The Gitga’at Guardians program exists to ensure that the environment, community, and food resources of the Nation are protected — both now and in the future. This is accomplished through various research and monitoring programs that oversee resource harvesting practices within GFN territory.
From a marine perspective, a vessel monitoring program is in place to prevent harmful substances from entering the Nation’s land and marine environments. In local waters, the levels of various toxins are checked regularly. Populations of marine animals and food resources are monitored in collaboration with local and partner institutions.
The Guardians have several monitoring stations, including cabins which enable the Nation to keep tabs on who is doing what. This is especially important in protected places home to critical habitats for threatened species and culturally significant areas.
Many types of people wish to have access to the Nation’s territory and resources. These people include hunters, sport and commercial fisheries, tourism operators, logging operations, and shipping traffic. Each group must abide by rules that govern the harvest of specific resources within the Nation’s territory.
Where Tradition Meets Science
A unique aspect of the Gitga’at Guardians is that the program combines traditional stewardship practices with scientific monitoring. Using both approaches, sustainable resource management is achieved, helping ensure the health of land and marine environments on the Nation’s territory.
Plants and Animals Found On GFN Territory
There are some amazing plants and animals found on the traditional territory of the Gitga’at people. These include whales, wolves, moose, eagles, cougars, grizzly and black bears, and the elusive spirit bear.
The remote coastal waters of the GFN are ideal habitats for creatures such as whales. Endangered whale species found in the Nation’s territory include orcas and humpbacks. The Nation has partnered with several research organizations to track the movement of whales and gain an understanding of environmental conditions that favour healthy whale populations.
Hydrophone Network For Whales
An example of a specific program underneath the Gitga’at Guardians umbrella is the installation of a hydrophone network. This project was started in partnership with the North Coast Cetacean Society. The purpose of hydrophones is to detect the song calls of whales. Hearing their calls enables the Guardians to gather information, including feeding areas, travel routes, and how long they stay in specific areas. When combined, all of this information enables decisions to be made about whale conservation.
The Gitga’at Guardians Are Helping the Nation Achieve a Better Tomorrow
Whales are just one example of a successful conservation initiative undertaken by the Gitga’at Guardians and its partners. Over the coming years and decades, there will be many others as the GFN ensures stewardship over the lands, waters, and resources in its territory.
Learn more about the Guardians on the GFN website: http://gitgaatnation.ca/oceans-lands/