The Hakai Institute is a scientific research institution that conducts long-term research at remote locations on the coastal margin of British Columbia, Canada.
The name Hakai is inspired by the Hakai Lúxvbálís Conservancy, the largest marine protected area on the BC coast, located about 400 kilometers north of Vancouver.
The Hakai Institute includes the following elements:
- Calvert Ecological Observatory on the BC Central Coast
- Quadra Ecological Observatory at the northern end of the Strait of Georgia
- The Institute’s own scientific research staff and equipment
- A large network of affiliated faculty and other collaborators at universities, government agencies, and First Nations
The Hakai Institute aspires to follow in the footsteps of such organizations as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, and Australia’s Davis Station in Antarctica.
Our research is inspired by Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network, originally launched by the US National Science Foundation in 1980. We pool our information with other coastal research sites—most notably in BC, Alaska, Washington, and Oregon—to gain an understanding of the dynamics of the broader landscape.
There are now hundreds of sites in representative ecosystems worldwide, all taking the same general approach:
- Choose a tractable study area
- Study it long-term (on the order of decades)
- Study it year-round
- Study many factors & their interactions
- Take particular note of how these factors change over time
Given the unique nature of our study area on the coastal margins of British Columbia, our scope includes:
- The history of ecological change since the region became ice-free roughly 15,000 years ago
- The influence of humans on the landscape
The main work of the Hakai Institute began in 2009 with the purchase of the former Hakai Beach Resort fishing lodge on Calvert Island, but the roots of the organization extend back to the early 2000s. Read more about the history of the Hakai Institute.
The coastal margins of British Columbia, Canada are among the most productive areas in the world. Water flowing from the glaciers, snow packs, forests, and bogs of the temperate rainforest pours massive quantities of inorganic and organic nutrients into the surrounding estuaries and inlets. This nutrient-rich cocktail drives primary production, which in turn fuels complex marine food webs.
Coastal productivity and biodiversity have also served as a magnet for settlement since humans first came to the coast. For millennia, humans have depended on the coast for travel, work, sustenance—all the elements of life—which remains true today.
The Hakai Institute currently operates two ecological observatories, one on Calvert Island on the remote BC Central Coast and one on Quadra Island at the northern end of the Strait of Georgia.
The Hakai Institute is also involved in community-based initiatives with our neighbouring First Nations for fostering leadership, technical capacity, and local programs.
In Spring 2015, we launched Hakai Magazine, an editorially-independent on-line publication that explores science, society, and the environment in compelling narratives to highlight coastal life and phenomena.
Environmental Law Centre
We are proud to be associated with the Environmental Law Centre (ELC), home of Canada’s first environmental law clinical program. The ELC attracts some of the country’s best and brightest aspiring public interest environmental lawyers. Since 2006, the Tula Foundation has been the sustaining funder of the ELC.
The ELC has worked for community groups, conservation organizations, and First Nations across British Columbia, building the legal capacity to tackle today’s complex environmental challenges. The ELC is a strong advocate for environmental law reform, provides vigorous representation to clients before courts and tribunals, and is actively engaged in public legal education and outreach on environmental issues. Today’s ELC students are tomorrow’s lawyers for the environment.
The founding executive director of the ELC is Professor Chris Tollefson. Its legal staff includes some of BC’s top public interest environmental lawyers including Professors Calvin Sandborn, Deborah Curran, and Mark Haddock.