Milner needs help

The very worst future for wild areas near settled humans is for the humans to pretend their “nearness” does not impact such areas.

Please, conservationist-inclined people, it is time to accept that if a natural area is to be preserved when surrounded by urban development, it must be secured, cared for, enhanced and not “just left alone.”

The very worst future for wild areas near settled humans is for the humans to pretend their “nearness” does not impact (always negatively?) such areas.

So locally, there is a remnant patch of forest called, in B.C.’s biogeoclimactic inventory, the “Coastal Douglas fir moist maritime regime.” This unique coastal forest ecology used to extend from Comox to Victoria. Today? Not so much. Really, very little of this ecology remains on the Island. There are also some fairly remote patches on the west coast of the mainland.

But this is about our patch: the woodland of Milner Gardens. Many local folks have Milner memberships, many local folks are volunteers at Milner, many local folks attend Milner’s wonderful seasonal programs and special events; more than a few have been married at Milner. All pass through the Milner Woodland to reach the gardens and  the well-maintained residence. There are two well-graded paths through the woodland to the gardens. Most folks who work and volunteer at Milner drive into a parking lot; most visitors ride in on the golf cart train.  A few take the paths.

I am hopeful folks will correct me where I am plain wrong or even just a bit off the mark. Have a walk through the woodland and look at it carefully. Many local folks have years of forest experience; what deeper understanding might they offer?

As you walk, do you notice: shrubs crowded in openings and few young conifers; little recruitment in crowded even-aged forest; alien plants; much standing and downed fuel; invasive pines along forest’s edge at Hwy 19A equals interrupted hydrology.  Observe the healthy cedars across 19A from the woodland in a ‘privacy belt’. Though they border a subdivision, they still receive enough moisture.

Less obvious are invasive slugs and a dearth of native mollusks.

Since fire is, one hopes, not available to do its work, only human labour can supply fire’s benefits. To do nothing is to condemn the woodland to the status of an abandoned, fire-prone, woodlot. It deserves better; we deserve better. VIU has a wonderful opportunity to create courses that will lead to jobs in conservation biology.

Larry WilliamsCoombs

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