As Vancouver Island’s natural spaces become more developed, plants that are native to this region are increasingly at risk, putting increased pressure on the local natural ecosystem.
According to the World Wildlife Federation’s Living Planet Report Canada, human activities like this have led to massive declines in native species not just in Vancouver – but across the country. To combat this challenge, employees and volunteers at TELUS have stepped up for native species by completing a simple action that can add up to big impact – planting locally sourced, native species in their gardens.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District also reports that imported plants are detrimental to 25% of our endangered species. And because these imported plants are thriving, they’re set to double in number in the next 5 years, causing even more damage to our local ecosystems.
Plant species that are introduced and able to thrive in new environments have a tremendous advantage over their native plant neighbours – no natural predators and pests. Free from the threat of grazing wildlife or aphid infestations, these plants are left to do what they do best- seed and grow.
Each spring TELUS engages in their global volunteer initiative called TELUS Days of Giving (TDOG). This initiative mobilizes thousands of volunteers from the TELUS family to donate their time to social impact organizations and projects in their communities. Many of these are centered around outdoor activities that support a greener and healthier planet.
“When looking at how we could support a greener Canada, we engaged with our partner, the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), and together decided to focus on the impact invasive species have on our environment,” says Ian Himelfarb, a member of the TELUS’ Community Investment team. “We thought one of the best ways to do this was to encourage our team members to grow plants local to their specific area.”
TELUS has joined forces with WWF Canada to encourage their team members to include local species in their gardens. As part of TELUS Days of Giving, Himelfarb’s team is sending out hundreds of packages of seeds to current and retired TELUS employees across the country. Each package contains seeds for native plant species specific to the area that specific employee calls home.
“WWF sources seeds from local breeders, and matches them with the local environment to reduce any negative impact,” explains Himelfarb.
Unlike invasive species, native plants are extremely beneficial to their local ecosystems. These plants have evolved alongside the other living things in their environments. This makes them ideally suited to providing the food, shelter, and even soil chemistry needed to support native insects and animals, and other indigenous plant species. The result is strong natural biodiversity- an interconnected system of natural life that will thrive for years to come.
Native plants are also better suited to the local climate than imported varieties. These native plants know how to maximize the available water, so they won’t require extra watering and irrigation techniques that drain the local water table.
While TELUS team members from across Canada participate in planting seeds for TELUS Days of Giving, Himelfarb notes that employees living on Vancouver Island are strong supporters of the program. There is also a great response from employees in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal.
“It’s a really cool activity that everyone can take part in, no matter where they are,” Himelfarb says. “I got involved with [the seed planting activity] because it’s an easy way to make a tangible positive impact on our environment. After all, we only get one earth”.
To learn more about what TELUS Days of Giving and TELUS’ community investment , visit telus.com/community.
To learn more about invasive and native plant species in Cowichan Valley, visit cvrd.bc.ca/2283/Invasive-Species