Royal Roads University (RRU), School of Environment and Sustainability faculty Dr. Audrey Dallimore and Dr. Leslie King and three of their Masters of Environmental Management students are working in partnership with the Gulf Island National Park Reserve (GINPR) to examine the physical properties of clam gardens and the ways traditional knowledge and western science can come together in the management of these places in the Gulf Islands. The partnership between GINPR and RRU began in 2014 as part of the NSERC PromoScience funded “Learning By the Sea” outreach project which introduces high school, undergraduate and graduate students to Coast Salish clam garden sites and their history through “place based” eco-cultural learning.
To facilitate the physical property studies of clam gardens, RRU graduate student Glenda J. Wyatt is examining paleoenvironmental data from a deep sea core taken from Saanich Inlet in 1996 and reconstructing the paleo-landscape for a series of time slices over the last 10,000 years. She will use existing ancient sea level curves and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) to create models and maps of ancient coastlines and local paleoenvironments surrounding nearshore archaeological features such as clam gardens.
RRU graduate student Malcolm Nicol is working with Audrey and Leslie to characterize the geomorphology and oceanographic setting of two clam gardens in the southern Gulf Islands. Using multibeam ocean floor mapping techniques from a nearshore research boat, along with monitoring seasonal temperature, salinity, oxygen and nutrient (chlorophyll) levels, Malcolm will characterize the physical environmental parameters of the two sites. He will also study how wave and tidal energy regimes and sediment transport interact with clam gardens, and consider how the environmental and tectonic events over the past 10,000 have affected these places.
Carrie McIntosh, another RRU graduate student, is exploring options for managing the two clam garden sites that are the focus of the GINPR Listening to the Sea Looking to the Future project. Her research will investigate governance options for ensuring that governance reflect the values and goals of all interests and brings Western science and traditional knowledge practices together. Carrie’s research project seeks to contribute to the design of new management policy for all clam garden sites within the GINPR and to influence new ways of thinking about managing natural resources in other areas of Canada.