Paradise found

F rom the Salish Sea to Haida Gwaii, the Great Bear Rainforest and Clayoquot Sound, Canada’s Pacific coast connects us with the planet in ways few places can. Its ancient temperate rainforests, rich marine life and raw beauty draw us into an experience with nature in its truest form. For many, paradise is found where the salmon meet the salt water.

This link between people and planet is the theme of our first issue of Heartwood. The stories we tell and the way we talk about environmental issues really do matter, and Heartwood aspires to share the narratives, knowledge and talent of those working to that end.

We hope you join us each issue as we meet artists whose work seeks to deepen our bonds with nature and profile mavens—trusted experts of change that shape our relationship with the living world—as well as examine the issues facing conservation, and so much more.

As a platform to share our stories and celebrate our accomplishments, Heartwood aims to support a community focused on preserving that irreplaceable salt water paradise.


Coastal Inspiration

Ian McAllister acts from the heart when creating images that inspire us to respond to the Great Bear Rainforest and Pacific north coast

“I don’t think I have ever seen anyone leave this this coast not feeling inspired to want to do something to protect it.”

How long have you been documenting life on this coast? What changes have you experienced both in the environment around you and the ways in which you frame it?

I’ve been doing this for many years, a quarter of a century. The beauty of conservation photography and film work is that we can now uncover worlds that were largely inaccessible before. There is more innovative technology to assist us in better understanding the ecology of this coast. We can document underwater, above water – in the air – so many of the frontiers of the Great Bear Rainforest. And that technology did not exist even a few short years ago.

In terms of the environment, there’s more people here. Tourism is a two-edged sword, it increasingly provides local communities with more jobs and economic opportunities while at the same time it increases human traffic that has an impact on human culture, wildlife, and ecosystems. If we want to maintain the values that this coast represents, there will eventually have to be a limit on how many people visit these sensitive river valleys.

What came first – your passion for photography or the Great Bear Rainforest? How did these connect so clearly in your mind?

Photography became an important conservation tool for me at an early age. Having grown up on the west coast of Vancouver Island surrounded by the brutal destruction of most of the island’s ancient forest, it seemed like our best hope was to try something different on our north coast. People first needed to see what the place looked like and that is where film and photography became a key part of our early conservation efforts in the Great Bear. Representing visual justice to this coast through a lens will always be a challenge, there is always a deep element missing when trying to put images and words to something that should be seen and felt.

The Great Bear Rainforest is the world’s largest remaining temperate rainforest. It stretches from northern Vancouver Island to southern Alaska.

How do you feel the environmental sector can communicate more effectively?

Oh there’s so many ways. You know I think that we’re often searching for complicated and elaborate ways to describe this coast through human constructs of science and economics and of course these help inform our actions but my experience is that people respond and act from the heart, from something less tangible, but deeper. I think we can communicate how we truly feel for our planet in more frequent and compelling ways. Storytelling travels in many forms and visual imagery is just one example. I get to witness a lot of people who see this place for the first time each year and I don’t think I have ever seen anyone leave this this coast not feeling inspired to want to do something to protect it. They didn’t read a lot of research papers or were told how they should come to that conclusion. So I think simple messages often reach deeper.

Where are your conservation efforts currently focused on?

One of the things that we’ve learned and continue to learn perhaps more than ever is just how much the ocean is fueling and funneling life into the rainforest itself and all of the terrestrial life that benefits from this coast. The fact that Canada, one of the most prosperous nations in the world with the longest coastline in the world still has about 1 percent of its jurisdictional waters protected is an absolute embarrassment and a total failure in our stewardship of what provides us our livelihood, our climate, our weather patterns, so much more. So I think lack of marine protected areas is probably one of the more important issues.

How critical is collaboration to achieving meaningful conservation outcomes?

I couldn’t imagine doing any of this work without a long list of supporters, collaborators, and partners. It’s essential and the list is so long. So many people that play an integral and important role in all of the conservation work that is happening here from the communities that we work with to businesses that support us to individuals who donate to volunteers and interns. It’s a long list, there’s no question.

To learn more about Ian’s work visit and @pacificwild


Little Bear

Inspired by his affinity to bears, artist Chris Austin’s work offers a glimpse into the environment he imagines might be left behind after nature takes it back from us

To view more of his work, visit and @chrisaustinart


Ancient Forest Alliance

 This organization is working to protect the endangered old-growth forests of British Columbia with savvy communication and practical economic solutions

The Ancient Forest Alliance is a non-profit conservation organization founded in 2010 working to protect British Columbia’s endangered old-growth forests and ensure a sustainable second-growth forest industry.

The organization works through public education and research, working with First Nations, businesses, unions, forestry workers, faith organizations, outdoor recreation groups, diverse cultural and linguistic groups, and local environmental groups to achieve its goals.

Undertaking expeditions to document endangered old-growth forests with professional photos and video, outreach to non-traditional allies, organizing public hikes, presentations, and rallies, engaging the news and social media, and producing educational materials and reports, are some of the tactics the Ancient Forest Alliance employs.

To learn more about the the Ancient Forest Alliance visit


West Coast Wild

British Columbia is home to an abundance of wild wonders. Illustrator Pete Ryan highlights a few of the biggest and best with his series of west coast backpack patches

27,200 km

Length of coastline
(including shorelines of islands)


Population of black bears

495 sq km

Largest lake
(Babine Lake)

989,616 ha

Largest provincial park

1,399 km

Longest river


Number of islands

95.8 m

Tallest tree
(Carmanah Giant Sitka spruce)

3,289 m

Highest peak
(Mount Waddington)

440 m

Highest Waterfall
(Della Falls)

To see more of illustrator Pete Ryan’s work visit


Before the Oil

Conservation storyteller Sam Rose Phillips penned the poem Before the Oil in response to oil and gas proposals effecting the waters, forests and communities of the Great Bear Sea. Her words are made more powerful by her images and voice

To learn more about Sam Rose Phillips and her advocacy for the Great Bear Sea visit


True Wilderness

From sea floor to mountaintop, the value of nature at its most pristine is at the heart of Neil Ever Osborne’s work as a conservation photographer documenting protected spaces

Protected spaces, like national parks, conservation areas, and heritage sites, have always been dear to me.

It’s not merely the sanctifying and safeguarding of precious natural land, but the opportunity they present to escape the inundation of technology and connect to the elemental. In these wild places I feel alive in my surroundings, and aware of myself as a physical being. True wilderness is a constant reminder of where we come from, who we are, and that which is really important.

The vista atop Mount Yatza persuades you to see the potential of protected spaces. From up here, you see the value of pristine Pacific Northwest nature, intact mountaintop to sea floor. It doesn’t need a name, nor a border. It just needs to be left as it is. A place that makes us healthier just by being there.

At 2320m above sea level Mount Yatza is one of the highest points in the San Christoval Range on Moresby Island in Gwaii Haanas. The view is endlessly obstructed by fog, but I’d hike the day-long sojourn anytime for the chance at another ephemeral window onto this.

Neil Ever Osborne is a conservation photographer and partner at Evermaven, a full-service communications agency that links people, planet, and profit. To view more of their work visit