The Vancouver Park Board has approved a plan to enrich the natural environment of the city.
Park commissioners voted unanimously on Monday (February 1) in favour of a biodiversity strategy to restore or enhance 25 hectares of natural areas by 2020.
“It’s the road map for improving access to nature for all Vancouverites and ensuring biodiversity is a celebrated part of city life well into the future,” park board chair Sarah Kirby-Yung said in a statement.
According to a staff report, natural areas are forests, wetlands, streams, and other ecosystems that are composed primarily of native plants and animals. Older forests in Stanley Park, wetlands in Jericho Beach Park, the Still Creek corridor, and Trout Lake are among the natural areas in the city.
Vancouver had 847 hectares of natural areas as of 2010, according to staff. These include forests, shorelines, streams, wetlands, and meadows.
Priority actions include restoring native forests in large parks such as Stanley, Jericho Beach, Musqueam, Everett Crowley, and Renfrew Ravine.
Another measure is the improvement of the ecosystem health of False Creek, Still Creek, and Musqueam Creek.
“While the Biodiversity Strategy emphasises the importance of native ecosystems and species, it also recognises the value of urban habitats such as green roofs, constructed wetlands, and pollinator gardens in supporting biodiversity within the city,” the staff report explained.
The target of 25 hectares is roughly the size of the VanDusen Botanical Garden, and half the area of the Langara Golf Course, according to staff.
Staff also noted that Stanley Park accounts for 28 percent of the total area of parks in Vancouver, and around 67 percent of all natural areas in the city.
“Biodiversity is interwoven into Vancouver’s urban landscape: migrating songbirds nest in our forests, salmon spawn in our remaining streams, and tall trees define some of our most important parks,” according to staff.
Staff also emphasized that biodiversity is “part of a healthy city, access to nature sustains the mental and physical health of Vancouver’s citizens”.