Gross domestic happiness
Shoal Harbour Sanctuary, one of the oldest migratory bird sanctuaries on the Pacific coast and part of the internationally-recognized Southern Salish Sea Important Bird Area, is renowned for its diversity of wintering waterfowl and seabirds. But it also encompasses one of the rarest ecosystems in Canada — the Coastal Douglas Fir ecosystem with its iconic Arbutus.
This habitat is highly fragmented and the intact fragments are largely restricted to two areas: Lillian Hoffar Park in North Saanich and Beaufort Avenue in Sidney.
These areas give us much of our natural ambience in our noisy urban environment and include the songs of many small bird species unique to our shores. Bushtits, Towhees, Song Sparrows, Wrens and Finches all contribute to our gross domestic happiness — a measure of contentment for which the country of Bhutan is famous.
This biological diversity and seaside ambience is being eroded through two main inter-related forces: habitat loss and predation. We can help reverse this through maintenance of native vegetation on the waterfront and keeping cats under control. It has been shown around the world that domestic cats are one of the largest sources of mortality for small native species of birds and mammals.
Jack Thornburgh, Friends of Shoal Harbour Sanctuary