The Habitat Acquisition Trust has secured a biodiverse 23-hectare parcel of land in Highlands through a donation from Anne and Jim Ganns, who owned the property for 50 years. (Photo by Todd Carnahan/Courtesy Habitat Acquisition Trust)

The Habitat Acquisition Trust has secured a biodiverse 23-hectare parcel of land in Highlands through a donation from Anne and Jim Ganns, who owned the property for 50 years. (Photo by Todd Carnahan/Courtesy Habitat Acquisition Trust)

23-hectare land donation in Highlands extends permanent habitat protection

Anne and Jim Ganns pass on property purchased 50 years ago to the Habitat Acquisition Trust

A family’s long-term plan to conserve sensitive forest lands in Highlands came to fruition recently, with donation to the Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT).

Anne and Jim Ginns acquired the 23-hectare property adjacent to Thetis Lake Regional Park 50 years ago, with a goal to see it permanently protected. HAT paid a fraction of the market value of the land and issued the couple a tax receipt for the difference, a common tool used for land trusts.

“It would have been difficult for us to save the Highlands forest in perpetuity without mentoring from the capable staff at HAT,” the Ginns said in a joint statement. “We trust our gift will inspire other people to cherish and protect nature.”

The property, located within the coastal Douglas fir moist maritime biogeoclimatic zone, according to HAT, is home to a rich and varied ecosystem. It includes dense areas of maturing second-growth Douglas firs – the area was logged in the 1950s – as well as open pockets of Garry oak and arbutus trees, and wetlands, making it an ideal habitat for a variety of rare and representative birds, mammals, amphibians and plants.

ALSO READ: Saanich mayor, Habitat Acquisition Trust call on residents to help raise $1M for new regional park by Earth Day

Wildlife there includes such species at risk as the coastal western screech owl and olive-sided flycatcher, both of which are listed as threatened, and the endangered sharp-tailed snake. Securing a property of this kind for conservation allows it to be protected from human threats such as development and subdivision, HAT stated.

“We are very grateful for the generous contribution of the Ginns,” said HAT executive director Katie Blake.

The exact location of the parcel is not being announced until HAT is able to limit impacts to the ecosystem that may result from increased public access.

ALSO READ: Greater Victoria program hosts free habitat mapping workshop


 

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