Proceedings Now Published
The Proceedings for the GOERT 12th Research Colloquium 2016 are available as of January 16, 2017.
Marie Fidoe was the first landowner to sign on to the Back To Our Roots Project in October, 2015. Since then this avid gardener has been busy weeding, mulching, and preparing areas of her large Esquimalt yard for some of the native plants that were recommended by our naturescaping expert Pat Johnston during an on-site consultation. On March 30, 2016, Marie’s property was the first to be assessed for certification. She was elated to discover that she has already achieved the requirements for Level 1 Green certification. Marie intends to add more indigenous plants when the autumn rains eliminate the need for supplemental watering. If all goes according to her plan, she will likely need to trade the Green sign in for a Level 2 Gold certification sign.
Marie commented that Back To Our Roots is “a great, easy homeowner geared project. I appreciate the knowledge and encouragement”. The free expert advice and resource materials were provided with funding support from Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program and Capital Regional District Parks and Environmental Services.
For more information about the Back To Our Roots Gardening For Nature Project, please click here.
You may think it wouldn’t be hard to find a bright orange, black and white butterfly. But Taylor’s Checkerspot (Euphydryas editha taylori) butterflies are difficult to spot because they’re small and extremely rare. Finding and monitoring these butterflies and their larvae are just a few of the challenges facing a team of more than 25 dedicated scientists and local residents collaborating to recover the species.
On March 7 and 8, sixteen very excited Taylor’s Checkerspot Recovery Project members and community volunteers gently placed more than 1000 precious Checkerspot larvae (caterpillars) into a butterfly reserve within Denman Island Provincial Park and Protected Area. The event was a coordinated effort, with larval release sites carefully chosen, weeded and prepared with healthy food plants for larvae in advance. Following release, local residents and BC Ministry of Environment staff will continue to monitor the larvae as long as they can find them.
Approximately 250 more larvae will be released in the coming weeks and adult butterfly counts are planned for May. The larvae were raised at a captive rearing facility managed by Denman Island resident and passionate conservationist Peter Karsten. It’s operated with help from local volunteers, with seasonal staff and funding provided by Wildlife Preservation Canada. Captive butterfly rearing and releases are among many Taylor’s Checkerspot recovery actions planned and made possible with support from BC Ministry of Environment, BC Parks, BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program, the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team, and the Greater Vancouver Zoo.
Taylor’s Checkerspot butterflies once occurred in over 20 places on southeastern Vancouver Island, from Courtenay to Victoria. Now, Denman Island is the only place in Canada where they are found in the wild! They’re clinging to survival within small portions of ephemeral wetland and meadow habitat in the new Denman Island Provincial Park and Protected Area and a few private properties. One of Canada’s rarest species, Taylor’s Checkerspot is federally listed as Endangered under the Species At Risk Act and is on the B.C. Conservation Data Centre Red List.
Please click here if you would like to learn more about the Taylor’s Checkerspot Recovery Project.
Thanks to funding from Environment Canada and the Capital Regional District for the 2015-16 fiscal year, GOERT launched a gardening for nature project last fall called Back to Our Roots. It’s a habitat certification program that provides landowners with on-site expert advice, helpful resource materials, technical assistance, and incentives to help them plan and complete ‘naturescape’ projects.
The goal of the project is to work with property owners to help nature by:
Several gardeners signed up for the project and scheduled one of our native plant experts (Pat Johnston, Kristen Mikelly, Louise Goulet) to assess their property, discuss their landscaping ideas, and provide advice. Afterwards, the experts prepared lists of recommended plants or more detailed planting plans that would be suitable for the specific growth conditions on the property. Over the winter project participants have been busy planning, weeding, and other steps to prepare their yards. Some of them have even started planting. We’re looking forward to seeing the results of their labour!
For more information about the project, or to sign up, check out the new Back to Our Roots section on this website.
The coastal bluff ecosystems of Helliwell Provincial Park are unique in Canada. These open meadows are part of the Garry Oak and associated ecosystems – habitats that were once widespread in the eastern lowland areas from Comox south to greater Victoria and throughout the Gulf Islands. Coastal bluff meadows are home to many rare plants, insects and birds that are at the northern limits of their global distribution and occur nowhere else in Canada. Current threats to these ecosystems include: human development; agriculture; suppression of fire; invasive non-native species; and elevated black-tail deer populations.
The species within these ecosystems depend on sunny, open habitats with typically shallow soils over bedrock. Some seasonal pools or wetlands exist within bedrock depressions and seepage areas. Prior to European settlement, wildfires naturally kept these habitats open and released nutrients to the meadow plants. First Nations also used these meadow habitats for the harvest of important plants such as camas and they traditionally burned these areas to increase and maintain plant abundance. Fire suppression began about 150 years ago, with European settlement and widespread land-clearing for agriculture. It was also at this time that non-native plants such as Scotch Broom, English Holly, Himalayan Blackberry, and agricultural grasses began to spread and become established.