Garry oak multi-media presentation

The public is invited for an informative multi-media presentation that looks at the history and present status of Garry oak trees and their ecosystems in the Comox Valley.

A GARRY OAK tree overlooks farmland in the Comox Valley.

A GARRY OAK tree overlooks farmland in the Comox Valley.

The public is invited for an informative multi-media presentation that looks at the history and present status of Garry oak trees and their ecosystems in the Comox Valley.

The presentation, which will include the rare Point Holmes sand dune ecosystem, begins in the Stan Hagen Theatre at North Island College this Friday at 7 p.m.

The gnarly, but majestic Garry oak tree was at the heart of controversy over a recent, but now abandoned, proposal to build a new school on land beside Vanier Secondary School. The Comox Valley was once home to large expanses of Garry oak woodlands, which occur in Canada only in southwestern B.C.

On Vancouver Island, the Garry oak is at the northern extent of its range in the Comox Valley, and often appears in unusual associations with other species.

Historically, Garry oak ecosystems played an important role in the lives and culture of First Nations people. Today, only five per cent of the original Garry oak habitat in British Columbia remains, much of it having been cleared for agriculture, and for residential and industrial development.

The Comox Valley Conservation Strategy Community Partnership and the Comox Valley Naturalist Society are co-sponsoring the presentation in an effort to promote greater study and protection of the remaining Garry oak trees, woodlands and associated ecosystems to ensure that their values are not lost forever. Garry oak ecosystems are home to a rich assemblage of plant and animal species, some found nowhere else in the world.

The Garry oak celebration will include speakers such as Garry oak expert Dr. Kathy Dunster, a Denman Island resident and biologist; Holly Clermont of the Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team; Kerry Dawson and Jack Minard of the CVCS; and Dr. Loys Maignon (RPBio), vice-president of the CVNS and chair of the Canadian Advisory Committee on Water Quality Sampling Methods.

The speakers will talk briefly about why Garry oak ecosystems are important and will examine current and potential strategies to increase their protection locally.

In addition, a short video by Kerry Dawson entitled Sensitive Natural Areas of Point Holmes will be premiered and a slideshow featuring beautiful images taken by talented local photographers will also be shown, followed by a question and answer session with the speakers.

For gardeners and landowners, information on expanding Garry Oak habitat on your property will be available and copies of The Garry Oak Gardener’s Handbook will be sold. Interested gardeners may also sign up for a Garry oak gardener’s workshop to be offered in the spring.

— Comox Valley Conservation Strategy Community Partnership

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