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Biodiversity Conservation in Surrey

a marsh on a sunny day

Biodiversity is the variety of life on earth. You’ll find biodiversity all around you: plants and animals, microscopic organisms, and even habitats they all rely on to survive. Healthy, diverse ecosystems give us “natural services” like clean water to drink, soil to grow our food, and the outdoor spaces we love to live near and play in.

Endorsed by Council in 2014, the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy 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 measuring current biodiversity and habitat resources
  • Establishing management approaches for the Green Infrastructure Network
  • Setting conservation targets for natural areas and indicator species
  • Recommending policies and procedures that support various objectives in the Strategy
  • Creating a monitoring program for biodiversity indicators to measure the success of the strategy over time.

The BCS Policy Recommendations support and build on existing City policies, including the Official Community Plan, the Sustainability Charter, Climate Adaptation Strategy and Parks, Recreation and Culture Strategic Plan.

The Green Infrastructure Network

Our City is connected by a Green Infrastructure Network (“GIN”). The GIN is approximately 3900 hectares of interconnected natural areas, green corridors and open space and is the backbone of the BCS. From backyards, boulevards and urban forests to wetlands, rivers and shorelines, the GIN identifies the pieces of the habitat puzzle necessary to maintain biodiversity values across the City.

The GIN evolved out of Surrey’s 2011 Ecosystem Management Study and the BCS’ Habitat Suitability map. Maintaining the GIN ensures we can conserve our diverse ecosystems and the services they provide for the long-term, which in turn benefits wildlife and people alike.

The GIN was designed with three core principles in mind:

  1. Preserving large core habitat areas (“Hubs”).
  2. Ensuring connectivity between habitat areas (“Corridors”).
  3. Providing a diversity of habitat features throughout the City (“Sites”).

The BCS also summarizes the condition and recommendations for existing and proposed Hubs and Corridors. See Appendix J of the BCS.

Approximately 6,675 hectares of the GIN is already secured through direct land dedication (e.g. parks) or other land use planning tools. For the GIN to achieve its intended benefits, a remaining 1,216 hectares will need to be protected or acquired.

How will this be accomplished? The City is investigating innovative funding mechanisms to secure these lands. A portion of the  remaining GIN is within the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). The City recognizes the critical importance of our food lands and the need to support a strong and vibrant agricultural community. Actions to protect biodiversity in the ALR will focus on innovative approaches such as on-farm conservation leases and stewardship activities.

Explore Surrey’s Green Infrastructure Network.

Monitoring Biodiversity in the City

Monitoring helps us detect changes affecting the environment. It provides an understanding of what actions are needed to address those changes. Using ecological indicators (e.g. species of plants and animals and the habitat they are associated with) is an important long-term monitoring tool. Monitoring also allows us to measure and check our progress in achieving the City’s biodiversity objectives.

Biodiversity indicators for Surrey include mammals, birds, amphibians, fish and insects. These species provide specific information we can use for management purposes. Measuring and monitoring biodiversity isn't only about native species. We also need to know about the spread and changes in non-native and invasive species. The list of indicator species is likely to change over time as we assess how effective they are at telling us about the health of our local ecosystems.

Explore Surrey’s biodiversity conservation indicator species.

Calling all Citizen Scientists!

We're engaging residents, businesses, City staff and visitors to become citizen scientists and build our collective knowledge of local biodiversity. We launched our flagship platform iNaturalist through the international City Nature Challenge in April 2020. 

Join iNaturalist today and learn how to make and add observations with this handy Getting Started Guide.

Biodiversity Stewardship and Management

The City works to protect and promote biodiversity conservation in many ways. Under the Provincial Local Government Act the City has a number regulatory tools, including the ability to protect and acquire land/funds through parkland dedication or other mechanisms.

Learn more about how Surrey is managing the natural environment.

For more information, contact the Environment Office at 604-591-4691 or the Community Planning Division Office at 604-591-4485.

Explore related biodiversity resources and initiatives

Surrey is leading the way in connecting the dots on local biodiversity actions. As the goals and objectives of the BCS are implemented over time, we will be working to profile our accomplishments through a host of regional, national and international initiatives.

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