This RIG works to raise the protection level of priority sites by providing input on development plans, facilitating acquisitions, proposing bylaws, encouraging stewardship, and other measures. The goal is to establish a network of protected areas representative of the full diversity of Garry oak and associated ecosystems throughout their geographic range in Canada. The network needs to be of sufficient size, ecological integrity and continuity to sustain essential ecosystem characteristics over the long term.
Priority Sites Mapping
The Conservation Planning and Site Protection RIG has developed a list of 25 priority sites of Garry oak and associated ecosystems. This map was produced to show the locations of these sites for use by conservation planners. It has been overlayed with a layer showing the range of Garry oak ecosystems, mapped by Kate Miller and Ted Lea of the BC Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection (2003). However, this includes areas having Garry oak trees as a dominant or co-dominant component of the ecosystem only (i.e. does not include associated ecosystems, which are equally valuable but lack significant Garry oak cover). Garry oak range mapping was limited to Victoria and the Saanich Peninsula; the Cowichan Valley and Saltspring Island; the Nanaimo, Parksville and Nanoose Area; and the Comox Valley with Denman and Hornby Islands (note: Comox Valley sites are missing from this map). More extensive mapping is needed to include other areas within the range of Garry oaks, as well as associated ecosystems.
An important role of GOERT is its collaboration with local governments, which have been recognized as a key component in Garry oak ecosystem recovery planning. In 2007, GOERT partnered with the municipalities of Colwood and Langford during their Official Community Plan (OCP) review process. This initiative aimed to provide the municipalities with current data so that they could better consider Garry oak ecosystem values during the update of their OCPs. The Conservation Planning and Site Protection RIG identified Garry oak and associated ecosystem sites within the municipalities based on their ecological values and level of threat, and these were then surveyed and mapped. It is a goal of this RIG to be able to conduct further mapping and provide such information to other local governments within the range of Garry oak and associated ecosystems.