‘It is a gift for us all’: 52.5-acre land donation near Nanaimo is largest ever for conservancy group

'It is a gift for us all': 52.5-acre land donation near Nanaimo is largest ever for conservancy group
Photo credit: Islands Trust Conservancy
Late Betty Swift (middle) with daughter Hally and son-in-law Ted on Link Island.

Islands Trust Conservancy is welcoming its largest-ever land donation — a 52.5-acre island just off Vancouver Island packed with biodiversity and various ecosystems.

Link Island, located southeast of Nanaimo near Gabriola Island, was gifted by late conservationist Betty Swift and is valued at $3.73 million by BC Assessment, the conservancy said Tuesday.

At low tide, the plot of land is connected to both Mudge and DeCourcy islands.

It comes with a wealth of biodiversity and over three kilometres of undeveloped shorelines, coastal cliffs, wetlands, sandstone formations and tidal flats, according to the conservancy in a news release.

The island is also home to mixed forest ecosystems, including threatened coastal Douglas-fir, arbutus and prairie oak meadows inhabited by threatened species like the Western screech owl, barn swallow and great blue heron.

“The island will continue to remain closed to the public so it can provide sanctuary to the rare and threatened ecosystems and species that reside there,” the conservancy said.

Swift passed away in 2021 and left instructions that the island be transferred to the conservancy while still reserving its right of use for her family, who hope it will become a location for climate change research in the Salish Sea.

“This gift is about the future. It is a gift for us all,” noted Swift’s daughter, Barbara Swift, in the release.

“We feel so honoured that Betty and her family have entrusted us with this island,” said Linda Adams, Islands Trust Conservancy chair. “It is our intent to manage Link Island in a way that recognizes and protects both its cultural and ecological values.”

Link Island Nature Reserve has the added protection of a conservation covenant held by the Nanaimo and Area Land Trust and the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust, the conservancy explains.

Paul Chapman of the Nanaimo and Area Land Trust says an entire island set aside for conservation “is an incredibly rare thing,” while Rob Brockley, president of Gabriola Land and Trails Trust, calls it “an incredibly generous gift for conservation,” adding, “the Swifts are a truly remarkable family.”

Islands Trust Conservancy, a land trust for over 450 islands of the Salish Sea, says it’s developing a management plan for Link Island and is initiating conversations with local First Nations.

Photos: Islands Trust Conservancy


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