Mount Tzuhalem Purpose Statement
Ecological Reserves are areas selected to preserve representative and special natural ecosystems, plant and animal species, features and phenomena. The key goal of ecological reserves is to contribute to the maintenance of biological diversity and the protection of genetic materials. All consumptive resource uses and the use of motorized vehicles are prohibited. Research and educational activities may be carried out but only under permit.
The primary role of Mount Tzuhalem Ecological Reserve is to preserve one of the best
examples of Garry oak woodland and spring wildflower meadows in Canada. This 18-hectare ecological reserve is located on the south facing slopes of Mount Tzuhalem, and it encompasses groves of Garry oak separated by wildflower meadows and mossy outcrops, together with scattered and gnarled Douglas-fir and arbutus trees, giving the site a parkland appearance. The ecological reserve protects habitat for seven plant communities and many individual plants,invertebrates and birds identified as endangered, threatened or vulnerable. At least 150 species of vascular plants have been recorded at this site and over 30 species of birds have been observed in the area, several of which use the ecological reserve to forage, roost and raise their young. These include California quail, northern flicker, pileated woodpecker, western bluebird, hermit thrush, and warblers.
The Garry oak ecosystem is an extremely under-represented and endangered ecosystem in the Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF) biogeoclimatic zone. In Canada this ecosystem occurs only on the southeastern coast of Vancouver Island south of Comox, the Gulf Islands, and in a few scattered stands on the Lower Mainland. This area is under intense pressure from urban and agricultural development, resulting in less than 5% of the original habitat remaining in a near- natural condition. The preservation and management of this site is important for the GarryOak Ecosystem Recovery Strategy.
See the complete PDF file: mttzuhal_ps
Known Management Issue
Health of Garry oaks trees
Response: Work with Ministry of Forests, Pacific Forestry Center, Garry Oak Meadow Preservation Society and others to determine the health of the Garry Oaks and monitor for insects harmful to Garry oaks.
Impacts of invasive plants on ecological reserve values
- Continue invasive species removal with help of volunteers such as Cowichan Valley Naturalists. Continue to document dates, areas, amounts removed.
- Continue working with adjacent land owners to encourage naturescaping.
- Initiate a comprehensive inventory of the ecological reserve’s plants and animals including the identification and mapping of plant.
- Impacts of increased visitation and recreation uses (hiking, camping, mountain biking) on ecological values:
- Work with volunteer warden to collect data about visitor numbers and their effects on vegetation using a trail counter and photo monitoring.
- Work with Cowichan Valley Regional District and mountain biking community to determine alternative sites where mountain biking can be accommodated.
- Monitor the changing conditions as result of 2001 access modifications.
- Work with local community to reduce the profile of area as destination and develop alternative destinations. In the interim, ensure marketing material properly reflects appropriate uses of the ecological reserve and its special features.
Impact of adjacent land use – extensive residential development
- Continue educating and working with adjacent land owners to develop a sense of stewardship and respect for the ecological reserve.
Risk of fire and potential impacts on ecological reserve and adjacent community.
- Provide public education and signage regarding risks of accidental fire and work with the volunteer warden to undertake patrols.
- Ensure the ecological reserve is “fire-ready” by securing access to fire control equipment and developing an ecological friendly fire suppression policy, and maintaining a good relationship with local government.
- Investigate use of prescribed fire to maintain the Garry oak ecosystem.
Lack of knowledge of cultural values and traditional use
- Consult with First Nations to determine cultural values and traditional use associated with this ecological reserve