Eco-tour hope, foreboding, joy

Recent eco-tours of the Garden City Lands prompted hope, foreboding, joy.


The hope was from the eco-tour participants. More than ever before, there were Richmond residents who speak Chinese languages, especially Cantonese, and the enthusiasm was palpable. They included Alice Wong, Richmond’s Member of Parliament, who is wearing a red jacket above. There were also at least twenty-four young adults with inquiring minds about the future of flourishing peatlands, biodiversity, and local food growing. There will be a time when the whole community embraces those values, but there needs to be a race to develop a critical mass of defenders before ecological barbarians plunder the Garden City Lands for imagined gain that destroys the incredible potential forever.


The foreboding was from another threat to the lands that is taking over from within. It is invasive species, which Michael Wolfe is talking about in the above photo, with suitable disgusted looks on his face and Dr. Wong’s. In some parts, Scotch heather is dominant, and it has advanced alarmingly in the past year or so. Highbush blueberries (not the native bog blueberries) are a scourge of the Richmond Nature Park on the eastern side of the Lulu Island Bog, and they are taking hold on the Garden City Lands. Even though the lands were moved last fall, a typical example of what we see now is a highbush blueberry already towering over a bog laurel, a species that is endangered on the lands. It is as though a tall thug is about to mug an unsuspecting little neighbour. Birches, weed trees that the annual mowing has controlled, were shooting up fast, and I was reminded that they’re one key factor in the irrevocable decline of the bog ecosystem of the rest of the Lulu Island Bog, which has become bog forest.


The joy was from the discovery of flourishing areas of sphagnum moss well west of where we’d seen them before, and there was one excited call after another from a group I was in as people discovered vibrantly green patches and sphagnum hummocks raising the bog level as they should do when a raised bog is doing its thing. It was a bit like this year’s sockeye run after almost two decades of decline—but just a bit that way, since the sphagnum moss gains are less striking and more precarious. Even more than the salmon, though, the sphagnum is the foundation of an ecosystem.


What next? We know roughly what’s needed, but what are the very best next steps? Let’s think about it and address it well soon.


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    April Says:

    And should we pave the whole thing, we will not have the opportunity to discover these “internal struggles” with the part of our natural world we have given up to comforts. Thanks a thousand times to Michael Wolfe for having the vision to not only see this but to pass it on to others.

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