What’s that Buzz?
Mapping Pollinators in our neighbourhoods
by contributor Sher Morgan
There was a friendly buzz of anticipation on a sunny Saturday morning earlier this month as neighbours gathered at Cedar Hill Rec Centre for QCHCA’s first-ever Pollinator Mapping workshop.
UVic Community Mapping students (Geography 380) and QCHCA’s climate action group are partnering in a citizen science initiative to map pollinator habitat in QCHCA neighbourhoods. The Plan step 1 – to map existing pollinator habitat. The Plan step 2 – to engage residents in creating pollinator habitat for at-risk bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and insects in our region as the habitat they need to survive is encroached upon, and lost – largely to development.
What’s Community Mapping? Sometimes called asset mapping it involves residents in identifying the assets of their neighbourhood, looking for opportunities, and creating a picture of what it is like to live here. Community mapping encourages people to become advocates for transforming or protecting the spaces in which we live.
According to Maleea Acker who teaches UVic’s Geography 380 Community Mapping “the class is engaged in a number of community partnerships using New Open Green Maps, a perfect platform to co-create interactive and community-engaged projects that are carried on by community partners …(like QCHCA). The Community Mapping class focuses on community-engaged learning, meaning students work with one of several partners each semester, matching their mapping skills and theory with the community’s expertise on place. Projects usually stretch over several cohorts of students, allowing a community group to engage with a variety of learners and allowing students to bring various perspectives to the project.” – 2021 https://www.greenmap.org/blog/community-mapping-update-victoria-bc
At the November 12th workshop led by UVic Community mapping student Matt Evans, participants learned a lot about pollinators: why we need them, what they need, and the benefits of creating and protecting places for pollinators to thrive. (see QCHCA News: Why Pollinators?) Workshop participants were then invited to start mapping.Participants found their street on the large format maps spread out on tables, and described the plantings and green spaces in their own yards, identifying specific native and pollinator-friendly plants with the help of workshop leaders.
By early December our UVic student partners Matt and Steve Martin will transfer that information onto an interactive, digital map showing the pollinator-friendly habitats that workshop participants identified– parks, gardens, boulevards, natural areas, Garry Oak meadows. The resulting map will reveal where the gaps exist – areas that need pollinator-supportive plantings to create pollinator corridors, for bees, birds and insects to feast upon, rest, lay their eggs, dwell in, and thrive.
Just imagine pollinator planted corridors stretching from Cedar Hill Park to Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary. Imagine how that might alter our neighbourhood landscape? Your morning walk? Might there be more birdsong? More butterflies?
That digital map will be accessible – to residents, neighbouring mapping groups, the District of Saanich, etc. And, the map will be open source and interactive so people can keep adding pollinator-rich sites – in spring as the camas, fawn lily and nodding onion appear, and throughout the seasons – using their iphones!
How effective can this QCHCA initiative be? It will only get richer as more people participate. Matt Evans says Quadra Cedar Hil Community Association is following in the footsteps (or, flight path?) of a model that any community group would do well to emulate. Gorge Tillicum Community Assoc’s Natural Areas Working Group is one year in on creating its own pollinator corridor in partnership with UVic’s Maleea Acker, Ken Josephson and their Geo 380 students. One of the leads on the GTCA pollinator group Laurie Jones attended QCHCA’s workshop bringing photos of her group’s recent native pollinator planting at Wascana Street and Burnside Road.
Burnside-Wascana boulevard garden includes 20 different plants indigenous to southern Vancouver Island that will help support the area’s native pollinators. Starting in March/April and going through to October/November, there will be a succession of colourful blossoms and pollinators here – Laurie Jones.
What’s next for the QCHCA pollinator plan? Community Association president, Susan Haddon says “We’ll let everyone know when the digital map is available so people can add their gardens and natural areas to the map. It will be important to keep adding data to gain an over-arching visual sense of what already exists. In the new year we could have guided walks for neighbours to stroll their streets and nearby parks with iphones in hand to identify and actually plot the native and non-native flowers, trees, shrubs and grasses that benefit pollinators. I know many QCH residents have a wealth of knowledge to share. And sharing that knowledge may even influence more residents to include native plants in their gardens. It will be wonderful to get out walking and learning together…knowing we are creating new pollinator habitat and contributing to the balance of healthy ecosystems in increasingly healthy neighbourhoods.
If you are keen to participate in the QCHCA Climate Action group’s
Pollinator Mapping and Corridor initiative email firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject line: Pollinators
Thanks to community conservation luminaries attending QCHCA Pollinator Mapping workshop (L to R) Gorge Tillicum pollinator project’s Laurie Jones, QCHCA president Susan Haddon, SeaChange Marine Conservation Society’s Nikki Wright, RUSH biomimicry expert Ann-Marie Daniels, UVic’s Ken Josephson, UVic student mapping workshop leader Matt Evans, UVic’s Maleea Acker.
QCHCA president Susan Haddon presents workshop participant Trudee Trotter with the day’s door prize – a native kinnikinnick shrub.