This past May, seven Parks Canada ecologists from all over Canada paid a visit to SPES while in town for a general meeting. Their timing proved lucky as both SPES and Parks Canada are in the midst of updating reports on the ecological integrity of their respective parks – akin to a medical report, but for our natural spaces. Updating the report provides us with a complete inventory of all living things in the Park, from the tiniest plankton floating past the seawall to the tallest Douglas fir trees.
SPES’ “medical report” for Stanley Park is called the “State of the Park Report for Ecological Integrity in Stanley Park” (SOPEI). SPES’s first SOPEI, based on Parks Canada ecological integrity reports, was published in 2010 and is currently being updated by our Conservation team. The visiting Parks Canada ecologists who are tasked with monitoring ecological integrity for Parks Canada, visited with us to learn about SPES’s approach to ecological integrity monitoring, indicator selection and long-term monitoring sites established by SPES within Stanley Park.
SPES Conservation Projects Manager, staff and volunteers presented an update on the approach to the 2017 SOPEI renewal and led the ecologists on a site visit to long-term monitoring sites within the Park. Highlights of the visit included presentations by Megan Spencer, a devoted SPES volunteer and University of Victoria (UVic) student and Vanessa Smith, SPES Conservation Technician, tasked with all things SOPEI. Megan presented her UVic Natural Systems Restoration Diploma Project on measuring forest productivity through monitoring red huckleberry production, and led the ecologists on a site visit to one of her huckleberry monitoring plots.
Megan’s project will be included as a long-term ecological integrity indicator measure in the renewed SOPEI. Vanessa Smith presented the results of her analysis of data collected by SPES on multiple species since 2010 to date, which will serve as important baseline information against which future SOPEI ecological integrity monitoring may be measured.
This visit was an amazing opportunity for SPES staff to discuss some of the successes and challenges in designing a second draft of SOPEI with this field of experts from a variety of backgrounds, all tied to our National Parks. SPES is very grateful to have benefited from the ecologists’ generosity in sharing their expert advice and time, and we hope they – like us – enjoyed the fruitful and friendly discussions.
By Maria Egerton, Conservation Projects Manager