The Salish Sea Biodiversity project is an international initiative to document the biodiversity of the Salish Sea.

The Salish Sea is a transboundary bioregion of global ecological and cultural significance, host to a diverse range of terrestrial and marine ecosystems as well as a growing human population. This region includes Canada’s rarest ecosystems, hosting the highest density of species at risk in BC. It is also highly developed, with certain areas comprising as much as 80% private property.

Increasing development in this region places the stewardship of globally precious ecosystems in the hands of private landowners, underlining a critical need for localized citizen science initiatives to raise awareness for this region’s unique ecology. The conservation of this region at once presents unique challenges for research collaborations and conservation strategies that must extend across political boundaries.

Harnessing the momentum of ongoing community-based biodiversity research, our initiative has enlisted a team of researchers in a biogeographic study of this region of critical conservation concern, including taxonomic experts, resident citizen scientists, and curators of biodiversity projects in several communities in British Columbia, CA, and Washington, USA.

By engaging individuals in this research program, we hope to inspire them to take on stewardship roles as curators of their own biodiversity projects, contributing to an interactive bioregional database that integrates with iNaturalist.

This project will engage some of the region’s most prominent naturalists, research institutes
and an international team of computer scientists, resulting in:
Innovative learning resources, including a means of exploring biodiversity data via interactive visualizations designed to support local natural history education, ecological research and conservation
Place-based curricula developed through WWU’s Salish Sea Studies minor program, to support communities in the preparation of comprehensive species inventories for the places they call home
A scalable model for networking biodiversity projects to build capacity for participatory research and conservation throughout the bioregion

This transboundary initiative takes place on the ancestral territories of many Coast and Straits Salish peoples, who have lived in relationship with the many living beings that exist in the lands and waters of the Salish Sea since time immemorial. We understand that acknowledging peoples and territories is an active process that involves an ongoing practice of engagement between Indigenous and settler peoples and respect for Indigenous knowledges of this place. We commit to this practice and seek ways to deepen relationships between lands and peoples through this work.