Duu Guusd Heritage Site/Conservancy is the only protected area on Haida Gwaii with a significant representation of all of Haida Gwaii’s three terrestrial physiographic ecosections (Windward Queen Charlotte Mountains, Skidegate Plateau and Queen Charlotte Lowlands). Some unusual geological features include Pillar Rock, Beehive Hill and Celestial Bluff. The basaltic formations and mountain ranges like the Cameron Range combined with very wet hypermaritime climate has led to extensive non-forested alpine and wetlands that often extend to the coast.
There are 18 estuaries in the heritage site/conservancy that spill into some of the most productive marine habitat on Haida Gwaii. This coastline accounts for over 9 percent of the Herring spawning area (by length of coast) for Haida Gwaii, 35 percent of the occurrences of kelp forests, and significant eel grass beds. Duu Guusd Heritage Site/Conservancy contains 18 of percent Haida Gwaii’s fish-bearing freshwater, and streams such as Haines, Jalun and Coates are known to host coho salmon, chum salmon, pink salmon, sockeye salmon, Dolly Varden, steelhead, rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, stickleback, coastrange sculpin and slimy sculpin.
The area hosts numerous listed species including 73 known Peregrine Falcon nest sites (red listed). Important nesting and foraging habitat can be found within this heritage site/conservancy for northern saw-whet owls (Riley Creek – blue listed), northern goshawks (red listed), marbled murrelets (red listed), ancient murrelet (blue listed), and cassin’s auklet (blue listed).
Eighty-eight recorded archaeological sites contain an impressive number of cultural items. These include at least 491 known culturally modified trees, shell middens, cobble tools, aboriginal logged trees, cambium stripped hemlock, lithics, cultural depressions, canoes, fire broken rock, habitation features, caves, human remains, smokehouses, cedar withes, rock shelters, house depressions, burial sites, burial boxes, burial houses, carved figures and planked trees. Many of these areas have not been inventoried thoroughly which indicates that the heritage site/conservancy likely contains many other unrecorded cultural heritage and archaeological sites.
The cultural heritage values in the heritage site/conservancy include opportunities for the ongoing continuance of Haida culture through traditional use of the area. Some examples of traditional use within Duu Guusd Heritage Site/Conservancy may include monumental cedar and cedar bark harvesting, seaweed harvesting, medicinal plant harvesting, hunting, fishing, trapping and food gathering. The heritage site/conservancy also provides a place for the physical expression of culture through monumental art such as totems or establishment of traditional style infrastructure such as longhouses.
The remote location of Duu Guusd Heritage Site/Conservancy provides an excellent opportunity to maintain biological diversity and natural environment values. Of concern, though, is the presence of introduced mammals of which raccoons, Norway rats and black-tailed deer pose a threat to local ecosystems. There is also occurrence of sowthistle, a non-native invasive plant, in the heritage site/conservancy.