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Environment Week Invasive Plant Removal at the Cariboo Heights Forest, Burnaby – June 10, 2023

Group photo of the awesome community members who joined us for this activity!

Highlights From The Day

  • 35 wonderful members of the community joined us and contributed 106 hours total!
    • Thank you so much for your hard work and enthusiasm: Aaron, Alexander, Alexis, Angel, April, Art, Carol, Cheryl, Chris, Cynthia, Gary, Giacomo, Hanyu (James), Heikal, Holden, Jennifer, Jamie, Jan, Jiayi (Christina), Julia, Lorraine, Matthew, Mercedes, Mylo, Nicholas, Romil, Ryan, Sandy, Sesame, Shuang, Suzie, Tarrah, Tony, YongLin (Lynne) and Yuki!

  • Together our team:
    • Removed a volume of 8 cubic metres (50 bathtubs full) of invasive Himalayan blackberry (including lots of stubborn roots!) and Small balsam
      • By removing these invasive plants we are creating space for more native plants, which will increase biodiversity and help make the area more resilient, functional and beautiful!
    • Removed invasive plants from an area of 620 metres squared
  • It was an empowering and impactful day! New friends were made, enthusiasm was strong and everyone accomplished a lot by working together as a community. Scroll down to see before and after photos from the blackberry that was removed, as well as some in-action shots!

  • We worked alongside the amazing Cariboo Heights Forest Preservation Society, a local group that who cares for and advocates for the preservation of this beautiful forest for the benefit of all living things.
    • Thank you to Co-Presidents Utta and Aruna for sharing their passion and knowledge with everyone, and for leading volunteers in the Small balsam removal deeper in the forest!
    • Become a member and follow the Cariboo Heights Forest Preservation Society on Instagram and Facebook to get more involved!

  • We built on the awesome work of Matthew Syvenky and Rubus Restoration at this activity.
    • The work of Matthew and his team has helped to reduce invasive blackberry and support native plants in the area. We were grateful to have him join us and share his local expertise!
    • Follow Rubus Restoration on Instagram to get more involved!

  • All ages, backgrounds, and experience levels were engaged including families, returning Green Team volunteers, and first-timers!
    • 27 people visited the Cariboo Heights Forest for the first time
    • 8 people removed invasive plants for the first time
    • Heikal biked to this activity from Port Moody and Sesame used his bike and transit to join us from Richmond!
    • Members from the Vancouver International Volunteer Association joined us for this day, thank you YongLin (Lynne) for introducing your community to ours!
    • Local resident Victor stopped by and shared how much he was impressed by and appreciated our work. Thank you Victor!
    • Our Green Team brought together people from all over the Lower Mainland including Burnaby, New Westminster, Vancouver, Richmond, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Langley and Surrey!

  • Thank you to the following businesses for donating items to thank our amazing volunteers:
    • LUSH for providing Sleepy Lotion and Dirty/Sparkle Toothpaste Tablets
    • Tru Earth for providing Laundry Detergent Strips

Before & After Photos

Additional after photo of native Sword ferns that were being overtaken by invasive blackberry:

Small balsam was removed from along trails in the forest and was less dense and more spread out, thanks to it being removed in years previous by the Cariboo Heights Forest Preservation Society! As a result it was difficult to capture effective before and after photos, but know that the work completed was important to care for this forest habitat!

Photos of the bins full of invasive plants removed from this activity:

Invasive Plants Removed

Although Himalayan blackberry produces delicious berries humans and wildlife both enjoy, it’s an aggressive invasive plant that overtakes anything in its path. This limits biodiversity, habitat and food sources for wildlife in seasons when the plant is not fruiting.

Small balsam, also known as Smallflower touch-me-not, has many different names. It is an annual plant (grows, seeds and dies off within the year) that densely covers the forest floor in late spring and summer and prevents native plants from establishing. When the seeds are ready, they burst from the plant when it is touched or moved, making it very easy for this plant to spread!

By removing these invasive plants we are creating space for more native plants, which will increase biodiversity and help make the area more resilient, functional and beautiful!

Partner For This Activity

A huge THANK YOU to the City of Burnaby for partnering with our charity, Green Teams of Canada, and providing the financial support and direction to make this activity possible!

This activity was part of Burnaby Environment Week, a week of environmentally-themed family friendly community activities held to coincide with Canadian Environment Week to celebrate nature and encourage people to take care of the environment in their everyday lives. Thank you City of Burnaby for involving us in this exciting celebration!

Collaborator For This Activity

THANK YOU so much to members of the Cariboo Heights Forest Preservation Society for sharing their passion, local knowledge, expertise and time to work alongside us for this amazing day!

This local group cares for and advocates for the preservation of this beautiful forest for the benefit of all living things, and they do an excellent job!

Many thanks to Co-Presidents Utta and Aruna for your time and work before this activity, for leading volunteers in the Small balsam removal deeper in the forest, and for ending our activity on an inspirational note. Not to mention all the wonderful knowledge and passion you shared with us all throughout the day!

Utta and Aruna reminded us that there are things we can all do beyond this activity to continue to support beautiful natural areas such as this one:

  • Ask your local nursery to stop selling invasive plants and to carry more native plants
  • Plant native plants in your garden or on your balcony – you will also support local pollinators!
  • Tell your elected officials, wherever you live, that preserving natural areas such as this one are important to you
  • Introduce your friends, family, coworkers, classmates and neighbours to this and other natural spaces and educate them about the invasive plants we removed 
  • Join us, the Cariboo Heights Forest Preservation Society, or another local stewardship group again!

No action is too small to make a difference, especially when many people are doing them!

Photo of the sign in the area that Matthew and Rubus Restoration restored. We were so glad we were able to build on this amazing work at this activity!

Matthew sharing his knowledge about a parasitic wasp that attacks some of the plants in the area!

What Volunteers Said

“I loved meeting people, spending time outside, and doing my part to steward the natural spaces around us! This program encourages youth and under-engaged demographics to get involved in their communities and improve local biodiversity. Thank you for such a wonderful day!”

– Matthew

“I have always wanted to volunteer and now I get to come out and donate my time to help make the environment a little bit stronger for the animals and other plants that live around here. I get to take out my rage on some of these roots, and I get to learn a little bit about plants and meet some really cool people.”

– Mylo

In-Action Photos

Why Do We Do This Work?

The Lower Mainland Green Team organizes hands-on educational activities that have a positive environmental impact to empower people. Through activities such as invasive plant removals, plantings, litter cleanups and more, we are fostering connections with others and nature so that health and well-being is prioritized, lifelong environmental stewardship is promoted, and community members are enabled to take care of themselves, each other and the places they live. We all have the power to make a difference!

We all experience mental and physical health benefits from spending time in nature, including reduced stress and anxiety, and improved mood, focus, memory and more. While doing so, we can also have a positive impact on the environment as demonstrated through this activity!

Our Staff

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

Green Teams of Canada‘s Founder and Executive Director, Lyda Salatian, joined us for part of this activity as well. She also founded our Lower Mainland Green Team in 2011!


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