Stewardship is the care of the land, air, water, and biodiversity that surrounds and sustains us. Through big and small actions, we all have a role to play as stewards in the capital region. This section describes stewardship actions that you can take to protect our natural ecosystems. seastar

Stewardship is at the core of the UN Decade on Ecological Restoration, which runs 2021-2030. This proclamation is a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of humanity and nature. Over the course of this decade, people around the world will work together to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean.

In Greater Victoria, partners are supporting the UN Decade by working together to respond to the growing need for ecological restoration within our region. Led by the University of Victoria, local partners will collaborate regionally on a collective push to raise awareness of ecosystem restoration in our region, and will support hands-on action by regional agencies and residents.

You can use resources and content within this section to learn more about how to support ecological restoration and stewardship across the capital region.

Restoration

The capital region is home to rich ecosystems and biodiversity. Over time, human activity such as the construction of roads, neighbourhoods, and farms has degraded and fragmented these ecosystems. Other factors like climate change, invasive species, and air and water pollution have compounded the impacts of habitat destruction.

One solution to habitat loss is ecological restoration: the act of assisting in the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged, or destroyed. Individual actions across the capital region can help to restore our ecosystems.

Take Action:

  • learn more about the natural habitats in your area and share with neighbours and friends.
  • prevent pollution on your property that can damage wildlife and habitat.
  • if you are building, consider the species on your land and how you can preserve habitat for them.
  • consider the value of natural systems in your development.
  • enhance native species with native plantings and preservation of established trees and shrubs.
  • learn about and remove invasive species.
  • get involved in local stewardship groups to learn more and actively participate in restoration.

Prevent Erosion

Erosion is the action of wind and water as it moves sand, soil and rocks from one location to another. Vegetation offers a natural barrier to erosion as plants and trees hold onto sediments even during heavy rainfalls. Human actions like construction, vegetation removal, soil compaction, impervious surfaces and over-watering can alter, impede, or accelerate natural erosion, with negative impacts to waterways, the marine environment, and aquatic life.

Take action:

  • retain native trees, shrubs and grasses as much as possible, especially near waterways.
  • consider a living fence made from vegetation to stabilize and absorb flows.
  • when walking in the forest or along shorelines, stay on designated trails.
  • minimize impervious surfaces to allow water to naturally absorb and reduce runoff.
  • use native vegetation instead of a seawall. Keep shorelines natural and leave natural materials like driftwood on beaches.
  • Learn about Green Shores principles for preventing shoreline erosion.

Protect & Restore Water Quality

The water quality of our local rivers, creeks, lakes and marine ecosystems is vulnerable to pollution from oils, gasoline, pesticides, fertilizers and sewage from broken sewer lines or septic systems. These pollutants can impact water quality by altering:

  • Nutrients (e.g. nitrates and phosphates), which are required for plant growth but in excess can cause algae blooms that rob the water of oxygen
  • Dissolved oxygen, which is important for aquatic organisms such as fish and invertebrates
  • pH, a measurement of whether the water is acidic or basic, and determines what organisms can survive
  • Pollutants such as metals, pesticides and PCBs, that can enter the water and be taken up by plants and animals

Our waterways also are harmed by sudden changes in water flows. Increased impervious and paved surfaces in our region result in rapid run-off of large quantities of precipitation. This run-off results in sudden "flash floods' that can damage stream channels and cause erosion, turbidity and degrade fish habitat. With increasing rain events due to climate change this problem will become more pronounced and can result in habitat loss and property destruction.

Take Action:

  • Never dispose of chemicals down storm drains, which lead directly to creeks and streams
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides and fertilizers
  • Learn about natural gardening techniques
  • Wash your car on the lawn to prevent detergents from flowing into the storm drain
  • Reduce impervious surfaces around your home with bricks or other alternatives that allow rain to absorb rather than run off
  • Sweep with a broom, rather than pressure washing
  • Disconnect your downspouts and install a rain garden or rain barrel
  • Get involved in a community stewardship group

Protect & Enhance Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the term used for the incredible variety of life on Earth - from the smallest microbes to the tallest coastal rainforests. It is essential to the function of ecosystems and to the continuation of life on earth. Ecosystems produce oxygen, purify the air and water, store and cycle freshwater, regulate the climate, form topsoil and produce raw materials, foods and medicines. These services can not be replaced by human technology. 

There are many threats to biodiversity today. Activities such as urban expansion, logging and shoreline modification remove habitat and change the landscape so that fewer plants and animals can live there. Invasive species also compete with native plants and animals and reduce their habitat and food supply. Pollution from chemicals and sewage is toxic to many species and hampers their survival.  

Take action:
  • purchase goods and services from environmentally responsible companies
  • use natural gardening techniques and plant native species
  • remove invasives from your property and community property
  • maintain habitat on your property such as trees, and natural shorelines
  • reduce pollution by driving less, and keeping your car properly tuned and maintained

Manage Invasive Species

Invasive species are plants, animals and microbes that are not native to a region and that tend to out-compete native species for available resources. They often form dense populations and dominate ecosystems. After habitat loss, invasive species are considered to be the second greatest threat to global biological diversity.

Priority invasive species pose the greatest environmental threats. These species are typically new to a region or that haven't spread too far to control or eradicate. Prevention and early detection/rapid response are two of the most important actions to successfully manage invasive species and their impacts.

Take Action:

  • Learn more about priority invasive species
  • Remove and safely dispose of invasive species on your property
  • Volunteer with a invasive species pulling group
  • Get involved in local stewardship groups to learn more and actively participate in restoration