Volunteers work to remove English ivy from Ed McGregor Park

Volunteers needed to help rid Sooke park of invasive plants

English ivy a harmful invader

The Greater Victoria Green Team and the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society are again joining forces to take on vegetative invaders in Sooke’s Ed Macgregor Park.

It’s the second time the groups have tackled invasive plants in the park. The main culprit is English ivy, an evergreen vine brought to North America from Eurasia during colonial times as an ornamental plant.

“Last year we came to the park with a group of about 25 volunteers and we managed to remove about 70 per cent of the tree ivy, but it’s the nature of the plant that it comes back with a vengeance. Even though we took out more than 20 cubic meters of ivy last year, filling a big bin with the material, the park is full of it again so we’re coming back to help restore what we did last year,” said Amanda Evans, program manager of the Greater Victoria Green Team.

The reason for removing the ivy is rooted in the fact that, while it begins in a juvenile state on the forest floor, it can quickly grow to an arborescent state in which it can completely engulf trees, adding enough weight to cause some trees to topple when exposed to strong winds. The dense growth can also block sunshine from reaching native plants and eventually will drive those native plants from the area.

Evans said that no experience or special skills are required to join in the eradication effort, and that all ages are welcome. She encourages interested parties to make an event out of the restoration project and encourage family members, friends and neighbours to all come out to take part in the day long effort.

“It’s not ideal to only do this once a year, but as an organization we have worked in 78 parks and collaborated with more than 50 groups to remove invasive species, so doing it more often just isn’t possible,” she said, adding that there are many cases where a local group of volunteers take on a more regular stewardship role for a park.

“When a local group forms and goes in even once a month, it can make a huge difference. Then our yearly efforts can help with some of the more difficult tasks, helping the local volunteers do what they are unable to complete on their own. We tend to bring in some real muscle.”

As yet, no local stewardship group exists for Ed Macgregor Park.

The volunteer effort will take place on Saturday (Oct. 21) between 9:45 a.m. and 2 p.m. No pre-registration is required and all ages and experience levels are welcome.

The organizers will be on hand to provide training, tools, and refreshments.

“These events are actually a lot of fun and a great way to interact with friends and neighbours while helping the environment. These invasive species can over-run a park and destroy their beauty and natural diversity,” Evans said.

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