View Royal elementary students Atreus Carvell (left) and Reilly Thorne remove invasive plants during an outdoor education program. The initiative

View Royal elementary students Atreus Carvell (left) and Reilly Thorne remove invasive plants during an outdoor education program. The initiative

View Royal students take classroom outdoors with Green Team project

Students at View Royal elementary got a chance to get out of the classroom and get their hands a little dirty recently.

Students at View Royal elementary got a chance to get out of the classroom and get their hands a little dirty recently.

The students planted Douglas firs and removed invasive English ivy and Himalayan blackberry in an initiative organized by the Greater Victoria Green Team.

The work came after consultation with Town of View Royal officials, who directed the Green Team’s efforts to the conveniently located View Royal Park, a seed’s throw away from the elementary school.

“We talked about planting some native plants, especially along Craigflower Creek, which is the last leg of the Craigflower watershed before the water enters into Portage Inlet. So it’s really important to restore some of the riparian area,” said Amanda Evans, Green Team program manager.

Some of the invasive species in the Victoria region are unique across Canada given the area’s favourable climate.

These species can be harmful to trees and can grow quickly, often blanketing the ground and choking out native plants.

While it’s impossible to eradicate them from the region, any bit of removal can have a positive impact on the local ecosystem.

“Sometimes, depending on the invasive plant, it can change the soil chemistry, making it very difficult for a plant to grow there again,” Evans noted.

Each class at View Royal elementary spent one or two hours in the park with these goals in mind.

Getting kids involved in the effort has a range of benefits, Evans explained.

“With the (Green Team) our whole premise is connecting community, especially youth, with outdoors and nature. Especially at a time when we spend so much time indoors in front of screens. It’s a way for kids to learn in a experiential, hands-on fashion.”

It’s also a good way to ensure that the newly planted flora receives the attention it needs to thrive.

“One cool thing with this project is that the kids will be taking responsibility in watering the newly planted trees next summer,” Evans said.

She credited the school’s staff for making possible what she called the largest initiative in which the Greater Victoria Green Team has ever participated.

joel.tansey@goldstreamgazette.com