What We Do
The Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team (GOERT) was formed in 1999 to coordinate efforts to protect and restore endangered Garry oak and associated ecosystems and the species at risk that inhabit them.
GOERT’s Recovery Implementation Groups (RIGs) are working to complete the science-based information necessary for ecosystem and species recovery, minimize ongoing site and species losses, and motivate public and private protection and stewardship activities.
Eventually, we hope that plants and animals now at risk in Garry oak and associated ecosystems will be out of danger and their long-term survival ensured.
To that end, we are:
- Mapping and classifying plant communities
- Raising the protection level of priority sites through covenants, stewardship, and acquisition
- Restoring Garry oak habitat through invasive species removal and propagation of native plants
- Assessing the population of species at risk, writing status reports, recovery strategies and recovery action plans for them
- Guiding research to further our understanding of Garry oak and associated ecosystems
- Engaging others through outreach
Only a concerted, long-term effort to conserve what is left of Garry oak and associated ecosystems in Canada can halt the ever-increasing threat to their species at risk. The recovery program has so far been guided by GOERT’s Recovery Strategy for Garry Oak and Associated Ecosystems and their Associated Species at Risk in Canada, 2001–2006 (2002).
Under the GOERT strategy, the Recovery Team is responsible for species-level planning for at least 84 species at risk. Currently, there are approximately 20 species that have recovery strategies completed. These strategies call for action plans to be completed over the next several years, which will help ensure that recovery actions are well coordinated and carried out. There are more status reports and recovery strategies under development.
An ecosystem approach to recovery planning
Our recovery strategy uses a unique, ecosystem-based approach to protecting individual species at risk. Recovery planning in Canada has historically taken a species-by-species approach, but national initiatives now recognize the importance of incorporating a wider scope in some circumstances. The ecosystem-based approach makes sense in this case, as so many species at risk occur in the same geographical area in Garry oak and associated ecosystems.
Multi-species recovery strategies
In addition to our overall recovery strategy, we have produced three multi-species recovery strategies for species at risk in Garry oak woodlands, maritime meadows, and vernal pools. These are the first terrestrial multi-species strategies to be finalized and approved under the Species at Risk Act.
Long-term recovery goals
- Establish a network of Garry oak and associated ecosystem sites and landscape linkages
- Improve and secure the status of all species at risk in Garry oak and associated ecosystems, so that they are no longer at risk of extinction
- Develop the information base necessary for ecosystem and species recovery
- Protect and manage sites and species at risk to minimize immediate losses of ecosystems and species
- Motivate public and private protection and stewardship activities by supplying critical information to appropriate audiences
Six strategic approaches to meeting our goals
GOERT’s official Recovery Team coordinates the work of seven Recovery Implementation Groups (RIGs), several Steering Committees and the Staff to implement the Recovery Program. The following six approaches guide our work:
1. Inventory, mapping and plant community classification
Develop standardized plant community classification, and determine and map the historical and current extent of Garry oak and associated ecosystems.
2. Protection of ecosystems and essential ecosystem characteristics
Secure high priority sites towards the establishment of a network of protected areas that represent the full diversity of Garry oak and associated ecosystems throughout their geographic range in Canada that are of sufficient size and appropriately situated to sustain essential ecosystem characteristics over the long term.
3. Restoration and management of protected areas, landscape linkages, buffers, and the general landscape
Facilitate the establishment of landscape linkages and buffers and promote the restoration and management of protected areas, landscape linkages, buffers, and the general landscape to sustain essential ecosystem characteristics over the long term.
4. Protection and recovery of species at risk
Complete assessments and initial planning and initiate actions towards sustaining and expanding populations of species at risk in Garry oak and associated ecosystems that are designated Endangered, Threatened, or are of management concern.
Expand basic and applied research relevant to conserving and restoring Garry oak and associated ecosystems.
- Ensure that conservation of Garry oak and associated ecosystems is incorporated into the planning and programs of governmental and non-governmental agencies
- Develop public awareness of, support for, and participation in recovery activities
- Establish extension and public education programs to facilitate and inspire agency and public involvement
- Facilitate communication, coordination, and information-sharing among recovery partners to ensure efficient, coordinated delivery of the recovery program