Garry oak ecosystems are among the most diverse and the most endangered in Canada.
The historical distribution of the Garry oak ecosystems is down to less than five per cent.
Of this, the Comox Valley’s oaks represent groups that were historically associated with woodlands, wetlands and riparian areas. These groups are now down to less than one per cent of their historical distribution.
Comox Valley Nature has established one of Vancouver Island’s most comprehensive restoration program outside of Victoria. CVN is committed to the preservation of the valley’s Garry oaks through educational, nursery and replanting programmes, by working with responsible landowners.
The Comox Valley is home to five distinct genetic populations of Garry oaks. In 1865 two of these were documented to spread over large areas up the Tsolum River (Courtenay/Vanier population), and along the coast north of the Goose Spit to Kye Bay (Lazo population).
The building of the Sports Centre on Vanier Drive in 1997 reduced the Vanier population by 30 to 50 per cent. No compensation or mitigation has ever been made for this destruction.
It is currently further threatened by plans to develop 20 lots on property managed by School District 71. This is the last major grove in the Comox Valley, and the only Garry oak land not strictly in private ownership in the Comox Valley. The proposed development would foreclose the possibility of restoration and mitigation for recent losses.
What remains of the Lazo Garry Oak population lines the seashore on private land. Historically this would have formed a natural biological barrier to sand dune erosion.
Fortunately, some responsible landowners have taken care to preserve and protect these poorly understood trees and ecosystems. This is a magnificent example of responsible stewardship.
They have agreed to allow limited public access so that interested parties can appreciate what we are collectively about to lose.
As part of its educational mandate, CVN is offering a free public educational walk in the Lazo area, with the support of local landowners.
CVN president and Garry Oak restoration chair Dr. Loys Maingon (RPBio) will lead this walk and will be on hand to answer questions. The walk is this Sunday. Interested parties should meet at the Point Holmes boat launch at 9:30 a.m.
Anyone interested in participating in CVNS activities can also contact us at http://comoxvalleynaturalist.bc.ca or Loys Maingon at 250-331-0143.
— Comox Valley Nature