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5 ways Vancouver is bringing more wildlife back to the city

From restoring a salt marsh to creating wildlife corridors, Vancouver's biodiversity strategy aims to make wild animals at home in the city

Nick Page, a biologist with the Vancouver Park Board, in New Brighton Park where the park board and Port Metro Vancouver are working to restore the natural shoreline, including a salt marsh and a stream that empties into Burrard Inlet.

Jennifer Gauthier/For Metro

Nick Page, a biologist with the Vancouver Park Board, in New Brighton Park where the park board and Port Metro Vancouver are working to restore the natural shoreline, including a salt marsh and a stream that empties into Burrard Inlet.

The Vancouver Park Board biodiversity strategy is starting to take root, one year after the wide-ranging plan was approved to bring wildlife back to the city.

“There’s a social aspect to nature in the city — people want to be able to experience it as part of their daily lives,” said Nick Page, a biologist with the park board. 

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Here are five projects or goals the park board is working on right now to bring the wild back to Vancouver.

1.     Salt marsh restoration in New Brighton Park

Herons nesting in Stanley Park.

Courtesy Stanley Park Ecological Society

Herons nesting in Stanley Park.

Vancouver has drastically altered its shoreline to make more space for industry and housing. But in New Brighton Park on Burrard Inlet, Port Metro Vancouver and the park board are working to remove fill that was placed there in the 1960s and restore a tidal salt marsh. The aim is to restore a habitat that once supported clam beds, juvenile salmon and shore birds.

2.     Native plants instead of invasive species

An artist's rendering of Volunteer Park in Kitsilano with a re-established stream and beach access.

City of Vancouver

An artist's rendering of Volunteer Park in Kitsilano with a re-established stream and beach access.

In the 1940s and 50s, Everett Crowley Park in Vancouver’s Killarney neighbourhood was a city dump. Today, the park board is removing invasive species such as Himalayan blackberry and Japanese knotweed that have flourished — but make it impossible for native tree species to grow. Restoring native plants creates a more welcoming home for native B.C. wildlife such as squirrels, woodpeckers and owls.

3.     Bring buried creeks back into parks

The Arbutus Greenway and other corridors like it could help wildlife move through the city.

Jennifer Gauthier/For Metro

The Arbutus Greenway and other corridors like it could help wildlife move through the city.

Work is underway to reintroduce a creek back to New Brighton park, terminating in the salt marsh. That waterway is proposed to extend through Hastings Park along with a restored wetland. Tatlow Park in Kitsilano, where a stream once flowed, is another site the park board is considering. Bringing streams out into the open instead of flowing through pipes is actually cheaper and keeps the water cleaner, Page said.

4.     Create wildlife corridors

A beaver in Stanley Park.

Mark White

A beaver in Stanley Park.

To thrive, wildlife needs to be able to move around the city, Page said. So finding ways to make corridors through the city — like the still-under-design Arbutus Greenway — is also an important part of the strategy.

5.     Return of the wild

One way to measure the success of biodiversity efforts is when animals come back to areas they left decades ago. Beavers are a common sight in Stanley Park — but recently they returned to Charleson Park in south False Creek. Page would like to see the return of smaller predators such as the American marten because that would signal the ecosystem is healthy enough to support the full food chain. He acknowledges humans and animals can come into conflict in the city. But “I think we can co-exist. Our alternatives are much more difficult and probably unsuccessful in terms of trying to manage or remove [animals].”

Take Action

Plant a native species and pollinators for a bee-friendly garden, with a wide range of flowering plants that will provide blooms from early spring right through the growing season into fall. Not only will the bees visit, it will attract birds and butterflies as well. For tips visit feedthebees.org.

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