Society features

Savary Island Land Trust Society receives land donation

The lot is part of a sensitive ecosystem and mature forest of native species, including tall fir, red alder, western redcedar, western hemlock and Douglas fir

The Savary Island Land Trust Society (SILTS) Board of Directors has received a donation of woodland from Dr. Maija Bismanis of Sooke, BC.

According to a SILTS bulletin, the land is located on Tennyson Road in the Meadow district, an area protected by the Savary Island Beach Land Convention. The land is part of a sensitive ecosystem and mature forest of native species including tall fir, red alder, western redcedar, western hemlock and Douglas fir, with salal ferns, sword and deer.

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

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

“We just finished celebrating our 25th anniversary and this donation was made just as we were in the middle of our celebrations,” Webster said.

She said much of the land for SILTS came from donations, but the company also bought a few different properties, after raising funds in the community to buy other ecologically important features, such as wetlands and old forests.

Webster said Savary Island was subdivided in 1910 into over 1,000 parcels, so it is the most subdivided land in the qathet regional district.

“It’s extremely rare and ecologically fragile, so any land that can be protected as green space is actually critical to the sustainability of the island,” Webster said. “When we started 25 years ago, we never imagined that we would achieve what we have. Our main objective was to protect the heart of Savary with 350 hectares in the center 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 this in 2018. It is owned by the nature trust, which is a much larger conservation land trust that has lands all in British Columbia, but we are the local organization that took the protection of this land as the catalyst to start our organization. We became a charity and people also started giving us land.

Webster said SILTS has also undertaken fundraising to acquire other specific parts with significant ecological characteristics.

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

The SILTS newsletter said Bismanis, a specialist in medieval architecture, bought the Savary property in the 1990s. Her family occasionally camped on the grounds and she knew it was wooded, but she never went to Savary Island, according to the bulletin. In addition to the land donation, Bismanis will donate funds to manage the land.

“We are very grateful to Dr. Bismanis for this birthday gift,” said SILTS President Maddie Beange. “The protection of Savary’s forests becomes all the more important as the number of lots cleared for development increases each year. Dr. Bismanis’ gift of land is an inspiration and a wonderful addition to our conservation work on Savary over the past 25 years.

Since the inception of SILTS, the land trust has received and acquired 21 parcels of land and manages over 18 acres on Savary Island. The statement says thanks go to Bismanis and all those who donated land and funds to acquire land for conservation purposes on Savary Island.

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