Thursday, November 15, 2012

Winter Lecture Series - Using plants for the ecological restoration of contaminated sites


Presented by: Vancouver Island University, Powell River Campus

Speaker: Dr. Valentin Schaefer, Ph.D., R.P.Bio.

Using plants for the ecological restoration of contaminated sites

Adjacent to our beautiful Powell River Willingdon Beach Park, there is a parcel of land (approximately 10 hectares) previously used as a municipal incinerator site. This land was given to our community for park purposes by the province in 1966; but in 1972 a garbage incinerator was built on the site. This incinerator (pit burner) handled household garbage and commercial waste from the region and, for several years, it also accepted large quantities of paper from the local mill. It operated until the early 90s when the Ministry of Environment ordered it to be shut down due to failure to meet its permit requirements.

Because this site is known to be contaminated with heavy metals, the local Municipality and/or Regional District is obliged to submit a clean-up and remediation plan to the B.C. Ministry of Environment by the end of 2013. A detailed assessment to identify all sources and types of contamination will be part of that plan.

Powell River Botanic Garden Society has recently been formed, and the Society's objective is to have this parcel of land identified as a botanic garden as its future intended use. Most importantly, they see the development of the garden as an opportunity to research how plants may be used to remove contaminants, potentially at considerably less cost than other remediation methods (e.g., transporting the contaminated soils to a secure landfill) while at the same time creating an attractive public space. If successful, Powell River Botanic Garden Society believes this approach would gain the attention of many other public and private interests faced with having to clean up contaminated properties.

Dr. Valentin Schaefer, Ph.D., R.P.Bio., is a biologist and ecologist by training who has developed unique expertise in the emerging field of Urban Ecology. Dr. Schaefer has been the Faculty Coordinator of the Restoration of Natural Systems Program that is offered jointly by the School of Environmental Studies and the Division of Continuing Studies at the University of Victoria, BC, since 2005. He and his graduate students undertake research projects in ecological restoration, the most recent of which is Restoring Urban Nature (RUN). They also provide policy support to the BC Ministry of the Environment and the District of Saanich. Dr. Schaefer is a leading proponent of urban ecology and urban biodiversity who has written extensively and presented internationally on these topics.

The Vancouver Island University together with the Powell River Botanic Society invite all interested parties to attend what promises to be a highly informative and important lecture.

  • Date: Mon Nov 19, 2012
  • Time: 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
  • Campus/site: Powell River
  • Building or Location: Main Campus, 100 - 7085 Nootka Street
  • Room: 134
  • Cost: $5.00
  • Contact:    Xochitl Hernandez   604-485-2878 
  • Contact:    Diana Wood   604-2860 (no calls after 9:00 pm)

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