Removing invasive plant species from Highrock Park in Esquimalt, British Columbia: Helping preserve and restore unique ecosystems through community participation
AbstractThis report examines the presence of exotic and invasive plant species in a small urban park in Esquimalt, British Columbia. Highrock Park is a remnant of unique associated ecosystems of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga meziesii) forest and Garry oak (Quercus garryana) meadowland of significant cultural, recreational, and ecological importance to southeastern Vancouver Island. Threatened like many urban greenspaces with ecosystem disturbances caused by human encroachment, the park faces a loss of biodiversity caused by the proliferation of invasive plant species. The focus of this project was to inventory the amount of invasive species present within the selected project area and to remove as many species as possible through volunteer-based community participation. Furthermore, the goal of removing invasive species was made in preparation for future native re-vegetation planned by the municipality for its annual ‘Earth Day’ event on April 24th, 2019. Large quantities of English ivy (Hedera helix), Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus), and Laurel-leaved daphne (Daphne laureola) along with several individuals of English holly (Ilex aquifolium), Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius), and English hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) were identified in the project area using the Line Intercept Method in conjunction with terrestrial ecosystem mapping based on British Columbia’s Field Manual for Describing Terrestrial Ecosystems (2nd ed., 2010). A volunteer ‘weed pull’ event was organized for April 13th, 2019 that resulted in seven volunteers working a combined thirty volunteer hours to remove significant amounts of invasive plant species from the study area. Ultimately, the project succeeded in bringing together community members to prepare the project area for potential native re vegetation by municipal staff and grade school volunteers on April 24th, 2019.