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Savary Island property donated to land trust society

Lot is part of a sensitive ecosystem and mature forest of native species including grand fir, red alder, western red cedar, western hemlock and Douglas fir
PROTECTED AREA: Savary Island Land Trust Society has procured another parcel of land, which was donated, to add to the 20 other parcels of land, totalling 18 acres, administered by the society.

Savary Island Land Trust Society (SILTS) board of directors has received a gift of forested land from Dr. Maija Bismanis, of Sooke, BC.

According to a SILTS newsletter, the land is located on Tennyson Road in the Meadow neighbourhood, an area protected by the Savary Island beach lands covenant. The lot is part of a sensitive ecosystem and a mature forest of native species including grand fir, red alder, western red cedar, western hemlock and Douglas fir, with salal, sword and deer ferns.

In an interview with the Peak, Liz Webster, executive director of SILTS, said the donated property is a lot that is 0.298 acres in size. She said the property is conservation land so the primary use is preserving it for nature. There are no trails on this particular property and it is not intended as recreational.

Webster said SILTS is a charitable organization, dedicated to the conservation of natural areas and biological diversity on Savary.

“We just finished celebrating our 25th birthday, and this donation was being given just as we were in the midst of our celebrations,” said Webster.

She said a lot of the SILTS land has come through donation, but the society has also purchased a few different properties, having raised money in the community to buy other ecologically significant pieces, such as wetlands and old forests.

Webster said Savary Island was subdivided in 1910 into more than 1,000 parcels, so it’s the most highly subdivided land in qathet Regional District.

“It’s extremely rare and fragile ecologically, so any land that can be protected as greenspace is actually critical to the sustainability of the island,” said Webster. “When we started 25 years ago, we never imagined we would achieve what we have. Our main goal was to protect the heart of Savary with 350 acres in the centre of the island.

“After a 22-year effort, and working with the Nature Trust of BC and the Friends of Savary, we were able to protect that in 2018. It’s owned by the nature trust, which is a much larger conservation land trust that has land all over BC, but we’re the local organization that took protecting that land as a catalyst for starting our organization. We became a charity and people started donating land to us as well.”

Webster said SILTS has also undertaken fundraising to acquire specific other parts that have significant ecological features.

“It’s not simply about enjoying a recreational thing, it’s about survival, because we rely on the conservation of the island every single day,” said Webster. “That’s where our water comes from. All of these things are connected. The really important part of land conservation is about sustainability and survival.”

The SILTS newsletter stated that Bismanis, a scholar of medieval architecture, purchased the Savary property in the 1990s. Her family camped on the lot occasionally and she knew it was forested, but she has never been to Savary Island, according to the newsletter. In addition to the gift of land, Bismanis will donate funds to steward the land.

“We are so grateful to Dr. Bismanis for this birthday gift,” stated SILTS chair Maddie Beange. “Protecting forests on Savary becomes more important as the number of lots cleared for development increases each year. The gift of land from Dr. Bismanis is an inspiration and a wonderful addition to our conservation work on Savary over the last 25 years.”

Since SILTS began, the land trust has received and acquired 21 parcels of land and stewards more than 18 acres on Savary Island. The release stated that thanks go to Bismanis and all who have donated land and funds to acquire land for conservation on Savary Island.

The land will be transferred to SILTS this month, according to the release. Villani and Company is acting pro bono for the transfer.