Couple sets aside land for Garry oaks

After a long drought Comox Valley Nature is renewing its drive to plant 2,250 Garry oaks.

NICK AND ANNA Guthrie have set aside a one-third of an acre triangle of their sheep farm to plant a Garry oak grove of 40 trees.

After the longest drought on record that lasted from July to October, Comox Valley Nature is renewing its drive to plant 2,250 Garry oaks in the Comox Valley from Ships Point to Campbell River.

This drought was consistent with the kind of extreme events forecast by climate change modellers for the past two decades. It is also consistent with the kind of drier climate cycle that prevailed in B.C. prior to 1750, when Garry oak ecosystems were at their height in the Comox Valley and still covered over 15 square miles of savannah in 1860.

As expected, Garry oaks planted before the drought and water table draw down have weathered these temperature extremes.  Garry oaks are a tree species with a massive taproot system that makes them excellently adapted to the climate extremes of both flood and drought.

Renewing these heritage trees is now an investment in our children’s future. It is not just an elegant tree, it is commonsense stewardship.

Comox Valley Nature wishes to publicly congratulate Nick and Anna Guthrie for setting aside a one-third of an acre triangle of their sheep farm to plant a Garry oak grove of 40 trees, which they plan to hand down to their grandchildren.

At a time when the once-glorious Garry Oak ecosystems of the Comox Valley have been reduced to less than one per cent of their extent, this generous act is a wise and priceless use of private land for the public good.

The demise of the Garry oak system is largely caused by the fact that Vancouver Islands Garry oak ecosystems overlap with the private land base, which is being rapidly developed. The problem therefore needs to be addressed by working with private landowners. If we plant now, we can reverse the rapid disappearance of this heritage.

The Guthries are being joined by many landowners — but many more are still needed. If you are interested, you should contact Comox Valley Nature’s Garry oak restoration program at http://comoxvalleynaturalist.bc.ca or by calling Loys Maingon (CVN president) at 250-331-0143.

The program provides various local Garry oaks specific to one of five regional genetic populations. The site is visited by a professional biologist to assess feasibility and growing potential.  Trees planted are registered and mapped, and form part of an ongoing climate change monitoring experiment.

— Comox Valley Nature

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