Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Reserve



       Region/Province/ or State

British Columbia

       Web Address

       Date Founded

   Size (hectares)


       Distinguishing Features

temperate rainforest

       Main Industries (in terms of employment)

silviculture, fishery, ecotourism

For decades, Clayoquot Sound has been on the international stage. Conflict over the use of our natural resources created divisions that continue to heal. Confronted with declining natural resource stocks, but a continued need to make a living from forestry and fishing activities, local community members started seeking better and alternative ways of doing things.

In the 1990s, a small but passionate group of individuals began considering the UNESCO Biosphere Region model.

In January 2000, with the support of local First Nations, communities, and the federal and provincial governments, Clayoquot Sound was designated as the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region (CSUBR). The CSUBR is a member of the international network of UNESCO World Biosphere Regions. The CSUBR designation acknowledges aboriginal title and rights, and does not prejudice ongoing treaty negotiations.

To mark this designation, in May 2000 the federal government entrusted a $12 million grant to Clayoquot Sound communities through the creation of the Canada Fund. The Clayoquot Biosphere Trust manages this endowment fund to uphold the spirit and intent of the biosphere region designation through innovative education programs, research into sustainability and celebrating the unique ecosystems of Clayoquot Sound.

A detailed timeline of the steps that led to the creation of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region can be found here.

UNESCO Nomination

In January 1999, the communities of the Clayoquot Sound region, in partnership with federal and provincial governments, officially applied to UNESCO through the Canadian Commission for UNESCO to nominate Clayoquot Sound as BC’s first World Biosphere Region.

UNESCO Designation

In January 2000, Clayoquot Sound was designated for inclusion in the World Network of Biosphere Region.

Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region 10 Year Review

This is the first periodic review done for the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region. Reviews are done every 10 years on every Biosphere Region in Canada. Check out more information on periodic reviews here.


The Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region is situated in the coastal temperate rainforest on the west coast of Canada. A diverse range of ecosystems exist within the region’s boundaries; these ecosystems include ancient temperate rainforest, large and small lakes, rivers and streams, alpine peaks, open ocean, rocky coastal shores, long sand beaches, estuaries and mud flats.

With the continued development in temperate rainforests worldwide, these areas are of increased global ecological significance. Some watersheds in the region have been extensively logged in the past fifty years and others have been subject to human activity. The region includes five small coastal communities, with several other communities bordering the region.

The marine and terrestrial components of the Biosphere Region provide habitat for many species, a significant number of which are endangered or rare. Clayoquot Sound provides vital feeding, breeding and staging habitat for resident, migrating and transient populations of birds, marine mammals, fish, terrestrial mammals and other species. Development in Clayoquot Sound sometimes results in the fragmentation of forest and alpine ecosystems and the loss of biological diversity in coastal rainforests. The core areas of the Biosphere Region are a refuge for the natural dispersion and re-establishment of species.


The Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Region guiding principle is the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations philosophy Hishuk ish ts’awalk or “everything is one. Hishuk ish ts’awalk represents the interconnections between ourselves and the ecosystems that we live within.

Eight communities care for the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region.  Through participation with the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust and other organizations throughout the biosphere region, members of these eight communities foster our relationship with our environment, helping us build a better, more sustainable future.

The following communities are a part of the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region. If you are a researcher or teacher visiting the region, you may find our Education Asset Inventory a useful resource.

Ahousaht First Nation

The largest of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations, the Ahousaht First Nation is located along Vancouver Island’s west coast north of Tofino. Ahousaht is from a Nootka word probably meaning “facing opposite from the ocean” or “people living with their backs to the mountains”. Its vision is self-government that promotes strong, healthy communities, which are guided by n’aas (Creator) and Haw’iih (Hereditary Chiefs). Ahousaht is also home to Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District

The Regional District is responsible for community and development services that encompass the Tofino area to the north, Bamfield area to the south and the Alberni Valley in the middle. As a regional authority, it works collaboratively with provincial ministries, municipal governments and First Nations.

District of Tofino

Tofino is a community of approximately 1,750 people, located on the Esowista Peninsula of Clayoquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  The town is surrounded by coastal temperate rainforests and includes a number of sandy beaches. Despite its small permanent population, Tofino draws hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, making it one of British Columbia’s most popular vacation destinations.

District of Ucluelet

Ucluelet is a community of approximately 1,650 people south of the formal UNESCO Clayoquot Sound Biosphere designated area, and an integral component of the region’s community fabric.  It provides easy access to Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands Unit of Pacific Rim National Park. This award-winning community is becoming a major tourist destination while providing quality services and amenities for permanent residents, including a new community centre.  Ucluelet hosts numerous cultural festivities and offers diverse recreational opportunities to both locals and residents.

Hesquiaht First Nation

Hesquiaht is the most remote and northerly of the Nuu-chah-Nulth First Nations in Clayoquot Sound, comprising approximately 40 homes and about 100 people.  The Nation has recently constructed a “green” school and has committed to being a zero net energy community. In addition to the well-known natural hot springs at the aptly-named Hot Springs Cove and colonial site of Cougar Annie’s Gardens, the Nation is becoming a leader in local food security and food independence initiatives.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation

The Tla-o-qui-aht Nation has two main communities: Esowista which abuts the Pacific Rim National Park outside of Tofino; and Opitsaht, on Meares Island.  The Nation is in the midst of an expansion at Esowista and is focused on sustainable economic development. It operates an award-winning resort-hotel and has established Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks and watersheds in Tla-o-qui-aht traditional territory.  Tla-o-qui-aht has managed to balance human and ecosystem well-being in their operations, as taught by Tla-o-qui-aht ancestors and adapted to today’s world.

Toquaht First Nation

The Toquaht are the “people of the narrow channel” or “people of the narrow place in front.”  The smallest of the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations (135 people), its seven traditional village sites cover 196 hectares, south of the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere designated area. Macoah, the main community, is located west of Toquaht Bay on the North side of Barkley Sound.  In addition to forestry and fishing activities, the Toquaht Nation operates a campground and marina.


The territory of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ government includes nine traditional sites on the northwest side of Barkley Sound, south of the Clayoquot Sound Biosphere designated area. The main village of Hitacu (Ittatsoo), with a population of approximately 200 residents, is located 28 kilometres from Ucluelet.  The Nation’s vision statement emphasizes environmental stewardship, safe housing, education and economic independence, as well as healthy relationships with other neighbours and governments.


The Clayoquot Sound Biosphere Region is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, Canada. In addition to the UNESCO Biosphere designated area, as a community foundation, the CBT serves all communities of the west coast region. We acknowledge the traditional territories of Hesquiaht First Nation, Tla-o-qui–aht First Nations, Toquaht Nation, Ahousaht, and Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ in the spirit of truth, healing, and reconciliation.


Reference: About the Region