Volunteer Miaoju Hsu enjoys her work with the Greater Victoria Green Team. (Photo courtesy of Greater Victoria Green Team)

Greater Victoria Green Team a cleanup machine

Volunteers needed Dec. 8 in Portage Inlet

Rick Stiebel/News staff

Although invasive species are a growing concern in the Capital Region, volunteers on the Greater Victoria Green Team take a hands-on approach to helping protect sensitive ecosystems.

Nineteen people, including GVGT staff and volunteers, mulched a large section of the Atkins restoration area along the Galloping Goose Trail on Sunday, Dec. 2 to help quell the havoc wreaked by the evil invader, St. Johns Wort.

The work was a collaborative effort involving the GVGT, The Land Conservancy of BC and CRD Parks, said Amanda Evans, program manager for the GVGT.

“We are partnering with The Land Conservancy to enhance ecologically sensitive lands, build community and raise awareness,” she explained. “When agencies who have similar goals work together, they can be far more effective.”

Participating as a volunteer is a great way to meet people, learn about various projects and organizations working on environmental activities, get active outdoors and contribute to the health of urban ecosystems, Evans noted.

RELATED: Cigarette butts the main culprit in lagoon beach cleanup

Karen Iwachow, conservation programs co-ordinator for TLC, said the goal of the Atkins restoration at the Atkins Road Covenant is to remove invasive species which have been out-competing the naturally occurring ones characteristic to the increasingly rare Garry Oak ecosystem. “Our target is what’s commonly known as Aaron’s beard or St. John’s Wort.”

Volunteers employ the lasagna gardening method, which starves the invasive plant from sunlight by laying alternating layers of cardboard and mulch on top of it. “With time, the cardboard and mulch break down, providing a fresh layer of nutrient-rich soil for native species to repopulate the area,” she explained.

RELATED: Green Team program encourages students to be stewards of environmental

Volunteer Tegan McDonald said she thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to help restore an area. “It was nice to get out and see a new place while hanging out with some good people,” she added.

Fellow volunteer Simon Bluck said volunteering allows people to see areas of great natural beauty they might not see otherwise. “Tackling invasive species is so important to try and maintain the health of Canada’s native plants,” he noted.

The GVGT needs volunteers for its last volunteer effort of the season from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 in Portage Park. Work will include removing invasive ivy and planting native trees. Volunteers are asked to gather in the lower parking lot to the left of View Royal Town Hall at 45 View Royal Ave.

For more on the GVGT, check out greenteamscanada.ca, and conservancy.bc.ca for more on the TLC.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

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