May 2012: This season’s Acorn Award goes to Arthur Robinson, a long-standing participant on the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERT). For more than 20 years, Art worked as a Federal Lands Forester at Pacific Forestry Centre (PFC), and has been a key federal partner for GOERT, providing insight into activities and perspectives from both Natural Resources Canada and the Department of National Defence related to Garry Oak ecosystems conservation. He has recently become Archives Manager at PFC and is engaged in setting up a system and documenting the information he holds from all his years as a forester.
Brian Reader, GOERT Chair (on leave), says, “In addition to his work with the Team, Art has spearheaded many habitat and species at risk restoration and research initiatives in Garry Oak ecosystems on federal lands. Art has also been of inestimable support to us through his position at PFC by ensuring we have had meeting space for the Recovery Team and its many sub-committees. He has always been on hand to make sure the rooms are set up and that we have everything we need for our meetings. Thanks Art, for your numerous contributions to the program.”
Maureen Scott, who took over Art’s position as Forestry Officer, says, “I was lucky to have Art as my mentor when I began this job. When he introduced me to colleagues I would joke that I was the new and improved Art, but in reality it was difficult to set the bar any higher than what he had established. Art is what my grandmother would call a mensch—a Yiddish word meaning a person of integrity and honour—someone to admire and emulate. Many of his ideas and projects are worth emulating, particularly ones related to ecosystem recovery.”
“One hugely successful project Art planned and initiated is a 25-hectare Garry Oak ecosystem restoration along the coast at Rocky Point. The results of his efforts are already evident, and the project is ongoing. Fortunately Art is still working at PFC, available to provide sage advice and chocolate covered almonds.”
Another colleague of Art’s at PFC, Andrea Schiller adds, “Art is an incredibly warm and friendly person, always willing to share his expertise or lend an ear. In his work at PFC, Art recognized early on the importance of managing invasive species and protecting rare species and ecosystems. Under his guidance, Natural Resources Canada and the Department of National Defence have been engaged in Garry Oak ecosystems recovery activities for many years. Art has a strong connection and a wealth of knowledge about the places and properties where he focused his career. His connection to the landscape and years of observations are invaluable. Fortunately for us Art has been busily documenting the information he holds from all his years of experience!”
About Art’s work on CFB Esquimalt properties, Tracy Cornforth says: “Under the Federal Lands Program at PFC, Art has been working with the Department of National Defence for over 20 years. Art knows every tree, nook, and cranny of the CFB Esquimalt properties; he has been our eyes and ears on these lands. As part of his service to CFB Esquimalt, Art has overseen numerous rare species surveys. He has mapped Garry Oak ecosystems and monitored conifer encroachment and has overseen conifer removal projects to release Garry Oaks and their associated meadows. Art has been a long time member of GOERT and his knowledge of DND lands has greatly contributed not only to our program at CFB Esquimalt but to the Recovery Team as a whole.” Tracy is the Environment Officer with National Defence, CFB Esquimalt.
Marilyn Fuchs, one of the founders of GOERT, now Environmental Conservation Specialist with CRD Regional Parks adds, “Some of the things I have most appreciated about Art are how steady, reliable, and hard-working he is. He is not one for showing off his talents or the broad scope of his many responsibilities. Instead, he just always gets things done and helps the rest of us to get things done, in any way he can, from the small details of setting up the tables in the meeting rooms, to instituting large-scale ecological inventory and management programs. In his quiet way, he has been one of the pillars of Garry Oak ecosystem recovery in Canada over the last decade or so.
When asked about his experience with GOERT, Art said, “Dealing with species at risk is something that needs to be done, and I’m happy to do my part in it. I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve spent with GOERT and I’m sorry to leave now, but I hope to contribute some volunteer time after I’ve retired.” We’ll be sure to hold you to that, Art!
Congratulations, and thanks for your many contributions to Garry Oak ecosystems recovery!