Ecological restoration is the recovery of habitats and ecosystems back to their original states. Restoring plant communities can increase biodiversity. Currently, biodiversity is rapidly decreasing throughout the world due to many factors such as climate change, pollution and loss of habitats. In Canada, some natural areas are protected by the government, but these ecosystems can still be vulnerable to degradation. Thus, a 3-step guide was created in an effort to restore protected areas as effectually as possible.
Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site is located in Colwood, British Columbia. It was used as a coastal artillery in the late 19th century. Fort Rodd Hill houses one of the last remaining Garry oak ecosystems. This ecosystem does not only comprise of Garry oaks, but many plant, animal and insect species, as well. Fort Rodd Hill also contains 7 plant species that are at risk of extinction, which makes protecting this site a priority.
Years ago, fire was used to control the ecosystem by the Aboriginal people. Now, fire is being used less, which is bad news for the Garry oaks. With fire being restricted, it makes it easier for species like the Douglas fir to quickly grow to big heights. Slow-growing trees like the Garry oaks suffer as a result when the Douglas firs block sunlight.
The first step in the guide to recover ecosystems is the “effective restoring and maintaining of ecological integrity”. In the Garry oak ecosystem’s case, over 12 tonnes of Douglas fir trees were removed by 2004. Also, 10,000 native plant seeds were collected and grown in protected sites with Garry oaks surrounded by a fence to prevent animal grazing. The second step in the guide is “efficiently using practical economic methods to achieve success”. Invasive species control methods were created by collaborating staff members and an ecosystem recovery team. The last step is to “engage through implementing inclusive processes by embracing interrelationships between culture and nature”. After removing the invasive Douglas firs and helping the Garry oaks, the volunteers and staff were proud that their hard work led to an ecosystem being saved. Their efforts will encourage future generations to continue restoring endangered ecosystems.
If you want to learn more about Canada’s effort to conserve and restore ecosystems, check out: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/nature/science/conservation