Critical for connectivity and biodiversity

Quadra Hill (DL 58) is a 47 ha piece of ecologically-sensitive and diverse land within the Mid-Island Protected Areas Network. It is a gem of ecological diversity at the centre of the biologically diverse Salish Sea and the provincially and globally imperiled Coastal Douglas-Fir biogeoclimatic zone (CDF).

Home to the highest number of at-risk species and ecosystems in BC, the CDF zone is of great conservation concern, yet only 11% of its area is currently protected. Preserving these forests helps maintain habitat and connectivity for native plants and wildlife species. The sheltered waters and rich biodiversity of nearshore areas found at Cable Bay also provide significant habitat for resident and overwintering birds, intertidal life, fish and marine mammals.

A long and rich history

This special property on Galiano Island is an important part of the 668 ha network of conservation lands extending from Trincomali Channel to the Strait of Georgia, known as the Mid-Island Protected Areas Network.

Part of the traditional and unceded territories of the Penelakut, Hwlitsum, and other Hul’qumi’num-speaking peoples, the area around Quadra Hill has a long history of use and habitation by Coast Salish Peoples.

The GCA recognizes the deep significance of these lands within the traditional territories of many First Nations. As steward of these lands, the GCA is committed to honoring and learning from the rich cultural heritage and ecological wisdom of the First Nations whose ancestral connections to these lands continue to this day.

Species at Risk

The Quadra Hill property is in a Priority Area for the Pacific Birds Habitat Joint Venture, an international collaboration that works to sustain habitats for migratory birds across the vast landscapes they travel.

Quadra Hill contains at least 17 ecological communities, including areas of marsh and swamp forest, as well as Garry oak woodland, a highly endangered ecosystem that supports a great diversity of rare plants, mosses, lichens, and insects.

Quadra Hill property is a haven for species at risk, including the little brown bat, the olive-sided flycatcher, the band-tailed pigeon and the common nighthawk.

Protection and restoration of the Quadra Hill property preserves wetland habitat for the Northern red-legged frog and for Blue-listed dragonflies, such as the autumn meadowhawk, blue dasher and western pondhawk.

The property also includes suitable habitat for the Western screech owl, an enigmatic species confirmed in only a handful of sites across the Gulf Islands and historically detected on Galiano, but which has not been seen in recent years.

Quadra Hill also provides significant habitat for western redcedar (Thuja plicata), a cultural keystone species. Known in the Hul’qumi’num language as X’pey, or ‘tree of life’, cedar has exceptional cultural, spiritual, and economic significance to coastal First Nations people, but is under threat from climate change and land alteration in the region.


Connectivity is key

Quadra Hill borders protected areas to the north, east, and south, providing direct connectivity along 77% of its 2755 m perimeter. The remainder of the perimeter borders Retreat Cove Farms, one of the largest contiguous mature forests on Galiano Island, which, like Quadra Hill, has been identified for its high conservation value. Other protected areas within two kilometres of Quadra Hill are the Pebble Beach Reserve, Trincomali Nature Sanctuary, Retreat Island Nature Sanctuary, Laughlin Lake Nature Reserve, and the Qw’xwulwis – Cable Bay Conservation Area.

Securement of the Quadra Hill property in 2023 has added 47 ha to the Mid-Island Protected Areas Network and removed a bottleneck in the wildlife corridor across the island, facilitating the migration of ecosystems and species as they adapt to shifting conditions in response to climate change.

Revitalizing wetlands

Freshwater wetlands are considered to be among the most biologically diverse and productive ecosystems, but are rapidly disappearing due to climate change and development. Wetlands are disappearing three times as fast as forests around the globe. The GCA is restoring a 3 ha area of degraded agricultural fields to a forested wetland ecosystem on Quadra Hill. Historically, this site was clear-cut, flattened, compacted, ditched and drained, farmed, grazed, and then abandoned.

The objective of this restoration project is to facilitate natural succession and reestablish diverse, carbon-dense Western redcedar swamp ecosystems, which will provide breeding habitat for red-legged frogs and rare dragonflies. This will also promote carbon sequestration and reduce the impacts of severe weather events, as well as increase groundwater recharge through improved infiltration, which reduces the severity of droughts.

An important carbon sink

Some younger pole sapling forests at Quadra Hill will undergo ecological thinning treatments to enhance carbon sequestration, promote biodiversity, improve stand complexity, and mitigate the risk of wildfire.

Coastal forests in the Salish Sea are among the most carbon-dense ecosystems and have been shown to sequester more carbon per hectare than other areas of the CDF. The Quadra Hill property is estimated to store at least 40,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents and expected to sequester an additional 8,000 tons over the next 30 years. This is equivalent to the lifecycle emissions of 2,000 mid-sized gas-powered vehicles.

Extreme heat and higher average temperatures brought on by climate change greatly increase the risk of forest fires. Enhanced management in these post-harvest Douglas fir stands will promote greater diversity and heterogeneity within these forests and mitigating fire risk.

Quadra Hill

At a Glance

  • Size: 46.9 ha
  • Legal Description: District Lot 58, Galiano Island, Cowichan District, Except Plan EPP26543; PID: 009-624-856
  • Acquisition Year: 2023


Connects to over 20 kilometers of public trails across the Mid-Island Protected Areas Network

Knowledge Hub

Key Resources

Media Gallery

Explore photos and other media captured at the Quadra Hill property

Knowledge Hub

Additional Resources

Explore the following resources to learn more about Quadra Hill.