Despite the natural beauty and resource abundance of Clayoquot Sound, concerns about environmental degradation are rife among local residents, according to a survey conducted by McAllister Opinion Research and commissioned by Ecotrust Canada.

Clayoquot Community Survey
Ecotrust Canada commissioned McAllister Opinion Research to conduct a survey of Clayoquot Sound-Pacific Rim residents in late 2008/early 2009. The main purpose of the research is to gain a richer understanding of local communities to better inform our efforts and outreach in the region. The random sample survey of 303  residents has a margin of error of ±5.1%, 19 times out of 20.  Click here to read about the survey’s methodology.

Clayoquot Communities Map
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Survey Contents
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When it comes to the environment, residents of Clayoquot Sound and surrounding communities worry most about the resources on which they depend to make a living. Residents say they are the most concerned about the depletion of ocean fish stocks (88 percent are very concerned), followed by loss or extinction of terrestrial wildlife (78 percent) as well as clear-cutting of forests (78 percent).

The majority are also very concerned about natural resource depletion (76 percent), water pollution (74 percent), overconsumption and waste (71 percent), toxic chemicals (66 percent), salmon farming (65 percent), global warming (65 percent) and air pollution (57 percent).

The random sample survey of 303 residents has a margin of error of 5.1 percent, 19 times out of 20. Interviews were conducted with residents in Tofino, Ucluelet, Ahousat, Itatsoo, Hot Springs Cove, Esowista and Opitsat. The survey was conducted between December 2008 and March 2009.

Ecotrust Canada is releasing results of the survey, which focuses on the region's sustainability and liveability, in a ten-part series of articles and blog postings over the next several weeks. Ecotrust Canada's purpose is to build the conservation economy in BC's coastal bioregion. The organization has offices in Tofino and Vancouver, and has been working in Clayoquot Sound for more than a decade.

According to the Ecotrust/McAllister survey, First Nations on average are more concerned than Tofino/Ucluelet residents about specific issues like wildlife, clear-cutting of forests, natural resource depletion, global warming, water pollution, air pollution and salmon farming. Tofino/Ucluelet residents tended to express greater concern about toxic chemicals, over consumption and waste. However, all residents express equally high levels of concern about depletion of ocean fish stocks, a resource on which many in the region base their livelihood.

Although residents with university or college education tend to express greater concern than those with high school or less education, interestingly First Nation residents express significantly more concern than other residents across all educational groups, especially when it comes to loss of wildlife, global warming, clear-cutting and salmon farming.

Young adults under age 35 are the most concerned of all age groups about the clear-cutting of forests. They are also just as concerned as those aged 35-54 about depletion of ocean fish stocks, global warming and water pollution. Interestingly, residents aged 55 and up expressed the least concern about a variety of environmental issues with the exception of depletion of ocean fish stocks and global warming. When it comes to these issues they are just as concerned as younger generations.

Clayoquot residents did not identify global warming as a major concern. That is, perhaps, because there is some confusion about the causes of climate change. When asked if they could identify the primary cause of global warming from a list of factors, only 35 percent of residents of Clayoquot Sound and surrounding communities correctly identified carbon dioxide emissions. Other answers included deforestation (2 percent), humans in general (6 percent) and a combination of these two (13 percent). Eleven percent of respondents admitted to not knowing the cause of global warming.

Those living in Tofino are the most likely to get this question correct (43 percent), closely followed by Ucluelet residents (40 percent). Only sixteen percent of all First Nations communities correctly say carbon dioxide emissions are the primary cause of global warming and Ahousat residents (20 percent) are the most likely to admit to not knowing.

Ecotrust Canada commissioned the Clayoquot Community Survey to gain a richer understanding of the concerns and issues of local communities regarding the region's sustainable development. Next week, Ecotrust Canada will be releasing results how local residents rate the sustainability of their respective communities in and around Clayoquot Sound.

Please comment on the survey findings. See the comment box below.