Andrew Simon, a Quest alum, is leading Galiano residents in a project to document every species on their island home.
[This is a teaser story made of excerpts from the full and fascinating article over at The Tyee!]
One of the first steps of the project was collecting the names of every species that had previously been documented on the island. Simon gathered records dating back to 1859 from explorers who had visited the island, as well as findings from local naturalists; he scoured natural history museum archives, and drew on the knowledge of. . . Indigenous knowledge keepers. In the end, Simon had a list of nearly 2,800 species of animals, plants and fungi known from the island — and a launching point for his mission to identify every species on the whole of the island.
Andrew Simon, the naturalist spearheading the Biodiversity Galiano project, uses the macro lens on his camera to inspect the minute details on a sample of lichen. Photo by Shanna Baker.
A piqued passion for biodiversity led Simon to focus on environmental studies and cognitive science at Quest University Canada in Squamish, B.C., and his experience. . .helped him land an internship on Galiano Island in 2010. After a summer spent pulling weeds, propagating native plants, and teaching environmental education classes for the Galiano Conservancy Association (a local non-profit dedicated to ecological stewardship), Simon set to work conducting biodiversity surveys on the island.
At first, Simon wanted to create a comprehensive field guide to the species found on a large property owned by the Galiano Conservancy. By the time he had written a rambling, 100-page manuscript that hadn’t yet moved beyond marine algae, he realized that there were probably better ways to engage the community in learning about the local biodiversity. Having himself been changed by the process of getting to know his non-human neighbours, he wanted to help the local community deepen its appreciation for the island that he had grown to love.