Published on: April 22, 2017 | Last Updated: April 22, 2017 5:47 PM PDT
Volunteers with the Stanley Park Ecology Society play a game of absurdist volleyball, using a net and ball woven from English ivy, at Earth Day festivities at the park in Vancouver on Saturday.
A group that usually works in the “deepest, darkest recesses” of Stanley Park stepped into the light Saturday for an Earth Day event meant to educate the public about conservation efforts in the 405-hectare public park.
From a tent beside Lost Lagoon, the Stanley Park Ecology Society marshalled volunteers to uproot invasive plants, place nest baskets for threatened birds and weave erosion-control netting.
“You might stumble upon us on a trail, but it’s not always obvious what we’re doing,” SPES executive director Patricia Thomson told Postmedia News. “Earth Day is a chance to pull together and put a spotlight on the work we do.”
Artist Sharon Kallis was on-hand to demonstrate ivy-weaving to a group of volunteers. After stripping the leaves from a long section of invasive English ivy that was earlier removed from the park, she began knitting the branches together to make a net. The finished product will be dried in the sun for about eight weeks to ensure it won’t re-root when it’s used to hold soil and organic matter on a newly planted slope.
“I love the idea of using unwanted plants to benefit the park,” said Kallis, executive director of the EartHand Gleaners Society.
The netting has been used at three sites in the park since 2009, with a 40-per-cent success rate, she said. A slope near Pipeline Road was recently transformed from a rocky wasteland into a lush hillside alive with native plants.
SPES stewardship co-ordinator Kari Pocock said more than 80 invasive species have been found in Stanley Park, but volunteers are focused on a “hit list” of about 20 plants, including purple loosestrife and yellow flag iris. The goal is often management rather than complete eradication in tough cases like blackberries and ivy, she said.
Pocock said she’s optimistic about the work being done: “I just imagine what it would look like if we weren’t doing it, and I know it’s making a difference.”
Meanwhile, at Mill Lake in Abbotsford, it was the first year for an Earth Day event showcasing the work of several environmental groups and green businesses.
“Today was an opportunity for people to look at the different problems and some of the ways we might address them, as well as showing all the ways to get involved,” said organizer John Vissers.
Earth Day also got political in some cities, with thousands of scientists and supporters participating in the March for Science. Almost 1,000 people marched to Science World in Vancouver on Saturday morning, including Ron Eichler.
The lawyer, whose mother is a chemist, wanted to protest government muzzling of scientists and the public rejection of established science, such as climate change.
“I see what’s going on in the U.S. and I think we need to take a stand against that,” he said, referencing funding cuts to scientific research.
Marches were held on Earth Day in about 600 cities in 68 countries around the world, with the main event in Washington, D.C.
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