The Horticulture Center of the Pacific Conservation Park includes the HCP land not in use for gardens and support facilities. This is about 90 per cent of the 42-hectare (103-acre) site. It includes all the land outside of the fence and about half of the area inside the fence.
The HCP conservation park is 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.
The Douglas Fir Forest
About 35 per cent of this is either second growth Douglas fir forest or open areas with good potential for specialists to restore and to maintain as greenspace. There is a vision of developing a community organization where many of the landowners commit to managing their land in a way that restores and preserves the forests and riparian characteristics of the area.
The primary aim 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 in use by people. Within this setting recreation activities, income production, and education functions are still possible.
The HCP site
Indeed, specialists intend to ecologically rehabilitate about 70 per cent of the HCP site. This includes the 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. Workers will cultivate about 2 hectares utilizing techniques that preserve the integrity of the soil.
The overall objective is to have a self-sustaining system that generates enough income on site to maintain the park.
Two Native Plant Gardens
In addition to this greenspace, gardeners are developing two gardens that feature native plants:-
- The Native Plant Demonstration Garden
- The Harvest Woods Garden
There are two main phases to the restoration program. Firstly, specialists will restore the area that has been seriously degraded by logging and agriculture practices. So, this involves removing invasive, exotic plants, and replanting with native species. Secondly, the workers will construct a system of trails and viewing stations that provide users with 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 began. Indeed, by the year 2000, volunteers were logging more than 1,800 hours a year.
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