Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Dear Friends of Conservation,
This summer we climbed 600 metres up Mount Benson in Nanaimo to teach Vancouver Island University (VIU) students about ecological data collection, repeat photography and plant identification techniques. On a quest for knowledge of how the landscape had changed over the years, we thought this would be an excellent opportunity to educate students on natural forest succession. Students were able to identify several saprophytic plants such as Pinesap (Hypopitys monotropa), Pinedrop (Pterospora andromedea), the rare Gnome-plant (Hemitomes congestum) and a population of Reindeer Lichen (Cladonia rangiferina) which is an endangered species due to habitat loss.
Students were thrilled to have an opportunity to learn hands-on about the surrounding flora from peers and working professionals out in the field.
VIU students tell us that covenant monitoring with our team has increased their understanding of the scientific process and the ways in which science contributes to their relationship with the environment.
“These kinds of genuine interactions and experiences can also enhance one’s understanding of science and of the environment and ecosystems on a broader scale as well, which in turn can influence one’s ideas and perceptions around such things as climate change as the underlying science becomes more accessible,” said one first year VIU Environmental Geography student.
Since 1997, TLC’s conservation covenants have provided the organization with opportunities to share knowledge and experiences with aspiring young conservationists, but this year we were fortunate to enlist one of these students to launch a long-term research project. Karen Iwachow, our summer intern for the 2017 covenant monitoring season, is sure to be one of the future faces of conservation.
Karen’s work is the beginning of TLC’s research project developing an indicator species list to determine forest ecosystem health. This research will be used in part to help create management plans to facilitate healthy forest ecosystems. Both the training of today’s students and our investments in research that supports species survival, amid the threat of climate change, provide long-term dividends.
TLC’s Covenant Program now sustainably protects more than 12,750 acres throughout the province which include streams, lakes, riparian areas, forests, greenbelts, and rare and endangered species. Our protected areas are continuing to expand; this fall we signed a new covenant on the Hollyhock Lifelong Learning Centre property on Cortes Island.
TLC’s Hollyhock Covenant protects 4.1 acres of wetland and a mature Douglas-fir and Western Red Cedar grove. This ecologically significant area is part of a network of large, intact properties on the southern portion of Cortes Island including Siskin Lane, Siskin Forest Park, South Chains, Treedom Ventures and Hank’s Beach Forest Conservation Park, all of which are protected by conservation covenants. This connected wildlife corridor safeguards habitat for Columbia black-tailed deer, cougar and the coastal wolf.
Our history proves that by working in partnership we can accomplish the most brilliant acts of conservation. With our mission to protect and restore the biological diversity of B.C. in mind, TLC has partnered to launch two new initiatives to preserve important natural environments at risk of development.
In order to protect Owl Island, located just off of Salt Spring Island, TLC is reaching out to all levels of government and community groups including the Islands Trust and local First Nations to create a collaborative conservation plan.
Within the Coastal Douglas-fir biogeoclimatic zone, Owl Island has not been developed and has minimal disturbance compared to other islands in the archipelago. Thanks, in part to the lack of lack-tail deer overbrowsing and the history of low human-impact, the island provides an ecological baseline for the region.
Visiting Owl Island this spring I couldn’t help but observe the site with a sense of wonder. The lush understory of chocolate lily, seablush and fawn lilies provides spectacular spreads of spring wildflowers.
A number of extremely old junipers command the shoreline while the interior holds culturally modified ancient Douglas-fir snags. This privately-owned two acre property near Salt Spring Island’s Ganges Harbour is currently up for sale. I am grateful that the present owner has been such a thoughtful steward.
Across the Province in the Clearwater River Valley, next to the southern section of Wells Gray Provincial Park, the expansion of the Clearwater Wetland and Wildlife Corridor is the most recent project of focus for TLC. The securement of this area will see valuable habitat protected, provide areas for wildlife viewing and foster research and education.
At the center of the project is the creation of a permanent wildlife corridor that will connect two portions of southern Wells Gray Provincial Park. This corridor will benefit the park’s large mammals – moose, wolves, deer, cougars, black bears and grizzly bears – that must currently travel across the Clearwater River Valley during spring and fall through unprotected private lands.
The creation of this corridor is of utmost importance as the private lands in this area are undergoing significant development pressure as the world begins to discover this incredible part of B.C. TLC is working with the Wells Gray Wilderness Society to ensure permanent connectivity for large mammal migrations.
You can help ensure the protection of biological diversity in Clearwater and on Owl Island. By making a donation today to support the Covenant Program or TLC’s Acquisition Fund for projects like Clearwater, we can ensure the rich ecological diversity and cultural significance of these places is secure.
Please donate online today at conservancy.bc.ca. Donations to TLC received by December 31st are eligible for 2017 tax receipts. If you wish to make your giving part of your regular routine please consider giving monthly.
Thank you for your gift towards protecting the precious biological diversity that makes British Columbia such a beautiful place to call home.
P.S. Looking for a holiday gift for a loved one that is impossible to shop for? Give a gift that makes a lasting difference. Consider a donation to TLC in their honour. Visit our website at conservancy.bc.ca or contact us at 1-877-485-2422 or firstname.lastname@example.org to make your gift today.