By Lena Sin, The Province

The social media campaign to “Save Mary Lake” on Vancouver Island has attracted supporters from around the globe and raised $80,000 in just six weeks.

The campaign is aimed at saving a parcel of dry coastal Douglas fir ecosystem that’s set to be developed into residential lots. The Mary Lake Conservancy wants to raise enough money — $4.5 million for all 43 hectares (107 acres) — to buy and preserve it.

The campaign’s centrepiece is an online digital map in which donors can purchase virtual square metres.

So far, over 12,000 square metres have been purchased by supporters from as far away as Japan, Australia, Denmark and Scotland.

The website,, has been visited by people from 45 different countries spanning six continents, according to the Mary Lake Conservancy. They have also gained support through the use of Twitter (596 followers) and Facebook fans (417).

“I’m astounded by the generous donations and incredible encouragement we have received in such a short time,” says Mary Lake Conservancy leader Bob McMinn.

Locally, the campaign has received support from Elizabeth May, leader of the federal Green Party, as well as the four regional councils of Central Saanich, Colwood, View Royal and Highlands.

The campaign still needs to raise $1 million by the end of January 2011. Digital square metres can be purchased starting from $10.

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