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Gwaii Haanas

Date of Submission: 01/10/2004
Category: Mixed
Submitted by:
Parks Canada Agency
State, Province or Region:
BRITISH COLUMBIA
Coordinates: N52 W131
Ref.: 1938
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Description

The Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site covers about 15 percent of the Queen Charlotte Islands, an archipelago 80 km off the northwest coast of mainland British Columbia that separates Hecate Strait from the Pacific Ocean. The size of the terrestrial area, which consists of 138 islands, is 1 495 km2, with a surrounding marine conservation area (proposed) of 3 400 km2 . The park reserve includes SGaang Gwaii World Heritage Site, a 3 km2 island inscribed in 1981 under cultural criterion (iii). Two other remarkable former Haida villages, Tanu and Skedans, are located within the park reserve. As well, more than 600 archaeological features in the park reserve give evidence of Haida occupation and activities in the region. Traditional narratives, songs, places names and language relate the park reserve area intimately to Haida history and way of life. The rich and living culture of the Haida people permeates the area. The natural resources of the area, with their abundance of essential ingredients for sustenance and growth, are an integral part of Haida traditional culture, and life with the land and sea. Natural features of Gwaii Haanas range from the highly dissected San Christoval Mountains, which form the backbone of the area, to fiords, 40 freshwater lakes, old-growth temperate rainforests and a rich diversity and abundance of wildlife. The proposed marine conservation area lies along one section of the Queen Charlotte tectonic plate, and includes highly diverse living intertidal and subtidal marine communities. It is also strategically located along the Pacific flyway, hosting huge seabird breeding colonies as well as being an important migrant stopover. Marine mammals are also abundant, including sea lions, porpoises, killer whales and migrating grey whales.