Fostering Conservation and Restoration of Priority Habitat on Salt Spring Island, BC, 2016-2017

Project by the Salt Spring Island Conservancy

Location: Salt Spring Island, B.C.

For more information on this project, please contact Christine Torgrimson, Executive Director, Salt Spring Island, BC.

Purpose

This project addresses the priorities of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) through protecting, conserving, enhancing, and managing priority wetland and upland habitat for over 45 species of waterfowl, migratory game birds, and wetland-associated bird species on Salt Spring Island. Building on 5 successful years of wetland conservation projects funded by WHC, we will implement targeted wetland restoration, and work with landowners towards legal protection of priority habitats through donation or acquisition of land and establishment of conservation covenants and Stewardship Agreements. We will engage landowners and volunteers in stewardship activities on priority habitats, restore and enhance habitat through actions such as invasive species removal and propagation of native plants for wetland restoration, manage important habitats already owned or covenanted by SSIC, and increase landowners’ skills and awareness of wetland restoration through articles, public presentations and workshops.

Long-term conservation impacts and benefits

Project impacts resulting from our wetland restoration work will include long-term benefits to waterfowl, 24 Species at Risk and other wildlife at the Blackburn Lake Nature Reserve: increased area of wetland and upland habitat; re-established native vegetation assemblages and landscape biodiversity; diverse wetlands with various hydroperiods; reduced erosion to help maintain freshwater sources; and improved biological productivity and diversity. Additionally, project participants and partners will increase their knowledge of wetland restoration and their capacity to implement wetland restoration projects in other areas. Project activities will directly contribute to a knowledgeable community and resilient ecosystems. For example, in 2014, one participant in a wetland design workshop offered by SSIC subsequently built a wetland on their own property, and an additional participant is planning to restore wetland habitat on their land. As over 75% of land on Salt Spring Island is privately owned, engaging and inspiring landowners to restore and steward their own lands is imperative to protect lands and preserve freshwater sustainability in our watersheds.

New tools, methodologies, landscape practices or protocols

SSIC’s progressive restoration of a former golf course is a novel approach to restoring a highly disturbed ecosystem. SSIC will produce a short video highlighting restoration work at Blackburn Lake Nature Reserve which may include innovative features such as drone and virtual footage. The video will promote wetland conservation and restoration on SSIC’s website and social media pages. SSIC will hold an innovative workshop for landowners with an expert to learn techniques and tools for designing and building a wetland, seed collection and native plant propagation, or bioengineering for stream bank stabilization. Private consultations will be offered to landowners interested in designing or restoring wetlands on their land and stewardship options.

Stewardship

Project staff will actively engage with landowners interested in donating their land for long-term conservation. SSIC also works with landowners who would like to improve stewardship practices on their land. Volunteer wardens maintain trails and monitor ecological integrity in SSIC nature reserves, and volunteers assist in conservation covenant monitoring. Landowners, volunteers and students have many opportunities to participate in stewardship activities– habitat enhancement and restoration, native plant and tree planting, seed collection and propagation, mapping, wildlife and waterfowl monitoring, restoration workshops, and invasive species removal.