What are Garry oak ecosystems?

Garry oak trees at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site

Garry oak ecosystems are ecosystems where Garry oak trees naturally occur. Climate, soil type and depth, slope, aspect, disturbance history, and other factors have created many different habitats within Garry oak ecosystems. These ecosystems consist of a mosaic of open and closed woodlands, moist flat meadows and grasslands, scattered stands of transitional forests and dry rocky outcrops with shallow soils.

These ecosystems are important not only for their great beauty, but also for their biological diversity. Together, Garry oak and associated ecosystems are home to more plant species than any other terrestrial ecosystem in coastal British Columbia , many of which occur no where else in Canada !

Where are the Garry oak ecosystems found?

Globally, Garry oak ecosystems have an extensive north-south range, from southwest British Columbia to southern California . In Canada , Garry oak ecosystems are found only in British Columbia - almost exclusively along the coast of southeast Vancouver Island , as well as in the nearby Gulf Islands and in two small stands in the Fraser River Valley . A significant amount of Canadian Garry oak ecosystems are found in Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites and Gulf Islands National Park Reserve.

What's so special about Garry oak ecosystems?

Deltoid balsamroot, a rare plant that lives in Garry oak ecosystems

Garry oak ecosystems are home to more than 90 species that have been designated at risk in British Columbia. Of these species, 23 are threatened or endangered globally and 21 are listed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) as being at risk nationally.

Within the Garry oak and associated ecosystems in coastal British Columbia almost 700 plant species have been identified! These ecosystems also provide a home for 7 amphibians, 7 reptiles, more than 100 birds and 33 mammals and more than 800 insect and mite species.