›› Laura Benoit

As we continue to stay close to home this summer, many of us have been exploring the wilderness of the Island. Looking for some guidance on how to preserve the beautiful land that we live on? Look no further than the Wilderness Committee, a non-profit organization located at 1501 Haultain Street in Fernwood.

“We advocate for solutions to a whole range of threats to the environment across Canada,” says Torrance Coste, National Campaign Director. “We were founded here in Victoria forty years ago. Now, we have offices in Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Toronto too.”

The Committee was thrilled to move to Fernwood last December. “We were so excited to a part of the Fernwood neighbourhood, particularly because our new space is accessible,” Coste says. “We get so many folks who visit us in person, to learn more or to purchase one of our calendars.”

With the pandemic putting in-person visits on hold, the organization has focused on mobilizing people digitally. “Spring and summer are when we usually do most of our field work,” explains Coste. “We’re finding creative ways to continue to inform. Rather than hosting a rally, we ask folks to contact their local MLA to protect old growth. And we will be hosting a webinar series later this summer and fall.”

As we explore the Island’s wilderness, Coste says there are some important things to keep in mind. It is critical to follow all ­public health guidelines for travel, in particular being knowledgeable of which First Nations territory you may be in. “It is so important to look up any area you are traveling to,” Coste says. Additionally, stick to trails in old growth forests. Many of these forests have been ­preserved due to the work of organizations such as the Wilderness Committee. Finally, Coste says, don’t forget to pay it forward. You can learn how to take action and speak up on the Committee’s website.

“We are really excited to see our neighbours face to face,” says Coste. “Until that day comes, you can always reach us online.” Visit the ­Committee at ­wildernesscommittee.org, or on ­Facebook at @wildernesscommittee.