Volunteer Koji Lida shows off the pile of invasive plants including English Ivy, English Holly, Daphne, English Laurel and Blackberry that he and 17 other volunteers pulled out of Gulf View Park in North Saanich (Amanda Evans/Submitted)

Volunteers rip out a ‘small hill’ of invasive plants from North Saanich park

Greater Victoria Green Team organized the volunteer activity at Gulf View Park

It will take years of ongoing work to rid a North Saanich park of invasive plant species that ultimately threaten human survival.

Amanda Evans, program manager with the Greater Victoria Green Team, made that observation after 18 volunteers removed what she described as a “small hill” of invasive plant species from Gulf View Park in North Saanich on Sunday. By removing these invasive plant species, volunteers help to restore bio-diversity, ultimately benefiting humans, she said.

Invasive plant species crowd out native plants that would otherwise attract insects that also pollinate food crops, said Evans, adding that the absence of pollinators like bees and other insects could have drastic, unforeseen consequences for humans. “We don’t know the cascading effects of removing a diversity of species,” she said.

Sunday’s cleanup was the second of its kind in the history of the small municipal park off East Saanich Road.

Evans said invasive plant species covered most of the park during the first cleanup last year and it could take anywhere between three to five years to rid the park of the majority of invasive species, followed by ongoing maintenance.

“It’s not a huge park, so it’s definitely manageable to get all of the invasive species out of this habitat,” she said.

The park can also serve as a model for others.

“So it’s quite inspiring to see what happened after just three hours,” said Evans. “It empowers us that we are part of making change.”

The project received financial support from the District of North Saanich. “Otherwise, we would not have the capacity to run our program,” she said.

Sunday’s cleanup was the last of its kind that the Greater Victoria Green Team organized in the Greater Victoria area this year. Interested volunteers will be able to choose from almost 50 future opportunities in 2020. See here for more information.

The Greater Victoria Green Team is a region-wide environmental volunteer program that works in over 80 parks and natural areas and organizes community members to revitalize habitat through hands-on educational activities.


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