– Aldo Leopold
Stewardship is the act of assuming responsibility for something; ecological stewardship embodies the protection, conservation and restoration of our natural world.
Metchosin residents have shown stewardship of their municipality for many years as evidenced by the great swaths of forests, pristine shoreline, functioning waterways and agricultural lands that remain intact. Although sometimes worrisome, bears and cougars still roam our landscape, showing by their presence that we have done an admirable job in maintaining the balance between human and native species requirements.
With increasing human use of the wild areas though, it is beneficial to practice good stewardship, so that we can continue to support and enjoy the natural world around us, that makes Metchosin so distinctive from other communities.
Stewardship can be accomplished in many ways, from simple, inexpensive choices to legally binding and more costly options. Any resident can incorporate the following low cost and environmentally friendly practices.
When choosing plants for gardening, decisions can be made to supply benefits beyond the obvious ones of beauty and scent. Incorporate plants that provide nectar for hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators; chose plants that have reduced maintenance requirements: plants that are drought tolerant, have low fertilizer requirements, or that don’t need pesticides to survive the onslaught of insects; chose plants that are not introduced invasive species; choose to incorporate native plants that will provide food and habitat for many creatures as well as reducing watering and chemical inputs-hedgerows of mixed native shrubs are attractive and provide nesting sites and food for birds and small mammals.
Food crops can be grown organically, using appropriate mulches which conserve water and reduce weeding and pesticide use. By providing habitat, you can help our native birds and animals continue to thrive in Metchosin. Supply nest boxes for birds, rock piles for snakes and lizards, ponds for amphibians and mason bee condos for those industrious pollinators of our fruit trees.
You can further increase your stewardship by working with land trusts on their stewardship initiatives which include monitoring for rare species and signing non-binding agreements to protect certain aspects of your natural or agricultural landscape.
Sometimes, a legacy of lasting value is an important last contribution that we wish to provide to our local and global community. We are all thankful to the people who donated their property holdings to become the parks and trails we appreciate today and into the future. What would Metchosin be like without Witty’s Lagoon, Devonian and Matheson Lake Parks? The most important form of stewardship is legal protection of our natural ecosystems; Metchosin residents do this by contributing to the CRD Parks’ acquisition fund, through conservation covenants and by donation of land for parks.
A conservation covenant can offer ecological stewardship into the foreseeable future. These are legally binding three party agreements (two land trusts and the landowner) that protect certain areas of a property from development forever. However, the property as a whole can still be retained as a financial asset and sold or inherited if desired. In many instances, funding can be found to finance this process.
Not many of us can afford to donate our lands, we have obligations to our family and heirs that restrain us from such generosity. Some people don’t have these constraints and are willing to bequeath their property to become parks and natural area reserves long into the future, for the benefit of all residents and native plant and animal communities.
Removing invasive species is another tool that can restore the natural environment and allow native species to thrive. It is a rewarding experience that can be undertaken by almost anyone, but one that those interested should understand involves a long term commitment.
Stewardship is a choice we all have the opportunity to make, from the simple to the grand gesture, it all makes an important contribution.
— Moralea Milne