This 2.4 acre property in Esquimalt contains Victoria harbour's last patch of rare and endangered Garry oak ecosystems. The property has more than a hundred oak trees - some of them were already centuries old when Sir Douglas decided to put Fort Victoria here!
In spring, the meadows and rocky outcrops of the Matson Conservation Area are a blaze of colour as camas, seablush, and other native wildflowers bloom. A forested ravine contains Douglas-fir, trailing blackberries, and fawn lilies. Species at Risk found onsite include Hooker's onion, Great Blue Heron, and Purple Martin.
Mandalay Developments Ltd. donated the Matson Conservation Area to Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT). This donation came about through the tireless efforts of the Friends of Matson Lands, and a partnership among HAT, Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Township of Esquimalt.
HAT's conservation strategy for the property is informed by a management plan. Active management includes invasive species control, native plantings, and community education. Local volunteers are removing English Ivy and Daphne that has been choking out native plants such as onion grass, camas, and chocolate lily. HAT welcomes your assistance!
The Matson Conservation Area community project is a great way for neighbours to learn practical eco-restoration work. This is a wonderful demonstration site for urban ecosystem conservation because of its accessibility. Many residents in the neighbourhood have become Matson's Habitat Stewards. Planting native shrubs on their land and watching over the conservation area, people are taking ownership of this hidden gem of a nature reserve.
Demonstration Garden and Matson Conservation Area restoration work are funded by Mandalay Development (Victoria) Ltd.
Shot in 2005, the video below looks at the endangered Garry Oak Ecosystem on the Matson Lands and how it is an example of a developer and Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) working together.