Our take: Restoring life to the cradle of valley ecology

Estuaries are considered among the most productive, vital eco-systems on the planet.

The Cowichan Estuary? Well, let’s just say it isn’t exactly a shining example of health. Industry and neglect have combined to take the sheen off that precious point where the Cowichan River meets Cowichan Bay.

But a symposium set for this weekend at the Cowichan campus of Vancouver Island University might do more than just draw attention to that fact.

It might mark a point where things start to change.

The symposium will bring together representatives of local coastal communities threatened by human activity with experts in the field.

At its conclusion, participants should leave not only with a better understanding of what is happening locally, but a sense of how to make changes locally that can turn the tide at the mouth of our heritage river.

A group called the Cowichan Estuary Restoration and Conservation Association has already laid much of the groundwork for what needs to be done in our most prominent estuary. It has mapped the history, charted the ecology and unravelled the political knot of authority governing the area.

It has also invested time and effort in getting to know the players and their motivations. Led by internationally known ecologist and Cowichan Bay resident Goetz Schuerholz, CERCA is poised to make a difference in our environmental health.

Anyone who doubts the impact of the estuary on that health is urged to check out a display co-mounted by CERCA and the Royal B.C.  Museum this month in Duncan Mall.

Anyone who cares about that health should attend the symposium.

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