Somenos Ecosystem Stewardship Project Restoration Activities

The Somenos Ecosystem Stewardship Project had a tremendous impact on reducing invasive species and promoting the growth of native plant species.

The Somenos Ecosystem Stewardship Project was a 3-year project done by the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society beginning in April 2016 and completing in March 2019. This project included improving ecosystem services in the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area (SMCA) through invasive plant removal, native planting, raising awareness of its ecosystems and the important biodiversity in the Cowichan Valley. This projects target included completing ecological restoration on at least 2 hectares of land in the SMCA and planting at least 2000 native plants into the ecosystem.

Native Planting and Invasive Removal:

A predominant native species in the Cowichan Valley is the Tall Woolly-heads (Psilocarphus elatior). This species inhabits dried beds of vernal pools and other open, moist areas.  The Tall Wooly-heads were observed in spring 2017 in which a trial smothering was completed to reduce competition from non-native plants. The smothering treatment was considered a success for reducing the competition for Tall Wooly-heads and it was decided to increase the smothering trial by tripling the area to receive treatment over the winter of 2018/2019.

The reduction of Yellow Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus) in the Open Marsh was successful by excavator in 2017. Yellow Flag Iris is dense and stands in wet areas, threatens animal and plant diversity and is particularly bad for out-competing with native species. Another invasive species that was decreased during this project was the Himalayan Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus). By doing a thorough sweep of blackberry removal at the OAC, including digging out of root crowns, we are securing that the native plantings have the best chance of success. The area will continue to receive invasive removal recognition through volunteer events into the future.

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) and English Hawthorne (Crataegus laevigata) are invasive species that were reduced during this project, and will be continued to be monitored. In March of 2019, the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society partnered with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to host an event for the Garry Oak Meadow Marathon. A volunteer event was hosted at the Somenos Garry Oak Protected Area, 14 volunteers assisted to the removal of invasive Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparious) in the delicate meadow habitat, which contains multiple species-at-risk.

Summary of Project Impact:

In conclusion, the Somenos Ecosystem Stewardship Project had substantial impact in improving the ecosystems of the Somenos Marsh Conservation Area. The following numbers apply to the entirety of the Somenos Ecosystem Stewardship.

•             Area surveyed for invasive plants: 22 hectares

•             Area where management actions were taken: 3.3 hectares

•             Number of volunteer events: 12

•             Total volunteers participating: 121

•             Total volunteer hours: 322

•             Number of native seeds sown: 300,000 +

•             Number of potted plants planted: 507

•             Amount of invasive plants removed: 33 metric tons +


Special thanks to the Municipality of North Cowichan for their support of the project.

This project was undertaken with the financial support of:

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Sources:

The Somenos Ecosystem Stewardship Project Report by Elizabeth Aitken of the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society 2018

https://wildlife-species.canada.ca/species-risk-registry/species/speciesDetails_e.cfm?sid=685

https://bcinvasives.ca/invasive-species/identify/invasive-plants/yellow-flag-iris

Article by Erin Rowland

Elizabeth Aitken