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Vancouver birds getting hand from local youth, conservation fund

Native plants, youth from diverse backgrounds and birds all come together.

A youth program connecting young people with native plants is helping dozens of local community organizations and Vancouver's bird population.

The Environmental Youth Alliance's (EYA) Native Plant Landscaping project based in the Strathcona Community Garden links youth with a hands-on gardening experience, growing thousands of bird-friendly plants that'll be sent all over the city, expanding the habitat for feathered neighbours.

"The youth-grown plants will be distributed to over 50 local community organizations and schools to support urban bird habitat projects," states the EYA in a press release.

Youth participating in the gardening programs at the landscaping project come from diverse backgrounds, including youth who self-identify as LGBTQ2, new immigrants, or youth who are going through the foster care system.

“EYA's programs create opportunities for BIPOC and other youth facing barriers to connect with nature in their own neighbourhood while building skills in urban habitat conservation," says communications manager David Palmer in a press release. "Our youth-led conservation work helps to improve access to green spaces in Vancouver's eastside communities, while creating habitat for wildlife and insect species that play an important role in our ecosystems."

Diversity in the ecosystem is another component of the program, with the focus on native plants in the city's urban areas.

"The garden showcases perennial native plants native to coastal British Columbia organized in four guilds: shade, edgelands, food forest, and pollinator," states the EYA website.

The Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) announced today its continued support of the program with $21,501 in funding; it's the third year the HCTF has provided funds for the native plant landscape project. Some of the funds are going to expanding the garden.

“HCTF combines wildlife biology expertise with their excellent management of funds to deliver outstanding benefits for wildlife. With all the pressures on the land base, the good work HCTF does is more important than ever," says Steve Kozuki, executive director of the Forest Enhancement Society of BC, which helps fund the HCTF.

Other projects receiving funding this year include work re-establishing a fish passage after a rock slide in Seymour River, research into White Sturgeon habitat in Pitt River, and habitat enhancement in the Fraser River Estuary.