Skip to content

Galiano Island’s ecological footprint swells from tourism: study

Community’s footprint ‘much larger’ than other B.C. locales
A community of 1,396, Galiano Island saw an estimated 80,200 visitors in 2007 (John McKinley file)

Galiano Island is the first island community in North America to document its ecological footprint, which is substantially larger than other B.C. communities.

The ecological footprint tool calculates the amount of land and water needed to produce resources consumed and absorb waste generated.

The One Island, One Earth study was pioneered by the Galiano Conservancy Association, an environmental charity on the island. It set out to answer the question: “Is the Galiano Island community living sustainably within and relative to the resources provided by Galiano Island?”

The survey found Galiano’s footprint eclipses the resources of its ecosystem by 29 per cent.

Its footprint is 18.6 per cent larger per capita than Vancouver and Victoria, and 153 per cent larger than the global average.

The size of the footprint may be due to seasonal tourism and part-time residents, according to the study.

The community of 1,396 saw an estimated 80,200 visitors in 2007. The study estimates this doubles Galiano Island’s ecological footprint.

The study said “population increases inevitably contribute to the total footprint of a community, but if approached with sustainability in mind, population growth can reduce per capita footprints in a small community.”

In order to do that, the study recommends adopting an action plan for the island, or a regional plan with other islands to determine the best organizations to help reduce its footprint.

“In an era of climate anxiety and at a time when small-scale actions may seem insignificant, the project seeks to inspire and inform collective action at the community level,” the study stated.