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Biodiversity Conservation Strategy

Two deer standing near a beach.

The Biodiversity Conservation Strategy (BCS), adopted in 2014 as part of Corporate Report R141, recognizes Surrey’s biodiversity as a key foundation of a healthy, livable and sustainable City. The goal of the Strategy is to preserve, protect, and enhance Surrey’s biodiversity in the long-term by:

  • Identifying and quantifying current biodiversity and habitat resources in the City;
  • Prioritizing options and establishing management criteria for the Green Infrastructure Network ("GIN");
  • Specifying management criteria and strategies for urban ecosystems and habitat elements;
  • Setting conservation targets for natural areas and indicator species;
  • Recommending policy and procedures that will support the initiatives in the Strategy; and
  • Providing a long term monitoring program that builds on management objectives, criteria and indicators to measure the success of the strategy.

Biodiversity Management Areas

The BCS divides Surrey into fourteen (14) Management Areas (based on geography, climate, land use, habitat quality and quantity etc.) that recognize a diversity of habitat types and ecosystems . Representative wildlife species are selected to guide management decisions in different management areas based on specific habitat requirements of these species.

Habitat Suitability Mapping

Habitat Suitability mapping is based on work completed for the 2011 Surrey Ecosystem Management Study and Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping data and incorporated information from the Environmentally Sensitive Areas ("ESA") map and other relevant data sources based on species at risk presence, species accounts and known ecosystem habitat inventories. This map identifies the most biologically diverse habitats across the City in a comparative analysis from highest value to lower values. The Habitat Suitability map also helps to direct the conservation of key biodiversity assets in the City and was used in part to derive the Green Infrastructure Network map.

Green Infrastructure Network

A Green Infrastructure Network ("GIN") is an interconnected system of natural areas and open space that conserves ecosystems and functions, while providing benefits to both wildlife and people as illustrated in the Green Infrastructure Network Map. The Surrey GIN has been developed following three core principles of biodiversity conservation.

  1. Preserving large core habitat areas.
  2. Ensuring connectivity between habitat areas.
  3. Providing a diversity of habitat features throughout the City.

The Surrey GIN identifies that approximately 10,200 acres (4,130 hectares) of land are required to maintain the City’s biodiversity. As the City develops over the next 40-50 years, land use tools are expected to result in the retention of approximately 2,000 acres (810 hectares) of land in support of the BCS, leaving approximately 1,100 acres (445 hectares) needing to be acquired in concert with the development of the City. Of the approximately 1,100 acres, just over 200 acres (81 hectares) are within the ALR.

Biodiversity Management Policy

The City has several tools to manage biodiversity, but there are limitations. Municipal authority is granted under the Local Government Act, which includes the ability to protect and acquire land/funds through parkland dedication or other mechanisms. In addition to the acquisition of lands, funding is required to support related biodiversity conservation strategies including development of a Farm Trustto support biodiversity stewardship on ALR lands, the development of specific habitat features and design elements, public education on environmental protection and restoration of GIN lands, as well as ongoing monitoring.

The BCS Policy Recommendations to support biodiversity are separated into categories. Many of these recommendations support and build on existing policy, including the OCP, the Sustainability Charter and Integrated Stormwater Management Plans. In addition the BCS summarize the condition and recommendations for the Biodiversity Corridors and proposed Hubs and Sites identified in the Green Infrastructure Network using the above noted mechanisms in Appendix J of the BCS.

Monitoring and Reporting

High level progress of the BCS and GIN acquisition will be monitored annually and reported upon as part of the annual Sustainability Charter Progress Report. A more detailed BCS monitoring report will be provided to Council every 4-years which summarizes the results from the BCS monitoring strategy and how it is specifically delivering on the BCS and the Environmental Pillar Objectives of the Sustainability Charter.

Implementation and Next Steps

  • Incorporate Sensitive Ecosystem Development Permit Areas (DPAs) and Guidelines within new OCP through future amendment;
  • Include the Suitability Habitat map into the OCP through a future amendment;
  • Develop Terms of Reference for the development of a Riparian Area By-law;
  • Develop a Financial Strategy to support the BCS;
  • Amendment to the Surrey Sustainable Development Checklist to include measures that support the BCS;
  • Bring forward housekeeping amendment to the Tree Protection By-law, Soil Conservation and Protection By-law, and Pesticide Use and Control By-law incorporating BCS mapping.

Contact our Drainage and Environment Office at 604-591-4691 and/or our Community Planning Division Office at 604-591-4485 with any questions on the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy, or any of the related BCS progress reports.