Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Climate change wasn't new in the 20th century

"We had better be without gold than without timber."
Horticulturalist John Evelyn wrote this in 1664 (in England), already fearing the day all the forests would have disappeared, and presumably urging conservation of this most valuable resource.
Alexander von Humboldt in 18th century Germany, warned against the deforestation he saw in Europe, Russia and South America, for fuel and ship building. He, one of our earliest ecologists, saw how deforestation changed both soils and rainfall. Climate change started long before our own era.  it wasn't and still isn't fundamentally about emissions, it's about Earth losing her forest cover and the cooling and the hydrologic cycle that goes with it.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Should We Reward Green or Grey?

The reason we lose nature in the city, is that landscape destruction is rewarded and preservation penalized..
Person A has a large property, but taxes and upkeep are too expensive and the property is subdivided.
Person A couldn't afford to preserve the green space -- maybe they are seniors who bought the lot when a modest income was enough to acquire housing, but now a pension isn't enough on which to maintain it.
Person B can afford to buy the original property and THEN subdivides and builds. Person B nets a profit triple what the value of the whole property was ten years earlier.

Property assessments are based on what a homeowner could make if s/he were to subdivide and sell off chunks of land. They take no account of people wanting to preserve their gardens, people who view their real estate as a home, not a commodity. Until we have a municipal taxation system which gives a tax BREAK to those who preserve private green space -- which after all benefits everyone in terms of aesthetics, air cleansing, habitat maintenance etc. -- we will promote the pave-over of the city. Victoria now rewards those who build "garden houses" to supply the rental market (even though these builders build for top rental dollar, not to help the "affordable housing crisis"). Whatever is scarce is going to command a good price, and that's the motivation for paving and building.

In a region undergoing rapid population growth, either we put the brakes on by limiting accommodation, or we adopt policies that increase public green space and reward those who protect private green space. Do we want green or grey? That is the question.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

BC Orca Month June:

BC Orca Month June:


Saturday January 21st


Turkey Head Walkway, Oak Bay Marina

Remembering Granny, Nigel, DoubleStuf,  Tilikum,  Lolita,  Corky, with candles and flowers

News and information on Orca Month June 2017

Join us - learn what's next, bring your ideas


Friday, January 6, 2017

Winter tree at dusk

Good proportion! Tall tree and cosy cottage, Oaklands area.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Two Views of Ivy

Eighteenth century British garden designer Humphry Repton wrote in Transactions of the Linnaean Society that ivy helps trees by keeping them warm in winter. He cites examples of old trees flourishing under blankets of ivy. Modern German forester Peter Wohlleben takes another view: he notes some trees in the forest he manages being choked by ivy when its trunks grow as thick as small trees themselves. As with everything in nature and gardening, it seems to be a matter of balance and moderation. Nature sends ivy out to harvest sunlight and create oxygen-producing greenery, and ivy is happy to do this even on rock face and brick walls. On oaks it chooses the non-leafy trunk, and provides raccoon habitat at the same time, as well as little funnels and cups in which rainwater collects for birds to sip.

So, young ivy helps more than it harms, and it would seem that the gardener's job is to keep it in check, rather than waste time and resources on all-out anti-ivy war. Better to fight the damage done by humans lopping branches and clearing "diseased" trees that someone says will fall on their roof.

Is it a question of displacement of attention when the real danger is too onerous to tackle? Protecting individual trees against another plant easier than confronting the reality that the whole urban forest is being  demolished by development? To quote another British author (Alan Bennett): "All architects are butchers". They kill just to clear the space before they begin their creations.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Why set fire to Uplands Park?

When someone sets fire to a park, who gets burnt to death? What nests, burrows and
habitats are destroyed?
How often does lightning start forest fires on southern Vancouver Island (Garry oak territory)? Pretty much never. That's how much it is needed by nature,  so why do some now want to start unnatural fires artificially? It's due it seems to a theory about what aboriginal people once did.
Human interference with nature is always a bad idea. Why reduce a park to ashes? It causes air pollution and ugliness and tacitly encourages arson. And in a residential area?!
Let's hope Oak Bay has more sense than to go for this; it has an acrid smell of political correctness hanging over it.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Golden Oak Recipient, 2016

The "golden oak" prize is a peer-created official-free recognition given to someone in the CRD whose work for conservation and heritage inspires others. Deborah Dickson has received it for her work over many years for Haro Woods and latterly for the campaign to make the southern Salish Sea a protected area and eventual UNESCO BIOSPHERE reserve. To find out more about this initiative at

Deborah inspires by reminding us how the rivers, estuaries and oceans, the land and the sea creatures, mammals, trees and salmon are all linked in the living Biosphere. She received her "golden" oak and her living oak seedling at a gathering at Oak Bay Beach Hotel on November 19th.