Protecting and enhancing the natural values of Salt Spring Island and its surrounding waters

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Caring for Your Land

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Caring for Your Land 2017-03-20T10:25:45+00:00

We live in one of the rarest natural areas in Canada: the Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem. This ecosystem is located in a narrow strip of low-lying land along the southeastern coast of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and parts of the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast.

On Salt Spring Island, about 75% of the land is privately owned. That means private landowners have a vital part in preserving this rare ecosystem. To be a steward is to care for something of value. Land stewardship is about protecting the natural features and species we have on our land and restoring habitat that has been altered.

Stewardship Checklist – things you can do to care for your property and wildlife that live there:

  • Learn about your land: identify its natural features and the species that live there over the year.
  • Preserve existing native trees, shrubs and standing dead trees where possible. Let natural debris (fallen trees and leaves) decompose in woodland areas. This creates habitat, retains moisture and improves the soil.
  • Minimize the number of trees and shrubs removed for view and construction. Prune tree limbs rather than removing entire trees.
  • Create a deer and rabbit exclusion zone and landscape with native plants to reduce the need for watering.
  • Control invasive plants such as Scotch broom, gorse, English ivy, spurge laurel and garden escapees such as holly, dead nettle (Lamium) and periwinkle. Avoid planting invasive species.
  • Avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers and any type of pesticide. Use non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning and grooming products.
  • Protect and restore vegetation along streams, lakes and ocean to prevent excessive runoff from washing nutrients into water bodies where they pollute the water.
  • Conserve water by collecting and storing rainwater, practicing efficient irrigation and minimizing the use of impervious surfaces such as asphalt and concrete.
  • Add bird and bat boxes, bird baths, ponds for amphibians, decaying logs for small mammals and salamanders, and brush or rock piles for reptiles.
  • Keep your cat indoors or within a small fenced area. A free-roaming domestic cat can kill hundreds of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and other insects each year.

Protecting the Shoreline – resources for people living on ocean or lake shores:

Handbook for Waterfront Living

Working Near Water: What You Need to Know when Planning a Project in or Near Water

Islands Trust – check out local bylaws about working in or near water

Protecting and Enhancing Habitatadvice on protecting the natural values on your property and improving habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife:

Living with Nature – A guide for new property owners on Salt Spring Island to acquaint you with local resources and suggest way to retain biodiversity on your property.

Salt Spring Island Species at Risk – A list of the Species at Risk on Salt Spring with stewardship suggestions for property owners.

A Sensitive Ecosystem Guide for Islands Trust Area Property Owners 

Grow Me Instead – Native Plant Growing Guide

Property Development and Building – resources to help you preserve the natural landscape and place your buildings to reduce environmental impact:

Sustainability Checklist

Develop with Care: Environmental Guidelines for Urban and Rural Land Development in British Columbia

Protecting Garry Oak Ecosystems during Land Development

Working near Water: What You Need to Know when Planning a Project in or Near Water

Gardening with Nature  – local ecology, gardening with native and drought resistant plants, and avoiding invasive species that threaten native ecosystems:

Ecology of the Coastal Douglas-fir Zone

The Garry Oak Gardener’s Handbook

Gardening with Native Plants