This will not be the first time officials have used controlled burns to manage the Cowichan Garry oak preserve. (Citizen file)

Precious Vancouver Island Garry oak eco-systems being put to the torch

Cowichan, Mechosin will see planned burns in order to maintain ecologically rare habitat

They are some of the most unique and ecologically precious eco-systems on Vancoouver Island.

And some time in the next month or so, officials will be be deliberately setting them on fire.

Cowichan’s Garry Oak Preserve and Rocky Point on the Canadian Armed Forces base in Metchosin will be one of two sensitive ecosystems intentionally torched in the coming weeks, according to the BC Wildfire Service, in a cleanse designed to improve their health.

SEE RELATED: In Bloom Wildflower Festival celebrates spring in Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve

SEE RELATED: Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve featured on a national podcast

The goal is “to reduce wildfire risks, manage flammable vegetation on the landscape and help restore Garry oak ecosystems,” according to a press release issued by the BC Wildfire Service. “Reintroducing fire into these areas is an effective way to promote natural regenerative processes, control invasive species and slow the encroachment of conifer trees into these specialized ecosystems,” said the release.

It may seem counter-intuitive to set something one is trying to preserve on fire, but the Wildfire Service notes it’s actually the traditional way to manage sites like this.

“Historically, First Nation communities maintained the grassy plains at these sites by burning off dry grasses, shrubs and young trees that are less tolerant of fire than Garry oak,” said the release. “These ecosystems relied on regular, low-intensity ground fires to limit the spread of competing tree species, remove accumulations of dead wood and other vegetation, and promote new growth. Fire-resistant Garry oak and mature Douglas fir trees would have survived such fires and herbaceous plants would have vigorously re-sprouted after the fire had passed through.”

Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve is located along Maple Bay Road, with a viewing area near the foot of MacKenzie Drive. It’s home to the largest Garry oak in Canada.

While Rocky Point is a much larger area at 20 hectares, the 1.5-hectare Cowichan Garry Oak Preserve will also be burned in three stages, when the site and weather conditions are favourable.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Big opportunity for Vancouver Island horse farm

Duncan equestrian business Valley View Farms selected for one of just four grants in North America

Saanich adds to green resurfacing fleet at Pearkes Arena

The device creates bubble-free ice without the need for heat, reducing emissions

Editorial: Slow down from holiday rush to enjoy season

First, you have to be realistic and admit to yourself that you can’t do everything.

T.W. Paterson column: This cougar story will never die

“As I walked along the last row in the Gallery, a skull mounted by one of the displays caught my eye!”

VIDEO: SNL skewers Trudeau’s mockery of Trump in high school cafeteria sketch

The three world leaders won’t let Trump sit at the cool kids’ table

Kingfisher Resort unveils spectacular winter light display

Visit Comox Valley resort’s lighted garden free of charge over the holiday season

Newest piece of public art arrives on Oak Bay Avenue

Contest opens to rename ‘Stickman’ driftwood sculpture

Kovrig clings to humour as ‘two Michaels’ near one year in Chinese prison

Their detention is widely viewed as retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Chinese high-tech scion Meng Wanzhou

B.C. VIEWS: An engine that hums right along

First Nations are leading a new surge of investment in B.C.

Brain injury from domestic abuse a ‘public health crisis,’ says B.C. researcher

Nearly 80% of the domestic violence victims who reported to police last year were women

Miller nets winner as Canucks edge Sabres 6-5 in OT

Roussel, Leivo tally two apiece for Vancouver

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

Most Read