hand in water' The Veins of Life
Watershed Society

Email: volws@salishsea.ca

The Veins of Life Watershed society, in association with the Saanich Parks Department, undertook the eradication of Gorse from the Gorge Park.  The Veins of Life worked from August to October 2000, removing all Gorse from the park, most notably along the banks of the Gorge where the plant was most extensive.  Gorse is an extremely tough, spiked bush, rivalling blackberry bushes in its ability to injure would-be attackers. 


Gorse is an exotic, invasive species also known as Furze.  It is a thorny shrub growing up to eight feet tall and is found on heaths, in moors and pastures, and upon open woodlands, blooming with a bright yellow flower in spring through to early autumn.  Gorse is native to the Mediterranean and is a serious weed in Australia, New Zealand, and both the east and west coasts of North America.  It is and extremely strong competitor in well-drained areas where the soil has been disturbed.  Furthermore, due to the fact that it is not a species native to Vancouver Island, it easily out-competes local plants, reducing their habitat.

  • Loppers, Tarps
  • Pole Saws (pictured, left), hand saws
  • Large and Small Root Pullers
  • Protective Equipment - punture-proof gloves, coveralls, safety glasses, steel-toed boots, first-aid kit

 The Gorge Park Gorse eradication project involved a four-stage process.  Gorse was cut down by hand, collected, hauled out, and the roots were pulled. 

The shrubs were cut at the base of the plant leaving enough of the stem exposed to facilitate later root removal.  The gorse cutting were loaded onto tarps and collected at a central point.  Tarps were used in order to reduce the potential for seed dispersal.  Gorse seeds can lay dormant for up to thirty years; thus, it was essential to prevent the seeds from scattering. 

In areas upon the banks of the Gorge, root structures were not removed because doing so would decrease the stabilization of the banks.  Once all of the gorse cuttings had been collected, Saanich parks removed and disposed of the foul weed.

(From Left to Right) John and Kali remove Gorse using pole saws and root pullers, remove the biomass on a tarp to ensure the seeds do not spread, and finally dispose of the plant material on manicured grass to await pickup.
Results and Accomplishments

Phase II of the program involved the planting of new native species in the areas lef vacant by the expanses of Gorse.  Landscape fabric and leaf mulch were used as deterants for sprouts from missed roots or new growth.  Over 50 new native shrubs and trees were planted in the vacated areas.  This included Shore pine, Snowberry, Ocean Spray, Douglas fir, Dull Oregon grape, and alder.

Monitoring 6 monts after the planting show that this method has been successful ths far.  The plants appear to be healthy and there are limited numbers of shoots appearing through the landscape fabric. 


 It was found that personal protective equipment, especially puncture-proof gloves, was absolutely essential in dealing with Gorse.  Also, pole saws were extremely advantageous for reaching stands of gorse upon steep banks.  Furthermore, it should be noted that cutting down the Gorse is only the first-step in eradication.  Follow-up treatments are essential to prevent re-growth.  The Veins of Life Watershed Society is working with Saanich Parks to control re-growth by mulching the area now cleared of Gorse.  Planting of native species is then the next step, and a continued maintenance program that checks the regrowth of Gorse and the potential growth of other pioneer species such as Himalayan blackberry or Scotch broom do not take advantage of the open space.

Gorse biomass collects quickly along Gorge Park.The process of its eradication in the park requires commitment over years to ensure that it will not return. 

  Email: volws@salishsea.ca

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