Local Restoration Volunteer Opportunities
These are groups that are actively working in ecological restoration within and surrounding South Vancouver Island. Each group is a great contact for volunteer opportunities and questions about restoration.
Saanich Parks and Pulling Together Program
The District of Saanich has expressed its commitment to preventing and controlling the colonization of invasive species within Saanich Parks; with particular attention paid to those species that cause specific threat to human and ecosystem health. The Invasive Species Management Strategy was developed to outline goals and guidelines to meet these goals. The Saanich Pulling Together Program is another vital component of keeping natural areas in Saanich healthy. The program brings community members together to restore and help protect many sites through volunteer work parties and monitoring.
Project Reclaim is a youth-driven, land-based project that will engage youth from the Tsartlip Nation to lead their community in healing from, resisting, and preventing violence through two key, interconnected program components:
1) youth-led land restoration to create greener, healthier community spaces, and
2) the youth-led development and delivery of culturally relevant violence prevention curricula in middle and high schools.
Together, these program components will work to foster safer communities free from violence. Project Reclaim uses a mentorship model, through which Tsartlip youth will be supported by and learn from elders and community mentors. This intergenerational project will be implemented by the hands of all willing community members of WSANEC nation (Tsartlip, Tseycum, Tsawout and Pauquachin). Through Project Reclaim, we will make public spaces in the Tsartlip community safer, healthier, and more accessible for all community members.
Peninsula Stream Society
Peninsula Streams Society helps coordinate stream restoration and habitat conservation on the Saanich Peninsula of Vancouver Island, BC. Their goal is to achieve healthy aquatic habitat that supports self-sustaining populations of native species in both freshwater and marine environments. We accomplish this objective through research, restoration, innovative projects, public education and private land stewardship.
Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary
Swan Lake is a protected lake ecosystem that encompasses the adjoining marsh lowland and the rocky, Garry-oak forested highlands of Christmas Hill. Once used as a dumpsite, it now serves as an important refuge for many native animals and plants. The nature house is the heart of the educational facility, which is the starting and end point for many habitat tours. Education is an important component of the sanctuary mandate. The sanctuary educates community members about urban habitats and the species that rely on these important ecosystems. Volunteers are especially important at Swan Lake and help with a number of tasks from native plant gardening to invasive species management and research. Additionally they host a bird walk every Wednesday and Sunday and native plant sale every Spring.
Greater Victoria Green Team
The Greater Victoria Green Team engages the community to care for nature! They are an environmental volunteer group that enhances, protects and conserves parks and habitat throughout Greater Victoria.
The GVGT is a regional-wide environmental volunteer program and is part of the National Charity Green Teams of Canada (http://www.GreenTeamsCanada.ca ). They are a group of people from all over the Greater Victoria area who get together to help restore our local environment in the Capital Regional District. They work with Municipal and Provincial Parks, Charities, Non-profit organizations, Societies, the University of Victoria, and Stewardship and Watershed groups to tackle environmental issues through co-operation and teamwork. They also volunteer at farms to promote local sustainable agriculture. Gloves and tools will be supplied as well as refreshments! All ages are welcome and no experience is necessary. If you care about the environment, local food security, and meeting other passionate people then this is the group for you!
Fort Rodd Hill Garry Oak Learning Meadow and Conservation Garden
Parks Canada is restoring endangered Garry oak ecosystems at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site by removing invasive plants and replacing them with the native species normally found there. Plants such as Scotch broom, spurge-laurel and others compete with native plants for important habitat. They often win out unless they are kept in check. There are volunteer opportunities to help pull invasives and learn about Garry oak ecosystems and native plant species from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays twice a month.
Friends of Uplands Park
The Friends of Uplands Park (FOUP) originated in 2009 to create opportunities for stewardship, education and inspiration in Uplands Park. Their mandate is to:
Support initiatives for protecting the ecosystems of Uplands Park
- Educate our community on the natural and cultural history of Uplands Park.
- Celebrate the creativity inspired by Uplands Park.
- Facilitate research/documentation focusing on Uplands Park
- Seek out local knowledge about Uplands Park.
FOUP is consistently hosting weekly restoration events which are updated on their Facebook page.
There exist many opportunities to volunteer in CRD parks. The Regional Parks Volunteer Services program offers a variety of opportunities to become involved in the â€œpreservation and enjoyment of regional parks and trails.â€ There are workshops open to community members as well as short-term and long-term volunteer opportunities.
- Workshops: Native plant gardening
- Short-term Volunteer Positions: Summer Naturalists, Trail Ambassadors, Restoration Volunteers, Event Volunteers, Community Group Volunteers, Work Experience Volunteers and Special Projects Volunteers
- Long-term Volunteer Positions: Wardens, Naturalists, Gatekeepers and Beekeepers
Rithet’s Bog Conservation Society
The Rithet’s Bog Conservation Area is situated on the southeast end of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. It is a Saanich municipal park and nature sanctuary located in Broadmead, just to the northeast of the Quadra / Pat Bay Highway overpass. The park encompasses an area of 38 hectares and has a 2.8 kilometer graveled walking trail. There are a wide variety of wetland habitats such as seasonal open water, mudflat, marsh, swamp, fen, wet meadow and bog-forest, as well as some upland Garry Oak meadow and Douglas Fir forest.
There are weekly opportunities to support restoration which can be found on their Facebook page.
Friends of Bowker Creek Society
We are working towards realizing a vision where the varied human uses and natural areas in the Bowker watershed are managed to minimize runoff and pollution, making Bowker Creek a healthy stream that supports habitat for native vegetation and wildlife, and provides a community greenway to connect neighbourhoods.
Specifically, our objectives are to:
- Enhance, restore, and protect Bowker Creek and green-space in the watershed,
- Raise community awareness of the watershed,
- Focus community-based action on the environment and,
- Develop a continuous protected riparian corridor along Bowker Creek
Friends of North Saanich Park
Our mission is to create stewardships for each park in North Saanich. There are 24 parks in North Saanich in need of restoring. We are removing invasive plant species out of these parks while building relationships within the community. We hope to remove all the invasive plant species out of a series of parks per year as well as support the development of stewardships for these parks.
There are regular volunteer opportunities posted on the Facebook page.
Local Conservation Groups
These groups include land conservancies, “Friends of” groups, and other local stewardship initiatives. All listed organizations offer different kinds of educational and volunteer opportunities.
Habitat Acquisition Trust
The Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) is a non-profit, regional land trust that works to permanently protect land in three ways: land acquisition through purchase or donation, conservation covenants, and education and stewardship. Working with communities, schools, and individual landowners, HAT helps to enhance habitat protection on private land. HAT also establishes permanent legal conservation covenants of natural habitat through land purchases, donations of property and landowners. Volunteers can contribute through a variety of roles, from removing invasive species to helping in the office.
The Land Conservancy of BC
The Land Conservancy (TLC) is a non-profit, membership-based charitable Land Trust working throughout BC, protecting important habitat and properties with significant historical, cultural, scientific, scenic or compatible recreational value. When properties are purchased by TLC they are protected in perpetuity. Some properties around Victoria that are protected under TLC include Abkhazi Garden, Madrona Farm and Sooke Potholes. Volunteers are the lifeblood of TLC and are integrated into all aspects of the operations including Board of Directors, office workers, gardeners, legal and real-estate advisors and field crews. The website contains a list of all the volunteer positions currently available.
Bowker Creek Initiative
The Bowker Creek Initiative (BCI) is a collaboration between local governments, community groups, post-secondary institutions and private citizens to improve the health of Bowker Creek and its watershed. The BCI was established to address concerns about flooding, pollution and degradation of Bowker Creek. The vision of the BCI is to minimize runoff and pollution from both human and natural areas to return the stream to its previously healthy state so it can provide habitat for native species and a greenway to connect neighborhoods. The BCI developed the Bowker Creek Watershed Management Plan (2003) and the Bowker Creek Blueprint – A 100 Year Plan (2012) for actions to restore the Bowker Creek watershed.
Coastal Invasive Plant Committee
The go to for information on invasive species on the coast. The Coastal Invasive Plant Committee (CIPC) is a non-profit society serving geographic areas of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and the Regional Districts of Powell River, Mount Waddington and Strathcona, occurring on the mainland coast. CIPC work to minimize the impacts associated with invasive alien plants through a number of initiatives. The CIPC educate community members and land managers about the impacts of invasive plants, and promote cross-jurisdictional coordination and integrated invasive plant management. They also seek to assist land managers with their invasive-plant management objectives.
Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society
This group serves as the voice for Mount Douglas Park. It was formed to conserve the natural state of the park and to preserve the original park boundaries set out by Sir James Douglas in 1889. Major projects, such as the Pacific Salmon Foundation (PSF) Douglas Creek Restoration Project in 2009, have taken place within the park to restore degraded habitats. The PSF Douglas Creek Restoration Project involved major work of woody debris installation and the development of riffles. These features were once present prior to the creek’s disturbance from human sources. Past volunteer participation has included activities such as the release of thousands of chum salmon, invasive species removal and tree plantings.
Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team
The Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team (GOERT) was formed in 1999 to coordinate efforts to protect and restore endangered Garry oak, associated ecosystems, and the species at risk that inhabit them. Within GOERT are Recovery Implementation Groups (RIGs) that work to collect science-based information necessary for biotic recovery, minimize ongoing site and species loss, and motivate public and private protection and stewardship activities.
Island Pollinator Initiative
The IPI is a coalition group chaired by Pollinator Partnership Canada (P2C). The purpose of the Initiative is to facilitate collaboration, event and information sharing, outreach, and action to promote protection of native and managed pollinators on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.
Native Plant Study Group
The Native Plant Study Group is dedicated to learning about the native plants of British Columbia as wild populations and in garden settings, while promoting their use and conservation. Their diverse membership ranges from biologists to hobby gardeners, from horticulturists to plant enthusiasts.
General meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month from September to May (except December) and feature a speaker, draw for native plants and discussion.
Places to Visit
All of these locations have at least one thing in common – they are awesome representations of how people can work with nature. There are many approaches of how we can connect to the Earth and there is no shortage of inspiring places to visit locally.
Saanich Native Plants
Saanich Native Plants offers a wide selection of plants and seeds that are native to southern Vancouver Island. Plants are propagated from their own stock and are local in origin. Saanich Native Plants resides on the Coast Salish Territories of the W̱SÁNEĆ Peoples. Saanich Native Plants provides consultation to private landowners and land managers in selecting appropriate species, planting methods, site preparation, and maintenance. We are happy to accommodate custom orders. Having been part of Haliburton Community Organic Farm since 2013, all plants and seeds are certified organic.
Glendale Gardens was started in 1979 and since then has transformed the previous agricultural land into nine acres of beautiful gardens and a 93-acre conservation park. Garden themes range from Takata and Zen gardens to rhododendron gardens. Glendale Gardens is also home to the Horticulture Centre of the Pacific (HCP) that was established in 1986. The Vantrieght Family Farms previously used the land for agricultural purposes and, as a result, much of the soil structure and composition was impacted. Volunteers can participate in a variety of activities, from guiding nature tours to gardening.
Haliburton Farms is a community organic farm, that function as a non-profit organization of farmers, neighbours, educators and community members. The focus is to practice sustainable and organic agriculture. Haliburton is a publicly owned farm within the Agricultural Land Reserve. At the farm restoration of ecosystem health is conducted alongside organic agriculture, serving as both a demonstration site and an educational facility. A restoration project currently underway is the Building a Wetland: Haliburton Farm Biodiversity Project. The project entails building small patches of natural habitat that can serve as reservoirs of biodiversity in the agricultural landscape. Volunteers serve an important role in the growth and functioning of the farm. Weekly work parties help take care of farming projects and tasks.
Madrona Farm is a productive, biologically diverse urban farm that specializes in growing organic food. Now protected by the Land Conservancy, Madrona Farm can be a functioning organic farm for many more years to come. This land has been in the Chambers family for over 50 years. Providing food for more than 3,500 people, Madrona Farm helps to improve food security on Vancouver Island. The farm produces a variety of products and serves as an important ecological site including wildlife ponds, and Douglas-fir and Garry oak ecosystems. Both paid and volunteer workers conduct farm work while learning about year-round organic food production.