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Native plants salvaged in City of Nanaimo program

A new initiative will help residents save Nanaimo’s native ecosystem and add to their own gardens.

The city’s parks, recreation and environment department is looking into a native plant salvage program, which would see volunteers trained to rescue plants from areas slated for development.

The initiative has already rolled out in other communities in Washington State and B.C., including the District of Saanich where participants in the volunteer program have grown from 27 to about 500 since 2001.

According to Rob Lawrance, the City of Nanaimo’s environmental planner, the program is a way to educate people about the natural ecosystem and why it’s important, as well as work with land owners to save native plants before development occurs. The idea would be to uproot plants, like trees and rose bushes, in certain areas and encourage residents to replant them as part of landscaping and restoration projects.

“There’s a lot of pressure from a number of invasives that’s removing that variety and genetic diversity we have in our parks,” Lawrance said. “So this is just one piece of probably a bigger plan to try to maintain that diversity of natural vegetation.”

Gail Adrienne, executive director of the Nanaimo Area Land Trust, believes people are becoming more conscious about the value of gardening with native plants, which don’t require water or pesticides. A new salvage program is “wonderful,” she said, adding plants will be used in other ways than just being bulldozed and the program would heighten awareness of landscaping with native plants.

The prospective program stems from Nanaimo’s Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability and is the brainchild of member Ted Perry, who believes the program could prove as popular as the initiative in Saanich. A pilot is expected to run this year and if successful, could be incorporated into the city’s Volunteer in Parks Program.

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