Teaming up to battle broom

It was back-bending work, but a group of employees from the Qualicum Beach Branch of RBC Royal Bank of Canada joined Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) volunteers May 3 to help get rid of invasive Scotch Broom from the sensitive ecosystem at the Englishman River Estuary.

Before the crew got to work with their loppers, mini-saws and snippers, a cheque for $1,000 from RBC's day of service fund was presented to the conservation group for its continued efforts to rebuild B.C.'s wetlands.

Nationally, RBC has pledged millions to organizations worldwide that protect watersheds and members from the Qualicum Beach and Parksville branches have regularly participated in a day of service with DUC for wetlands cleanup.

According to DUC, the B.C. coast is Canada's number one wintering area for birds and up to eight million waterfowl and 20 million shorebirds nest, spend the winter, rest and feed during migration here.

Home to some 300 species of birds, millions of salmon and other wildlife, the coastal wetlands and waterfowl habitat face a number of threats, but DUC has been supporting efforts to protect habitat and rebuild our wetlands.

DUC statistics indicate that up to 80 percent of wetlands on the east coast of Vancouver Island are altered or destroyed.

At one time the Englishman River estuary also known as the Parksville Flats was completely covered in Scotch Broom.  Since the estuary serves as an important habitat for many wildlife species, the broom threatens native plants which are crucial for the wildlife that call the estuary home.

Broom is a strong competitor with native plants, including newly planted coniferous forests and that is why conservation groups want to get rid of it.

Many volunteer groups have cleared a lot of broom in the area but despite their efforts there are still remnants of the weed.

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