ES 441/ER 411 began life almost ten years ago as a compact 5-day UVic-based ecological restoration course that dug into advanced principles and concepts. I gave it the same title as I did my 2003 book: Nature By Design. I realized early on that people learn best about restoration when they tackle real world problems, and that advanced concepts become clear in an exchange with practice and principles.
The earlier glimmerings of this course, was Spring 2002 (ES 400A) in the first few months after arriving at UVic. Students and I looked at how infrastructure could be incorporated ecologically to a highly degraded sites. We chose UVic's Parking Lot D for our design work. The course was prophetic but not causal: the Turpin Building, home to the School of Environmental Studies and an impressive ecologically-minded building, sits atop that Parking Lot. Subsequent iterations looked at restoration projects with the Songhees First Nation (ES 400A/ER 338; Fall 2003), the Garry oak meadow complex at the corner of Cedar Hill Cross and Finnerty roads (ER 482/ER 338; Fall 2005), the ravine between family house and the UVic childcare facilities (ER 482/ER 338; Fall 2007), Sidney Spit with Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (ER 482/ER 411; Summer 2009), and the Alumni Garry Oak Meadow (ES 441/ER 411; Spring 2012).
Along came a remarkable opportunity to teach the first university course on the site of the Galianio Learning Centre. The long history of the Galiano Conservancy Association's remarkable achievements in ecological restoration were reason enough to attract me, but the 78 ha. oceanfront property with intact coastal bluff ecosystems, an agricultural heartland, and a wide variety of restoration challenges clinched it. In February 2013, 15 intrepid students, TA Jenna Falk and I set course for Galiano Island. We repeated the course in Summer 2014, and the pattern is now formed. I look forward to extending this partnership with the Conservancy and offering experiences for students to learn about community-based restoration, regeneration and resilience.