Biodiversity conservation in the Fraser Valley
The Fraser Valley contains many beautiful and ecologically sensitive areas. With picturesque landscapes and an abundance of wildlife (as well as relatively affordable homes), the area has become an increasingly desirable place to live. Therein lies the problem: growing residential and commercial development is hampering the Fraser Valley’s biodiversity. From the Phantom Orchid’s scarcity due to habitat loss, to the Red Legged Frog’s treacherous migration over major roads, the human impact on the fragility of Fraser Valley ecosystems is undeniable.
This is why the Fraser Valley Conservancy (FVC) started their Biodiversity Conservation Strategy program. A partnership between the Environment Canada Habitat Stewardship Program, Canadian Wildlife Service, numerous Fraser Valley stewardship groups, and all levels of government, the project builds upon previously compiled data. The FVC has also completed comprehensive mapping to help determine which areas of land should be conserved and those that can better withstand development. It also allows the FVC to promote the acquisition of land by the land trust, thereby preserving areas with ecological and historic value and the species that reside there.
The strategy was broken down into three planning phases. The first organized a steering committee to define the goals of the program and review pre-existing data. The second phase confirmed strategic partnerships, identified gaps in the pre-existing data, and defined how the program would fill those gaps. The coordinator also led municipal workshops to promote the Conservation Strategy and the FVC’s other conservation tools in the region. The third phase refined the strategy based upon the data collected and defined the upcoming phases of the program. The written strategy is now available for use by governments, environmental stewards, and environmental advocacy groups.
One element of the strategy is wildlife reports produced by the FVC. These reports identify ecologically sensitive wildlife and their habitat in relation to private land development and can be commissioned by anyone from a curious land owner to a real estate developer. Giving standard assessment of known species in the area, the reports encourage conservation of those species.
While the initial Biodiversity Conservation Strategy was completed in December 2010, it is actually a living document that will change as knowledge and awareness of the importance of conservation progresses.
“The [strategy] will guide the Fraser Valley Conservancy in the future as it moves into more strategic land preservation activities,” says Lisa Fox, the Conservancy’s Executive Director. “In the near future the FVC will be asking for participation from Fraser Valley residents through surveys and social media and updating maps as new data comes into being through stewardship work. We’re getting a better picture on threats to biodiversity from invasive plants as well as new knowledge of rare and unique habitats because stewards are reporting out on their activities.”
In 2009, the Real Estate Foundation awarded the Fraser Valley Conservancy $17,450 to develop the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. This program falls under the Foundation’s mandate for supporting applied research and education that promotes sustainable land use.
To learn more about the Fraser Valley Conservancy, visit their website.
By Alicia Olive