Fifteen hours north of Vancouver, Canada, in the heart of the province of British Columbia, lies the Skeena Watershed, one of the world’s most resilient, interconnected marine and freshwater ecosystems. The watershed serves as the foundation of ancient traditional cultures that are still alive on the landscape today and supports vital wild salmon, grizzly bear, and wolf habitat. However, despite its rich cultural and biological heritage, the watershed is at risk from industrial oil, gas, and coal development proposals across the region, threatening the existing way of life for all of its residents.
In recent years, multiple liquefied natural gas pipeline projects have been proposed for the Skeena watershed and its sensitive estuary and marine ecosystems. Not only would the projects contribute to the impacts of climate change, but they also threaten critical wild salmon spawning and rearing rivers and pose a threat to native traditions and ways of life. Under constant threat from development interests, the need for protection of the Skeena Watershed has never been greater.
For the past 10 years, the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition (SWCC) has been working to protect the long-term integrity of key marine and terrestrial ecosystems that support the resiliency of the Skeena watershed. Formed in 2004, this diverse group of stakeholders have been on the front lines combatting these dangerous proposals through an array of on-the-ground tactics and campaign level collaborations at the local, regional, and international level. In addition to scientific research and monitoring, SWCC has been working towards developing strategic projects aimed at protecting the Sacred Headwaters of the indigenous Tahltan community.
An LDF grantee, SWCC also seeks to connect community members with their local ecosystems and instill a sense of responsibility to protect the physical, cultural, and spiritual landscape of the Skeena. Through community-level educational events, watershed based activities, social media and direct action in opposition to particular industrial projects, SWCC creates the conditions necessary to support complex pathways for change at a regional level.
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is proud to support the SWCC in its efforts to catalyze grassroots opposition against deleterious pipeline projects, to build stewards for this pristine watershed ecosystem, and to cultivate a sustainable future for all its residents.