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Ecosystem restoration

The Garry Oak Learning Meadow

Transcript

Parks Canada logo.

Garry Oak Learning Meadow.

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites.

[Shots of the Garry Oak Learning Meadow's plants and trees.]

Garry oak ecosystems are a really special ecosystem, and we like to call them an eco-cultural landscape.

‘Eco’ meaning ecological, and ‘cultural’ because of their longstanding significance to the Coast Salish First Nations.

The Coast Salish First Nations coexisted with Garry oak ecosystems for thousands of years.

We can think of them really as Coast Salish gardens.

It’s a very unique ecosystem in Canada. There’s literally over 900 species of plants, so it’s a very biodiverse ecosystem.

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Aimée Pelletier. Species at Risk Communications Officer. Parks Canada.

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[Aimée Pelletier is standing in the Garry Oak Learning Meadow, surrounded by flowering plants.]

Unfortunately, here on Southern Vancouver Island there’s only 5% remaining of the original range of Garry oak ecosystems.

And that has a lot to do with forestry practices, with conversion of meadow lands to agriculture,

with the fact that it’s a very lovely place to live, so people like to build their houses here,

and also because there’s a lot of invasive species.

[Wide shot of the Garry Oak Learning Meadow in bloom.]

So what we wanted to do here was create one acre of Garry oak habitat.

[Photographs of buttercup, blue camas and pink seablush.]

What you see here is a typical mix for a Garry oak ecosystem.

We’ve got lots of - this yellow stuff here is all buttercup, blue camas, you can see some pink seablush back there.

Those are sort of the dominant, iconic species of the Garry oak meadows,

and then there’s probably about 50 other species that we have in here too.

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Cheryl Bryce. Songhees Nation.

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[Cheryl Bryce is standing in a field in the Garry Oak Learning Meadow.]

Everything has a very strong connection, but they also have a use. So, there’s so many things:

There’s food resources here, there’s tool making resources here, it’s a home for many things as well.

[Close-up photographs of various plant species in the Garry oak ecosystem.]

They’re all important as far as making sure the whole system thrives. I refer to it as a food system.

So, everything needs each other to fully thrive. And it needs us too. We’re a part of that food system.

[Narrative returns to Aimée Pelletier.]

When I started with this project, this acre here that you see, which is full of wildflowers now, was just a lawn.

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Nathan Fisk. Resource Management Officer. Parks Canada.

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[Nathan Fisk is standing in front of an interperetive panel in the Garry Oak Learning Meadow.]

The first few years were just about building up the soil. Mostly everything inside the meadow was planted,

starting with the big shrubs and then moving on to the grasses and the flowering plants.

[Sequence of images showing the initial stages of the learning meadow's development: Mulch is laid down on the lawn, volunteers spread the mulch, the first plants and shrubs are planted.]

The work that’s going on now, we’re sort of evolving away beyond the common species

and towards more of the rare species, a lot of the species that were identified in the recovery strategies.

[Images of plants growning in the gardening nursery.]

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Susan MacIsaac. Species at Risk Communications Officer. Parks Canada.

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[Susan MacIsaac is standing in a field in the Garry Oak Learning Meadow.]

Volunteers have always been a huge part of the success of this program. They've helped do everything

from plant the actual plants into the ground, to mulching everything, making sure the ground was prepared.

[Footage of volunteers digging through mulch and planting small plants.]

It’s amazing to see what can be done in an area that was just lawn. So, this whole area used to be just grass,

[Images of plants and animals in the Garry Oak Learning Meadow: A robin, a racoon, a bee, a hummingbird, a hawk and a butterfly.]

and now it’s this diverse ecosystem that’s attracting so many other species to it.

They’re all coming into this meadow because there’s so much food, so much shelter, so much diversity here.

So it’s really neat to see nature coming back.

[Narrative returns to Cheryl Bryce.]

[Panoramic shots of the Garry Oak Learning Meadow.]

Coming in here, you see the urgent need of having to make sure this is here for future generations.

And development is the hugest impact, of course, to a lot of the old ecosystems.

There’s very few places you can find them, and they’re very fragmented when you find them.

So having these in place shows people they can do this in their backyard.

It’s knowledge that’s important to pass on to create awareness and to show that it’s really in an urgent state,

that we need to be protecting but also reinstating a lot of these very, very important food systems.

[Images of visitors exploring the Garry Oak Learning Meadow.]

So if you want to come and learn about nature or conservation in action,

Parks Canada’s Garry Oak Learning Meadow at Fort Rodd Hill has something for everyone, and it’s definitely worth a visit.

Visit ParksCanada.ca/FortRoddHill to plan a visit or volunteer for the Garry Oak Learning Meadow.

Parks Canada logo.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Parks Canada, 2017.

Canada wordmark.

Parks Canada is restoring endangered Garry oak ecosystems at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site by removing invasive plants and replacing them with the native species that are normally found there. Plants such as Scotch broom and spurge-laurel were introduced from other parts of the world and compete with native plants for important habitat. They often win out unless they are kept in check.

Learn more about battling invasive species in Garry Oak ecosystems.

Who we're looking for

  • You are enthusiastic about nature/gardening and enjoy spending time outside
  • You like working as part of a team and are willing to learn.
  • You have a reasonable degree of fitness.

What you’ll be doing

  • Pulling weeds out of the ground by hand.
  • Using small hand tools such as loppers.
  • Sorting and planting Camas bulbs and seedlings.

How you’ll make a difference

You will contribute to Parks Canada’s important work to restore some of the rarest ecosystems in Canada, which are home to more than 100 rare and endangered plant and animal species.

What’s in it for you?

  • Learn about Garry oak ecosystems and native plant species.
  • Gain valuable field experience and build your resume.
  • Meet like-minded people.

Time commitment

Work takes place from 10 am to 3 pm on Saturdays. Here are upcoming dates for 2019:

  • January 19 & 26
  • February 9 (cancelled due to weather)
  • February 23
  • March 23

For more information email or call us at 250-812-8133.


Other Parks Canada opportunities

For information on opportunities at other Parks Canada places on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and across the country, click on the links below.