Nearly six acres of ecologically sensitive environment, bordering Sooke Hills Wilderness Park, will be preserved in perpetuity thanks to the generosity of Nitya and Scott Harris, and the collaborative support of the Metchosin Foundation, the Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) and the Cowichan Land Trust.
“Scott and I call this area Calypso Woods because of the profusion of exquisite calypso orchids that come up every spring,” says Nitya. “After nearly four years of coordinated work with partners, the Conservation Covenant is presently being registered in the land titles office.” This Douglas-fir forest acreage holds the headwaters of Bilston Creek that eventually flows over Sitting Lady Falls into Witty’s Lagoon, serving as a safe corridor for large carnivores, elk and other wildlife moving through the area.
The Harris land covenant is the latest result of the Metchosin Foundation’s mandate to protect land, native wildlife and plants, many of which are globally at risk, for future generations. Since its incorporation as a charitable society in 2008, the Foundation has worked with several landowners, contributing both financially and in-kind to create legacies of ecological sustainability in Metchosin.
A Conservation Covenant is a legal tool and an enforceable promise that has been widely utilized by property owners in partnership with the Metchosin Foundation to protect their land’s ecological legacy for future generations. The most important aspect of a Conservation Covenant is that it stays with the land in perpetuity. Any individual or party who purchases or inherits the land also takes on the original promise.
In BC, a number of land conservancy organizations act as covenant holders to ensure the terms of the agreement are being followed. In this municipality, the Metchosin Foundation works with the Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) and the The Land Conservancy (TLC). Each covenant can be tailored to suit the unique attributes of an individual piece of property and the requirements of the owner who grants the covenant. One might, for example, limit land use to organic farming or to sustainable forestry. Another option might make sure that undeveloped land stays undeveloped. Landowners, especially those involved in estate planning, should consider using this legal tool to seal their bond with the future.
For anyone beginning to consider Christmas gift donations to the Metchosin Foundation in the names of close relatives or friends, unique gift cards will be available. These will feature visually striking photos by Beverley Hall of our region’s natural beauty and will state that: “I have made a donation to the Metchosin Foundation on your behalf of $___.”