Park plays vital biodiversity role

Work of staff and volunteers is crucial to the protection of Uplands Park

Contractor Wylie Thomas (left) and Chris Hyde-Lay

Contractor Wylie Thomas (left) and Chris Hyde-Lay

More than just a pretty place, Uplands Park plays a key role in protecting natural heritage and biodiversity.

Boasting one of the highest concentrations of rare and endangered plants in Canada, the park contains the remnants of a rare ecosystem complex of Garry oak meadows and woodlands, maritime meadows and vernal pools, which used to cover a much greater area in the region.

More than 95 per cent of this habitat has been lost over the last century, said botanist Wylie Thomas who leads the reclamation project for the 32-hectare park.

Twenty-one rare and endangered plants are found in the open meadows and vernal pools of Uplands Park – some of which are found in only one or two other locations in Canada.

“What’s left is quite compromised,” Thomas said.

“These rare plants and ecosystems are under stress, and if we don’t address them now we risk losing an important part of what makes Uplands Park so special. In fact, we have lost at least five rare plant species in the last 20 years, and the populations of several extant species are in decline. We have also lost three rare butterflies since the 1950s.”

Invasive shrubs and trees prefer the same growing conditions as the rare plants, threatening their ability to grow.

Notorious Scotch broom, gorse and carpet burweed are joined by invasive trees slowly crowding the Garry oak, encroaching on the meadows.

Another major concern is trampling by park users both human and animal, particularly in wet weather. Some dogs also dig in the meadows and their owners don’t pick up droppings adding nutrients that favour the invasive plants.

For years, the District of Oak Bay, Friends of Uplands Park and volunteers have worked to mitigate the threats.

With 14 of the rare plants listed with the federal Species at Risk Act, the municipality scored funding from the federal Habitat Stewardship Program for seven of the last 10 years. Last year the $34,000 grant funding allowed for hiring a summer crew to remove invasive species. The district also provided in-kind support and Friends of Uplands Park.

“They did an amazing job last year with about 1,000 hours of volunteer time,” Thomas said of the organization that pulled invasive plants and replanted native ones. Staff and volunteers hauled out more than six truckloads (65 cubic yards) of chipped invasive trees and 15 trucks loads of loose materials such as Scotch broom and ivy.

The plantings came from Saanich Native Plants, donations from Thomas himself grown from seeds collected in the park and donations from other Oak Bay resident botanists and conservation biologists.

They planted 1,500 native plants and bulbs – representing more than 30 species – and sowed about 60,000 seeds. Oak Bay Parks also planted 10 Garry oaks and a native Black Hawthorn.

“From what it was to what it’s become is a real transformation. It’s still got a ways to go but we’re going to get there,” said Chris Hyde-Lay, parks manager.

Look for trail markings near the central meadow as Uplands Park undergoes another season of preservation this spring and summer as part of the ongoing park project.

“Right now it’s hard to say where to walk and that damages camas and rare plants,” Thomas said. “Whatever we do, we don’t want to interfere with people’s enjoyment of the park.”

Future work will see staff and volunteers continue to clear mature invasive trees from the centre of the park where the majority of the rare plants are found, continue to remove the smaller invasive plants from around the meadows and continue to install trail markers to encourage people to stay on paths.

“The goal is to reduce the threats posed by non-native trees and shrubs to levels sufficiently low that subsequent long-term control can be sustained by municipal parks staff and volunteers without additional support from the HSP,” Thomas said.

Learn more about opportunities to volunteer by visiting friendsofuplandspark.org online.

Did you know?

The 14 plants listed under the federal Species at Risk Act are: Purple Sanicle, White-top Aster, Muhlenberg’s Centaury, Kellogg’s Rush, Twisted Oak-moss, Foothill Sedge, Banded Cord-moss, Coast Microseris, Macoun’s Meadowfoam, Tall Wooly-heads, Water-plantain Buttercup, Yellow Montane Violet, Victoria’s Owl-clover and Bearded Owl-clover. There are another seven provincially listed plants.

Friends of Uplands Park gather to remove invasive plants March 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. The group will tackle carpet burweed, bur chervil, ivy and Daphne to aid the endangered Garry oak ecosystem. Students and children are welcome. No experience required; training and tools will be provided. Meet in the Cattle Point lower parking lot.

 

 

Just Posted

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

Victoria police continue to look for missing man Tyrone Goertzen and are once again asking for the public’s assistance in locating him. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police put out another call for help finding missing man

Tyrone Goertzen, 33, was first reported missing June 4

Rachel Rivera (left) and Claire Ouchi are a dynamic art duo known as the WKNDRS. The two painted the new road mural at Uptown. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Artistic mural at Uptown brings creativity, fun to summer shoppers in Saanich

Road installation the largest of its kind in Greater Victoria

Kathy and Doug LaFortune stand next to the new welcome pole now gracing the front entrance of KELSET Elementary School in North Saanich. LaFortune completed the piece after suffering a stroke with the help of his wife and son Bear. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
KELSET school in North Saanich unveils welcome pole on National Indigenous Peoples Day

Carver Doug LaFortune completed pole with the help of his son, wife after suffering a stroke

Colwood council is looking at potential summer weekend closures to traffic of a section of Ocean Boulevard at Esquimalt Lagoon, to allow for more of a park-like setting during summer events such as the popular Eats & Beats event, shown here in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Mayor lobbying for summer weekend closures of beachfront Colwood roadway

Rob Martin to bring motion forward to June 28 council meeting

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

Emergency vehicles are parked outside of the Wintergreen Apartments on Fourth Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni RCMP investigate stabbing on Fourth Avenue

Two men were found with ‘significant’ injuries near Wintergreen Apartments

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read