A young volunteer pulls broom at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve. (Nature Conservancy of Canada photo)

Coming up in Cowichan: Garry Oak Marathon is back

Conservation workshop part of Garry Oak Meadow Marathon

The Garry Oak Meadow Marathon is back.

Throughout February and March parks and conservation groups across southern Vancouver Island, including Cowichan, are hosting volunteer events to get the Garry oak meadows ready for spring.

The multi-partner Garry Oak Meadow Marathon aims to raise awareness and support restoration efforts of the unique and sensitive Garry oak habitats of southern Vancouver Island.

The Garry Oak Meadow Marathon rallies volunteer energy around the important work of restoring a local endangered ecosystem. With more than 30 events ranging from bashing broom and eradicating ivy, to tending native seedlings and learning at specialized workshops, both new and experienced volunteers can get involved in helping to restore Garry oak habitats in their community.

Events take place during the week and on weekends in many public and private conservation lands that feature Garry oak habitats. Cross-pollination is encouraged. Volunteers who come to events at three or more different sites will be entered into a draw to win nature prizes.

Events are being hosted by Saanich Parks, Saanich Native Plants, Haliburton Farm, Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary, Greater Victoria Green Teams, CRD Regional Parks, Parks Canada, Habitat Acquisition Trust, the Friends of Uplands Park, Salt Spring Island Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. For more information and to find the full listing of Garry Oak Meadow Marathon events visit www.natureconservancy.ca/meadowmarathon.

In Cowichan, head out to the Garry Oak Conservation Workshop at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve, hosted by the Nature Conservancy of Canada on March 10.

This free workshop is perfect for anyone interested in honing their skills in restoring and maintaining Garry oak habitats. Come learn from leading experts about the ecosystem and the endangered species that rely on them, native plant propagation techniques, proper uses of tools and restoration management plans.

To register go to events.natureconservancy.ca.

Upcoming “Weedy Wednesday” volunteer events at the preserve are taking place on Feb. 13 and Feb. 27, 9 a.m. to noon. New volunteers join veteran preserve stewards to tend to the native plant nursery, invasive removal in the meadows and other seasonal restoration activities.

Why is this important? Much of the historic range of Garry oak habitat has been lost to development, with less than five per cent remaining in a near-natural condition. Invasive species such as Scotch broom, English ivy and spurge-laurel pose a serious threat to remaining tracts of Garry oak habitat. However, conservation management bolstered by volunteer efforts is making a significant impact in restoring and conserving this important ecosystem.

Garry oak habitats range from woodlands to open meadows and are home to a greater diversity of plants than any other terrestrial ecosystem in British Columbia.

 

Volunteers enjoy a seeding demonstration at the Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve. (Nature Conservancy of Canada photo)

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