Lora Morandin, program manager in western Canada for the Pollinator Partnership, stands in a meadow near Lochside Trail that will undergo restoration later this summer. She is holding up a sweat bee. It – unlike the familiar honey bee – is native to the region and the pending restoration of the meadow promises to improve the number of native pollinators like the sweat bee, boosting ecological health and food production. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Buzz of activity fills Saanich meadow

Restoration efforts will remove invasive species near Lochside Trail

To the untrained eye, a small meadow along the Lochside Trail looks like an ordinary patch of overgrown grass.

But for Lora Morandin, program manager for Pollinator Partnership, it is full of invasive plant species that have undermined local ecological diversity.

With the exception of a few native grasses, shrubs and trees, invasive species have overrun the meadow. Once part of the Garry oak ecosystem that used to define the region, its defining feature is a transmission line tower. Later this summer though, efforts will get underway to restore the meadow by planting hundreds of native plants and a substantial variety of native plant seeds.

Ian Bruce, executive director of the Peninsula Streams Society, said the restoration will start in late August and continue through September.

“It will take about two years to fully bloom,” he said.

But it will be worth the wait.

For one, it will have esthetic benefits, he said. “I hope that people will learn more about an ecosystem that we used to have more of, and appreciate it.”

Morandin said it will help local insect and bird populations to flourish, as the current state of the meadow is not very attractive to those populations.

“Native pollinators are keystone species,” she said. “They are needed to pollinate things, but they are also needed as food for other animals. So we are just trying to increase insects and help the ecosystem.”

Benefactors of this restoration effort will include farmers in nearby Blenkinsop Valley. They will benefit from the increase in pollinator species that the meadow will attract, thereby helping to ensure crop production.

Students attending nearby Reynolds secondary school will also benefit by learning more about pollinators and associated plants. In fact, some have already begun lending a hand by helping Morandin survey the pollinator species using the meadow. This involves hovering over sections of meadow and recording insect species.

With their help, Morandin will be able to compare and contrast the number of pollinator species before and after the restoration. The meadow will also serve as a living lab for future students attending Reynolds.

Interpretive signs will offer additional information to the public, said Bruce.

Funding for the restoration project comes from a range of sources. They include the Victoria Real Estate Board ($5,000), a provincial community gaming grant ($5,000), BC Hydro ($10,000) and Don Mann Construction, who will contribute $20,000 in kind towards the project.

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