed old forests, peaceful valleys, beautiful creeks and lakefront lands make up the Darkwoods region. It’s also where one of the rarest ecosystems left in the world exists – the inland temperate rainforest – also known as the ‘snow forests’.

136,000
Acres Forever Protected

10°C / 20°C

Darkwoods experiences extreme temperature fluctuations from 10 to 20°C depending on the topographical location. Temperatures vary between 5 and 10 °C for every 1,000 metres.

50

There are over 50 freshwater lakes and streams flowing in Darkwoods.

70%

70% of Darkwoods is covered by forest, with over 14 different species of trees inhabiting the region.

2,500m

Darkwoods reaches heights of 500 metres at lake level and 2,500 metres at its highest point.

Life

What we’re really in the business of is protecting biological diversity… it’s making sure that there isn’t just one bird out there, but a multitude of species that exist.”
- Carmen Leibel (NCC Regional Vice President)

Wildlife

Darkwoods is a vast land and provides shelter for a wide range of carnivores and other animals. In total, there are 19 confirmed species at risk, 9 of which are nationally threatened.

Mountain Caribou

Mountain Caribou

  • Darkwoods is home to an endangered herd of southern mountain caribou. Unlike most animals that migrate to valley bottoms in the winter, mountain caribou move to higher elevations in the mountains, taking refuge in the old-growth forests. These large patches of forest provide mountain caribou with food and shelter from predators.

  • 250-700 lbs They average 1.2 metres at the shoulder, 1.8 metres in length, and weights of 250-700 pounds.

  • In the winter months they depend on hair lichen that grow only on old-growth trees found in British Columbia’s South Selkirk Mountains.

  • 10-15 yrs They can live between 10-15 years in the wild.

  • Only 46 caribou make up the herd living in Darkwoods. It is one of the most endangered mammals in North America.

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Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear

  • The grizzly is an icon of the Canadian wilderness and considered one of the strongest and most impressive animals in North America. They are extremely territorial, and more aggressive than their cousins, the black bear. While they prefer to avoid humans and other dangers, mother grizzlies will attack to protect their young.

  • 220-825 lbs Weighs 220-825 pounds, standing 2.4 metres tall.

  • Grizzlies are omnivores, eating plants as well as larger animals, like deer, elk, bison and moose.

  • 25+ yrs They can live 25 years or more.

  • 45 km/h Can run up to 45 km/h.

  • Globally, grizzlies have been shrinking in numbers as their habitat dwindles due to human activity. Today, they inhabit only 50% of their original land range in British Columbia. Human-related activities are responsible for an average of 300 grizzly deaths yearly in the province.

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Western Screech Owl

Western Screech Owl

  • The western screech owl is nocturnal like most owls, but fairly aggressive for their size. They use tree hollows for shelter, and the tops of trees, where they sit and wait for unwitting prey to pass by below, to gain an advantage while hunting.

  • 19-25 cm They’re 19-25 centimetres long and weigh between 100-305 grams.

  • They prey on animals bigger than themselves, including cottontail rabbits and mallards. They also eat smaller birds, mammals, insects, and amphibians.

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Cougar

Cougar

  • Cougars are incredible hunters, with outstanding vision and stealth. They can take down wildlife four times their size, and due to their powerful hind legs, cougars can jump 5.5 metres off the ground, and 9 metres forward. Most prey never see them coming.

  • 132-220 lbs The second largest cat in North America, cougars are around 2.4 metres in length and weigh between 132-220 pounds.

  • They prey on deer, rabbits, hares, caribou and raccoons.

  • 10-12 yrs Cougars have a 10-12 year life expectancy.

  • 56 km/h They can run up to 56 km/h.

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Lynx

Lynx

  • The lynx is a remarkably stealthy animal, rarely seen by human eyes. The lynx’s eyesight, however, is beyond comparison – capable of spotting prey as small as a mouse from 75 metres away.

  • 22-44 lbs Their body length is 80-100 centimetres and they weigh between 22-44 pounds.

  • The snowshoe hare is a favoured food source, but lynx will also eat mice, squirrels, and birds.

  • The lynx fur trade has lead to a decline in their numbers. Additionally, when snowshoe hare populations fall (a favourite food source for lynx), so do the lynx’s numbers.

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Moose

Moose

  • The moose is a majestic creature, and a symbol of Canadian strength and pride. They can be unpredictable at times, but if given a reasonable amount of space, they remain peaceful – charging only when irritated or if feeling threatened. The moose has few enemies because of their enormous size, but a pack of wolves still poses a threat.

  • 1,200-1,500 lbs The largest member of the deer family, an average moose weighs between 1,200–1,500 pounds or more.

  • Their diet includes birch, horsetail, sedges, roots, twigs, pondweeds, grasses, bark, and certain aquatic plants.

  • 15-25 yrs Moose have a life span of 15-25 years.

  • 50 km/h Moose can run faster than 50 km/h.

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Plant Life

Darkwoods contains the highest tree diversity in British Columbia, with over 14 different species of trees. Darkwoods is also home to the ancient woodlands, which have remained predominantly untouched throughout time.

Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar

  • 60 m Grows up to 60 metres tall.

  • 1,000 yrs Referred to as the “tree of life”, the western red cedar, British Columbia’s official tree, can live to the ripe old age of 1,000.

  • Red cedar wood is resistant to decay and insect damage.

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Western Hemlock

Western Hemlock

  • 50-70 m Western hemlock is the largest species of hemlock, reaching heights of 50-70 metres, however, growth is extremely slow.

  • It is a vital food item for deer and elk.

  • Western hemlock are shade-tolerant.

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Engelmann Spruce

Engelmann Spruce

  • 25-40 m Reaches heights of 25-40 metres.

  • Growing populations of spruce beetle are destroying millions of engelmann spruce.

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Douglas Fir

Douglas Fir

  • 60-75 m The second tallest coniferous tree in the world, they can grow to heights of 60-75 metres, with some even reaching 100-120 metres.

  • Douglas fir seeds are an essential food source for mice, voles, shrews, chipmunks, and other small mammals.

  • Douglas fir provide a nesting habitat for a variety of forest dwelling birds like the northern goshawk and the hermit thrush.

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Paper Birch

Paper Birch

  • 9-12 m Grows to heights of 9-12 metres.

  • The twigs of the paper birch are an essential winter food for moose.

  • 140 yrs Lives up to 140 years old.

  • Highly weather-resistant bark.

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Preservation

The history of Canada for about three hundred years was a struggle to escape from the wilderness, and for the last half century, has been a desperate attempt to escape into it.”
- Bruce Hutchison (Canadian Author and Journalist)

The Caribou & Grizzly Restoration Initiative

With the help of Toshiba and the Land Information System, the Nature Conservancy of Canada is able to identify threats, reverse dangers, and record crucial discoveries. ‘The Caribou & Grizzly Restoration Initiative’ is one of the many ways Darkwoods is being protected.

Threat

Threat

A severe decline in caribou and grizzly bear populations due to human activity.

Action

The Nature Conservancy of Canada protected the core habitat for grizzlies and caribou by deactivating roads throughout this area and continues to monitor grizzly bear and caribou populations. Public access and road allowances are also monitored to ensure that these endangered animals have enough secluded habitat to roam free. 117 kilometres of roads have been deactivated since 2009.

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