New funding will allow Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) to take on Garry oak ecosystem restoration on southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands
As part of the B.C. Economic Recovery Plan, the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (MOE) has allocated $10 million for ecosystem and species conservation projects across B.C.
“This funding is a dream come true: it gives us an opportunity to carry out work that we’ve been planning for many years,” says Wendy Tyrrell, HAT’s habitat management coordinator and 14-year veteran of the conservation organization. “I’m excited to see this funding support a diverse array of Garry oak ecosystem restoration projects and sites across the Salish Sea, while creating jobs in a difficult time.”
The funding will allow HAT to establish a restoration crew with three restoration field technicians to work on HAT’s protected lands restoring Garry oak ecosystems over the next year.
These funds are supporting 12 Garry oak ecosystem projects in the Capital Regional District including public, private, and reserve lands, while creating or supporting more than a dozen new jobs. The created jobs will target vulnerable communities most impacted by COVID-19 including women, young adults, and Indigenous persons; as well as people who lost jobs in sectors impacted by COVID-19, such as tourism, engineering, and hospitality.
Of the 12 projects, two are Indigenous-led ecosystem restoration projects, three are located on HAT’s protected lands, and two are research-based projects that contribute to the benefits of ecological restoration. Many of these projects are focused on building community partnerships and restoring important habitats for species at risk in Garry oak and associated ecosystems such as wildflower meadows, rock outcrops and seasonal wetlands vernal seeps.
Garry oak ecosystems are among the most endangered in Canada. These complex landscapes provide a rich habitat for wildlife and have provided resources for food, medicines and tools for humans for millennia. With less than five per cent of Garry oak ecosystems remaining, ensuring they are conserved and managed is crucial to sustaining their existence.
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