In recent weeks, Conservancy staff and volunteers have begun a new habitat restoration site at St. John Point Regional Park. The site may not look like much yet, but in the coming years it will be transformed into a Douglas fir forest, home to a diversity of native plants, animals, insects, and fungi. Prior to the beginning of the restoration project the site was covered in exotic grasses, with invasive Scotch broom that was first cleared by volunteers in 2019. The recent steps taken as part of the long-term restoration process were to construct a deer fence and distribute wood chips and logs.
What’s with the Wood?
Decomposing wood is a crucial component of healthy forests. Small leaves, needles, conifer cones, and branches continuously fall, created an organic-rich layer of decomposing materials on the forest floor. This humus layer is home to microorganisms who act to break down the debris and recycle the nutrients back into the forest food web. Standing dead trees, fallen logs, and stumps provide important structural habitat for overwintering amphibians, nesting birds, and roosting bats. As part of the restoration of this site we have added a layer of wood chips and chunks of wood. The wood chips will help suppress exotic weeds, hold moisture in the soil, and provide nutrients to young trees and shrubs as they begin to decompose. Normally the cost of purchasing and transporting the wood chips for a site of this size would require more funding than we have, but we were fortunate to receive chips for this site from the CRD Regional Trails project.
Where are the Plants?
The fall is the best time to plant trees and shrubs, so they can set roots during the wet season before the following summer drought. The native trees and shrubs are currently living in our native plant nursery where we can water them through the summer. They have been grown over the past two years from locally collected seeds and cuttings and will be planted at the site in the fall. Some native species that will be planted at the site include Douglas fir, grand fir, western red cedar, big-leaf maple, oceanspray, red-flowering currant, Saskatoon, and sword fern. We will also experiment with directly seeding several locally collected wildflower species to give the site some spring colour until the larger plants can mature.
Thanks for your Help
This work would not be possible without the hard work of our community volunteers, thank you all who have helped and will help with this great project. Thank you also to our funding partners Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Victoria Foundation, BC Gaming, and TD Friends of the Environment Foundation for their contributions.
Come Join Us
Volunteering with the Conservancy is a fun way to contribute directly to healthy ecosystems on Mayne Island. If you’re interested in helping out with planting native trees and shrubs, constructing and maintaining deer fencing, and removing invasive plant species, let us know and we’ll add you to our email list for upcoming habitat restoration events.