The Horticulture Center of the Pacific Conservation Park includes the HCP land not used for gardens and support facilities. This is about 90 per cent of the 42-hectare (103-acre) site. It includes all the land outside the fenced area and about half of the area inside the fence.
The HCP conservation park can be viewed as the first level of a three-tiered restoration effort in the Municipality of Saanich. The second tier is the Glendale Lands Contiguous Forest Project that involves restoring about 45 per cent of the 130-ha Glendale Lands site. The third tier is the 650-ha Goward Spring Creek drainage.
About 35 per cent of this is either second growth Douglas fir forest or open areas that have good potential for being restored to and maintained as greenspace. There is a vision of developing a community organization where many of the landowners are committed to managing their land in a way that restores and preserves the forested nature and riparian characteristics of the area.
The primary function of the area is to have it function as close to a primeval coastal Douglas fir forest as is possible with a fragmented bit of land used by people. Within this setting recreation activities, income production, and education functions can occur.
About 70 per cent of the HCP site is to be ecologically rehabilitated and preserved. This includes endangered Garry oak habitat and the Viaduct Flats wetlands area, which is protected by a covenant agreement. A key element in striking the balance between conservation and recreation in these areas is the carefully planned trail and viewing station system. This system allows people to move through and view most of the area without severely impacting the more sensitive natural areas.
About 20 per cent of the land base is set aside for income generating activities. Most of this is for agroforestry activities that do not require cultivation. About 2 hectares will be cultivated utilizing techniques that preserve the integrity of the soil.
The overall objective is to have a self-sustaining system where enough income is generated on site to maintain the park.
In addition to this greenspace, two gardens are being developed that feature native plants: the Native Plant Demonstration Garden and the Harvest Woods Garden.
There are two main phases to the restoration program. First, the area, which has been seriously degraded by logging and agriculture practices, is being restored by removing invasive, exotic plants, and replanting with native species. Second, a system of trails and viewing stations will be constructed that provides users a “look but don’t touch” access to the land.
Restoration activities involve both volunteer work and grants. Volunteers contributed about 300 hours of work in 1997 when activities were begun, and by 2000 were logging more than 1,800 volunteer hours a year.