Qualicum National Wildlife Area

Qualicum National Wildlife Area (NWA) is located in southwest British Columbia. It is an important area for migratory birds and many species of wildlife.

Description

Qualicum NWA is located on Nanaimo Lowland. The lowland is a strip of land that extends from Johnstone Strait in the north, to the Jordan River located west of Victoria. The strip is flanked on the west by the Insular Mountain range, and extends eastward under the Georgia Strait.

Landscape
Qualicum NWA. Photo: Neil K. Dawe

Dividing the lowland in many places are streams and rivers. Entry of these watercourses into the sea has led to the development of the estuaries that are the focus of the Qualicum NWA. Estuaries are semi-enclosed bodies of water that connect to the sea and offer a transition between marine and freshwater environments. The Qualicum NWA protects three separate estuaries. These estuarine areas, comprising a total of 82 ha, contain coastal Douglas-fir forests, upland meadows, and intertidal marsh habitats. These provide important habitat for birds, fish, and other plants and wildlife.

Millions of birds from North and South America and Asia visit the Georgia Strait in southwestern British Columbia on a yearly basis. The area is one of the most important migratory bird habitats in Canada due to several factors:

  • mild, marine climate
  • high, yearly productivity
Great Blue Heron
Great blue heron. Photo: Simon Pierre Barrette, alias Cephas

The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) obtained three areas on the east coast of Vancouver Island. Together these units are managed as Qualicum NWA. They are:

  • Rosewall Creek Unit (RCU)
  • Marshall-Stevenson Unit (MSU)
  • Nanoose Bay Unit (NBU)

The MSU was donated to CWS in 1974 to preserve estuary and upland habitat. The RCU and NBU were intended to preserve existing estuaries. The predecessor of The Nature Trust, the National Second Century Fund, purchased the NBU in 1976 where it was then leased to the CWS for 99 years for the purpose of wildlife management. The RCU consists of four properties that were purchased between 1973 and 1979 that are yet to be designated, but are currently managed as part of the NWA.

CWS manages these units to maintain and enhance its capacity to provide wintering and breeding habitat for migratory birds.

More information is provided on Qualicum NWA in the summary table below.

Management

Under the Canada Wildlife Act, NWAs are protected and managed in accordance with the Wildlife Area Regulations. The primary purpose of NWAs is to protect and conserve wildlife and wildlife habitat. For this purpose and according to the legislation, all activities in a NWA that could interfere with the conservation of wildlife can be prohibited. Consequently, most NWAs are not accessible to the public and all activities in these NWAs are prohibited. However, some activities may be authorized through Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations or the issuance of permits as long as they are consistent with the management plan goals for the NWA. For more information, consult the NWA Management and Activities section.

Any authorized activities are listed in Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations; signage is also posted at access points. Additionally, certain types of activities may require federal or provincial permits.

Authorized activities in the Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations for Qualicum NWA:

  1. wildlife viewing
  2. hiking on designated trails
  3. operating a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle, on designated roads and trails and in designated parking areas
  4. sport hunting of waterfowl — including with dogs off-leash — in designated areas in the Rosewall Creek Unit, from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset, if the hunting is carried out
    1. in accordance with any applicable federal permit and any authorization required by the laws of British Columbia for sport hunting in that province; and
    2. without the use of toxic shot
  5. Operation by sport hunters of a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle, on designated roads and trails and in designated parking areas, from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset
  6. Sport fishing in designated areas of the Rosewall Creek Unit in accordance with any applicable federal permit and any authorization required by the laws of British Columbia for sport fishing in that province

More information on access and permitting for Qualicum NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment and Climate Change Canada regional office.

Map of the area

Map of Qualicum NWA
  • Long description

    Map of the area surrounding Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island in southwestern British Columbia. The boundaries of Qualicum NWA are outlined in purple. The NWA is separated into three units. Rosewall Creek Unit is located furthest west and is south of Denman Island between Highway 19 and the shoreline. Nanoose Bay Unit is located the furthest east. Marshall-Stevenson Unit is located near Qualicum Beach. The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water, roads and highways are all indicated on the map. A small inset shows the NWA in Canada.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries.

Summary table

Summary table Qualicum National Wildlife Area
Category Information
Protected Area designation National Wildlife Area (NWA)
Province/territory British Columbia
Latitude/longitude 49°14' North / 124°11' West
Size 78 ha
Reason for creation of protected area To preserve estuaries and upland habitats
Date created (Gazetted) 1977 - Legal description
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Management Category Strict Nature Reserve (Ia)
Additional designations
Keystone or flagship species
Main habitat type
  • coastal douglas fir forest
  • intertidal marsh
  • upland meadows
Species at Risk Great blue heron
Invasive species Reed canary grass
Main threats and challenges Habitat degradation
Management Agency Environment and Climate Change Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)
Public access and usage Authorized activities in the Schedule I.1 of the Wildlife Area Regulations for Qualicum NWA:

  1. wildlife viewing
  2. hiking on designated trails
  3. operating a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle, on designated roads and trails and in designated parking areas
  4. sport hunting of waterfowl — including with dogs off-leash — in designated areas in the Rosewall Creek Unit, from half an hour before sunrise to half an hour after sunset, if the hunting is carried out
    1. in accordance with any applicable federal permit and any authorization required by the laws of British Columbia for sport hunting in that province; and
    2. without the use of toxic shot
  5. Operation by sport hunters of a vehicle, other than a snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle, on designated roads and trails and in designated parking areas, from one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset
  6. Sport fishing in designated areas of the Rosewall Creek Unit in accordance with any applicable federal permit and any authorization required by the laws of British Columbia for sport fishing in that province

Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page, any notice posted at the NWA site and the law, the law prevails.

Contact us

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Pacific Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Program
5421 Robertson Road
Delta, British Columbia
V4K 3N2

Toll-free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Email: enviroinfo@ec.gc.ca

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