Green Teams Canada logo of colourful tree and name of organization

James Anderson Park, Langley – November 24, 2022

On Thursday November 24, 2022 the Lower Mainland Green Team and Township of Langley joined forces to engage local youth in removing invasive Himalayan blackberry and English ivy from James Anderson Park in Langley.

Before and After Photos

Highlights

  • 48 grade 5 students from Richard Bulpitt Elementary School participated and contributed 72 hours total
    • Thank you so much to the 25 students in Ms. Kondo‘s grade 5 class: Felipe, Caleigh, Beckham, Jayden, Minwoo, Reina, Myles, Paige, Natalia, Minha, Allegra, Kenny, Savanna, Jackson, Min Kyu, Iori, Haiden, Rei, Siya, Jerin, Kai, Aiden, Jack, Isabel and Jewell!
    • Thank you so much to the 23 students in Ms. Weisner‘s grade 5 class: Rio, Saharsh, Max, Ben, Terra, Gabby, Joshua, Siwon, Hiba, Amy, Ellen, Kayla, Reina, Sean, Elina, Jenna, Everett, Ana, Enzo, Connor, Kendall, Soohyun and Eduwardo!
  • 3.5 cubic metres of invasive Himalayan blackberry and English Ivy was removed (equivalent to the volume of 22 bathtubs!), with a majority being stubborn blackberry roots which require more effort to remove, but take up less volume
  • 38 students visited James Anderson Park for the first time
  • 39 students removed invasive plants for the first time
  • The Township of Langley made this activity possible thanks to their financial support and direction!

Students In Action!

48 grade 5 students from Richard Bulpitt Elementary School arrived at James Anderson Park on a warm and sunny November day eager to learn outside of the classroom in a hands-on way. Suited up with the knowledge and tools to make a difference, the students quickly got to work and put what they learned into practice, shared tips and tricks with each other to effectively remove roots of all sizes, and ultimately used teamwork to make a tangible environmental impact at this local park.

Building on the work of two other grade 5 classes from their school who removed invasive plants at the park earlier in the week (CLICK HERE to read about and see photos from this activity on November 21, 2022!), our efforts focused on removing any remaining roots from the previously cleared patch in addition to tackling areas with untouched blackberry thickets. We were so impressed with the hard work and enthusiasm of these youth, especially as root after root came out of the ground!

One of the massive blackberry roots removed at this activity!

While Himalayan blackberry produces delicious berries that humans, birds and animals all enjoy, this aggressive invasive plant tends to take over natural areas making it hard for other plants and trees to grow. This includes native plants which produce berries during different times of the year and are an important source of food for wildlife! By focusing on removing roots so the plant doesn’t regrow, these youth are helping to increase biodiversity and ecosystem resilience, which will make this habitat healthier and better able to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Three mature trees in the park had clearly been battling with English ivy for a number of years, as shown by the massive vines (some as big as a small tree!) that were glued to the trunks. If left growing for too long, ivy can kill mature trees like these within as little as 10 years by adding extra weight and competing with the tree for resources. Imagine carrying someone on your back all the time and having to share everything you eat and drink with them. Not only would you be tired, but you’d be hungry and thirsty as well! That’s what it’s like for trees being overtaken by ivy.

In the tree pictured, the ivy would’ve been cut and removed from the base of the tree to take away the ivy’s ability to acquire water and nutrients. Once this has been done, the ivy growing above will begin to die and eventually fall off the tree. It’s important that we take care of our mature trees such as these which currently sequester carbon, regulate temperatures, reduce flooding and erosion, provide fresh air and more! Trees take care of us, so if you see ivy on a tree – remove it!

Through this experience we are helping local youth experience the benefits of being in nature while also making a tangible environmental impact. Spending time in nature has been found to reduce levels of stress and anxiety, improve mood, memory, sleep and focus and also encourages getting physical exercise outside! The next time you need a break, head out for a walk to your local green space/park/trail to feel refreshed. Additionally, by providing experiences for these youth to be in nature and try something new, we are helping them cultivate a curiosity and deeper respect for nature, which encourages responsible environmental behaviour that extends beyond our activities!

What Students Said

“I enjoyed learning a bunch of things and what needs to be done in new areas like that with so many roots.”

“I liked learning how to dig for roots and how to get the blackberries.”

“I liked to peel the ivy off the tree.”

“It was hard to take some roots out, but it was fun.”

“I liked working together with some people and the experience of digging up roots and just working together was very fun.”

“We learned about Himalayan blackberries and that they taste good and they are invasive to some species.”

“Learning about how plants work and how they can be a help and a nuisance to nature.”

“I really enjoyed the experience and hope I get to do it again!”

Thank You!

Thank you to Tovery Diener and Andrew Hong at the Township of Langley for partnering with our charity, Green Teams of Canada, to make this activity possible. By combining our expertise, we are better positioned to achieve our collective goals and empower communities to take care of each other and the environment!

Many thanks to Olivia at the Township of Langley for joining us at this activity to help move the piles of removed blackberry brambles, ivy vines and roots of all sizes, and to supervise and support the youth!

After Pile

Our Staff

This activity was led by the Lower Mainland Green Team‘s Program Manager, Ashton Kerr (left), and Program Coordinator, Megan Walker (right).

Megan has been hired as part of Green Teams of Canada‘s Youth Leadership Program and is gaining hands-on experience organizing and leading communities, and is also helping strengthen and build our organization!

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