Headquartered in the observatory at the top of Gonzales Hill, The Land Conservancy of BC overlooks Oak Bay – though its efforts stretch far beyond local roots.
This year, the conservancy celebrates its 20th anniversary of protecting land with a fundraiser for its covenant program. Donations will yield double the conservational impact, Matched by Frances Sloan Sainas, chair of TLC’s board of directors
“I’m challenging those who respect and appreciate the 250 habitats that TLC’s covenants protect to support our land trust by sponsoring a covenant this year,” Sainas said, adding that those unable to donate financially can donate their time by volunteering. She vowed to match contributions up to $20,000 in honour of TLC’s anniversary. As of mid-July, the fundraiser reached nearly half its goal.
The conservancy is a non-profit committed to the conservation of natural habitats and heritage sites in B.C. through conservation covenants and stewardship agreements. TLC owns eight properties, including Clearwater Wetland and Wildlife Corridor, Fort Shepherd Conservancy Area, Madrona Farm, Nimpo Lake Cabin, Qualicum Bat House, Second Lake, Todd Road and Abkhazi Garden on Fairfield Road.
“As we’re seeing the effects of climate change, maintaining biodiversity is of utmost importance. Maintaining options gives you adaptability, which gives you resilience for the future,” said Torrey Archer, covenant manager.
Regardless of who owns the land, the conservation covenant remains in place and cannot be dissolved unless both the land owner and the land trust agree. “As far as I know, that’s never happened,” Archer said. She and hundreds of volunteers across B.C. visit the conservancy’s 240 covenants at least once each year to monitor changes and remove invasive plants. University of Victoria students make up a large amount of the local volunteer population, visiting covenants on the South Island to conduct baseline documentation reports.
These reports, Archer explains, often involve things like repeat photography. “We go back to the same spot and take photos north, south, east and west. We do this every year and this allows us to track landscape changes,” she said.
Over the past year, the conservancy has trained 219 volunteers from other land trusts and students from the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University. Volunteers donated 975 hours to protect ecologically important sites, while gaining hands-on monitoring and restoration skills. The conservancy removed more than 136 cubic meters of Scotch broom, ivy and other invasive species from covenants, roadsides and parks in the last year alone.
The conservancy will have its annual general meeting on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Windsor Pavilion, 2451 Windsor Road. Members, volunteers, staff and the public will enjoy live music and a barbecue dinner.