The “R” factor - the importance of research to inform sound decision-making:
Kwiakah First Nation has invested significantly in extensive research over the last decade, including terrestrial and marine research on the impacts of industrial activities in the territory – all with the goal of correcting inaccurate government assumptions, and identifying and implementing satisfactory mitigation measures.
The scope of the research has included bear habitat and activities and all five west coast salmon species. Five major bear population studies have been undertaken since 2006 for the Phillips watershed, extensive aquatic assessments for Phillips Arm and Phillips watershed in 2014, and a 2015 eelgrass and clam survey study, including a follow up salmon data analysis for the watershed.
An imperative to protect the territory
Kwiakah is compelled to use their funds and donations to conduct this research in the absence of any similar effort by government agencies or industry. The results of research to date indicate that there are immense knowledge gaps, requiring substantially more research. The goal of the research is environmental protection through the development of science-based and professional mitigation measures.
In the absence of up-to-date scientific research results, the Kwiakah leadership has found, governments continue to make decisions over Kwiakah territory without the essential facts required to inform those decisions. Decision-making can be based on wrong or out-of-date assumptions.
Kwiakah First Nation has therefore put government and stakeholders on notice that this cannot continue. In the meantime, the First Nation is proactively providing scientific evidence to government and industry stakeholders, and a range of mitigating measures is being developed based on results from Kwiakah’s ongoing research and stewardship efforts.