On October 29th, the Middle School Eco-Warriors went down to Uplands Park and worked on restoring the Garry Oak ecosystem there. Several of the trees were covered in ivy, and the ground was carpeted not only in oak leaves, which should be there, but also in Daphne laureola (or Stinky Rat Food), English Ivy and Scotch Broom. We were helped out and instructed on how to remove invasive plants by Margaret Lidkea, a retired school teacher and Swan Lake naturalist who formed a group known as Friends of Uplands Park in 1992. She dedicates many hours of her free time to the protection of the Garry Oaks and is a wonderful role model as an Eco-Warrior.
“This experience really made me appreciate the abundance of nature in Victoria.”
She explained that the Garry Oaks we have in Victoria are one of the three most endangered ecosystems in all of Canada. Also, she taught us a lot of interesting things about the native plants and animals living there. These included baby voles and oak apples. The baby voles were adorable! We found them trying to escape their nest and several of us got to hold them (with gloves on) before putting them back.
We worked on a small section of Garry Oaks, cutting back ivy and pulling out daphne and broom. All of us dispersed into various areas and got rid of different species that shouldn’t be in the park. I personally pulled out tons of daphne, including a huge one (with the help of Emma) that was quite a few centimeters wide and needed to be sawed through to be removed.
It was such an enriching and fun experience; we all use the parks around Victoria, and I know that I generally don’t appreciate them or the work that goes into their upkeep as much as I should. This experience really made me appreciate the abundance of nature in Victoria, as well as the work it takes to keep the parks in good condition.
Overall, it was a great day, from taking out the weeds to seeing the voles and much more. Being outside is where we should be. It is beautiful, fun and you feel like you belong. Every minute of our lives we should find ways to save and protect our surroundings. Being outside benefits us spiritually, physically and mentally. We should be outside as much as possible, enjoying our lives and the nature around us. We are just a fraction of the world but we can make a change. We can have a ripple effect.
The Eco-Warriors vision statement is: “Helping our world’s ecosystem one hand, mind, heart, hour, minute, second, at a time — exclamation mark!” and our motto is: “Eco-Warriors — It’s not just a club, it’s a lifestyle. Go green.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Photos and video by the Eco-Warriors