Charles Richardson Nature Reserve

Learn about Surrey's internationally recognized wetlands and where to enjoy them. 

Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world but are sometimes underappreciated. They can be hard to recognize and might appear to just be a soggy, messy spot in a field or a forest. In the past, wetlands were regarded as wastelands and commonly drained and cleared. Today, we know that wetlands provide significant benefits to wildlife and people.

What are Wetlands?

Wetlands are just that – wet! But not always year-round. Wetlands can be freshwater such as bogs, fens, marshes and swamps, or saltwater such as estuaries or mangrove forests. We don’t have mangrove forests in Canada, but we do have all the other types.

How Wetlands Help Us

Wetlands are important for us, too. They provide a wide range of ecological services. Wetlands are critical to maintaining watershed health and resilience. They help to control flooding, filter out pollutants, provide food and traditional medicinal plants, and store carbon to buffer the impacts of climate change. Did you know that 40% of all plants and animals live or breed in wetlands? Wetlands provide habitat and produce food for many different wildlife species like fish and birds. They are as rich in biodiversity as rainforests or coral reefs!

We should not take wetlands for granted. If you enjoy viewing wildlife and experience a sense of well-being when visiting a natural area, you know the value wetlands provide. This is especially true for Surrey, where our growing human footprint can reduce our connection to the natural world.

You can be part of ensuring wetlands are recognized as the valuable, special places they are and for the many benefits they provide to our community. Next time you see a wetland area that might not seem special, think of all these benefits they bring to us as part of the City's green infrastructure.

Take a Visit

One of the best spots to enjoy wetlands in Surrey is the Serpentine Wildlife Management Area where you can enjoy a 3.5km nature trail along the dyke. How many bird species can you count? Learn about the common birds of Surrey before you go. The trail will also take you along the Serpentine River—keep your eyes peeled for harbour seals as they have been known to swim up the channel from Boundary Bay.

We are actively helping to restore wetland areas in Surrey. The newly constructed wetland at Hawthorne Rotary Park provides many services such as filtering runoff from the road and spray park to integrate clean water back into the wetland. 

From the lake at Green Timbers Urban Forest Park to the swamp at Surrey Lake Park, you can find wetland areas in many Surrey parks. Don’t forget to share your nature observations through iNaturalist to help the City learn more about how these important ecosystems support local wildlife.