Art + Science = Conservation

Thanks to support from the Greenest City Grants program, SPES’s Youth4Nature program is making a difference for wildlife habitats in Stanley Park. Every second weekend, youth can join our community EcoStewards volunteers to remove invasive plants from Stanley Park’s forests, replacing them with native species to support homes for wildlife. Then, using the discarded plants, youth weave baskets and fencing to be re-used in the restoration sites for ground stabilization and planting.

English ivy and Himalayan blackberry are the most pervasive invaders. If you have visited Lost Lagoon in the past few months, you may have noticed a change in the foliage surrounding the lake. Blackberry had taken over the shore reducing native habitat for the breeding birds and obscuring the view. SPES’s EcoStewards teams have been hard at work since September removing the thorny thickets and clearing most of the south shore!

SPES EcoStewards attack a blackberry thicket along Lost Lagoon (Photo: SPES)

Blackberry removal opens up this area for native plants to move in and regrow. Often when blackberry grows into an area it takes over completely, blocking out many of the native plant species. The resulting monoculture reduces the biodiversity and health of the ecosystem, including reducing the types of birds that can nest in this area. By restoring these sites, we can drastically increase the habitat availability for many native birds who use Stanley Park to rear their chicks.

Native plants will fill in the blackberry site and enhance biodiversity at Lost Lagoon. (Photo: SPES)

Some of the blackberry stems are dried and later woven into fencing to protect restored sites. The dried vines of invasive English ivy, also removed by youth during the EcoStewards events, is repurposed into woven products during Youth4Nature weaving events like the one recently held at the Stanley Park Dining Pavilion.

Youth 4 Nature weavers display their creations. (Photo: Jeannine Johnstone/SPES)

Under expert guidance from EartHand Gleaners, the youth re-purposed invasive English ivy into baskets to be used as planters at the restoration sites in the Park. Robert Yelton of the Squamish Nation accompanied the weavers and shared stories of his experiences in Stanley Park, a traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

Would you like to take part in the restoration of Lost Lagoon’s shores? Join us at our “Wet & Wild!” Earth Day Celebration on April 27 and get your hands dirty to support wetland wildlife, or register for EcoStewards on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of each month. Youth4Nature encourages anyone between the ages of 13 and 30 to test their weaving skills at our free weaving workshops in Stanley Park. Learn more and register for our next weaving workshop, March 23, at http://stanleyparkecology.ca/event/upcycling-weaving-invasive-plants-workshop-ages-13-30/2019-03-23/ .

Many thanks to the Greenest City Grant program for supporting this Youth 4 Nature project.