You are here

Working Towards “One Planet” by Measuring Galiano Island’s Ecological Footprint

The Galiano Conservancy Association is using data specific to island communities in BC to find the best ways to address the climate crisis in their community
Hand holding up the One Island, One Earth poster

How do we take the first step towards tackling the climate crisis? That’s what staff at the Galiano Conservancy Association were asking themselves when they came up with the One Island, One Earth project, which received a Systems Change Grant from Vancouver Foundation in 2020.

 In 2019, the Islands Trust, which governs 450 islands located in the Salish Sea,  declared a climate emergency. The Galiano Conservancy Association, which has a mandate to protect, steward, and restore the ecosystems on Galiano Island, knew it needed to take action—but it didn’t know how to identify the best way to move forward.

“We found that we really didn’t have a baseline,” says Michelle Thompson, Galiano Conservancy Association’s Conservation and Climate Coordinator. “There wasn’t much data available for the Southern Gulf Islands. So we looked around to see different methodologies that have been used to compare communities, and we came across the BCIT Centre for Ecocities’ methodology of the Ecological Footprint.” 

Seeing that the methodology was geared towards urban centres, and therefore wasn’t going to work for Galiano Island, the Galiano Conservancy Association decided to work with BCIT to develop a methodology that was specific to measuring the consumption levels of local island communities. They aimed to answer the question: “Is the Galiano Island community living sustainably within and relative to the resources provided by Galiano Island?”


Listening to community’s attitudes and values  

 The Galiano Conservancy Association recognized that its question could not be answered by quantitative data alone. It also decided to measure the island’s Ecological Fingerprint, which is a method of understanding the community’s attitudes and values in relation  to climate change and consumption.

“We conducted interviews with long-term community members  and asked questions like, ‘What environmental change have you seen in your lifetime?’ and ‘Where do you think Galiano is going?’” says Thompson.

“The theory behind that is: we can have all of the answers for climate change, but if no one is willing to make the lifestyle changes, then we’re back to square one. So we’re trying to find out what areas people are more willing to adapt to change.” 

The path to living within our ecological means     

In June 2022, the Galiano Conservancy Association released their One Island, One Earth report, which found that the “equivalent of 4.3 ‘Earths’ would be required to support the lifestyle of the Galiano Island Community” if everyone else on the planet also shared a similar lifestyle. Since then, the Galiano Conservancy Association has shared their data with many organizations in the Southern Gulf Islands, so that it can be used as a baseline or model for research in other island communities, as well as a tool to aid policymaking.

“In the end, BCIT  provided us with some hard numbers and stats saying: if you want to get down to a One Planet scenario, this is what Galiano needs to do,” says Thompson. The One Planet scenario provides solutions and guidance for living within our means or using the resources of only one Earth. “We also took all of the themes from our interviews and tried to match them up to see where the community would be willing to take some of these recommendations on.”

Rather than setting hard number goals, the Galiano Conservancy Association works with members of the community to learn what next steps are most pressing and most achievable, and then assist them in taking those steps. This could look like installing composting toilets or finding subsidies for rainwater harvesting.

“We’re letting people share the areas they’re willing to change and what they think is possible within the next ten to fifteen years.”

Learn more about Galiano Conservancy Association

            Find more information about the Galiano Conservancy Association and the  One Island,  One Earth project at, or on Facebook and Instagram @galianoconservancy.


Post Type: