Vancouver moves to protect urban wildlife with new strategy

WATCH: Vancouver has a bold plan to bring a lot more green space back to the city. Linda Aylesworth reports.

Vancouver will see an increase in the size and quality of its natural areas as a new strategy to expand vital habitats for wildlife was approved Monday.

Commissioners of the Vancouver Park Board unanimously approved the Biodiversity Strategy as it moves forward with its vision for what they call “an urban environment in harmony with nature.”

According to the park board, the city’s natural areas include forests, wetlands, streams, shorelines, meadows and habitat for pollinators, birds, urban salmon and herring, and wildlife like beavers and otters.

The eleven-part action plan will promote, protect and enhance urban wildlife. “Our Biodiversity Strategy lays the foundation for the sustained ecological health of our city,” said Sarah Kirby-Yung, chair of the park board.

“It’s the road map for improving access to nature for all Vancouverites.”

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The park board has moved away from its traditional role as a custodian of green spaces with the creation of Hinge Park and Habitat Island at Olympic Village.

“Hinge Park is a prime example of how with a little creativity we can introduce novel habitats for biodiversity into dense urban neighborhoods,” said Nick Page, park board biologist.

A pair of beavers moved into the Hinge Park wetlands in the summer of 2015. The park board says they cut down trees for food and lodging and are well-loved by the local community.

Credit: Roz Leblanc
Credit: Roz Leblanc

Similar success stories as well as opportunities to protect, restore and enhance the size and quality of natural areas can be found across the city says the park board. Working with community partners, they have restored almost 13 hectares of forests in several parks and golf courses. They are also working closely with Port Metro Vancouver to restore coastal wetland habitat of the Salt Marsh at New Brighton Park along Burrard Inlet. The restoration is expected to be the first of its kind in B.C.

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The Biodiversity Strategy includes plans to better control invasive species, incorporate pollinator meadows into new and existing parks, and education programs to empower residents to enhance the ecological health of their own backyards.