Photo: Howe Sound: The big tent approach

(Credit: Dav Naj via Flickr)

Howe Sound, a majestic fjord in Vancouver's backyard, is many things to many people: wilderness haven, home, place of employment and recreational playground. Visitors comment on the majestic ocean and mountain views from the Sea to Sky corridor. Locals note the remarkable return of whales and dolphins following years of industrial pollution and habitat destruction. Recreational enthusiasts hike, climb, kayak and dive here. And Metro Vancouver relies on nature's services provided through Howe Sound's green and blue belts.

It's hard to believe that this piece of paradise isn't being managed through a long-term plan, but it's not. With a slew of new industrial projects in the works, the David Suzuki Foundation is bringing together diverse voices calling for a sensible marine and land-use plan that includes protected areas and guidance for regional development. It's a big tent approach that recognizes the diversity of interests hoping to leave a natural legacy of good management for the future.

With the support of the Squamish Nation, in whose traditional territory Howe Sound is situated, we have taken a lead role in convening communities for marine planning discussions. As momentum grows to recognize the benefits of natural capital and conservation, the Foundation has brought together provincial government officials, local residents, industry leaders and municipalities to develop a regional planning vision. Our upcoming natural capital valuation will reveal the value of nature's services in Howe Sound. We're also working to understand what unites the Sound's diverse communities and the economic development they want to see.

Marine revival speaks to possibility and resilience. With bountiful herring, the first pink salmon fishery set to open next year following decades of closures, and humpback whales making repeat visits, Howe Sound is poised to become a model for long-term sustainable planning.