Biodiversity Conservation in Surrey
Learn about Surrey's biodiversity goals, targets and conservation priorities.
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;
- 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 3,900 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:
- Preserving large core habitat areas (“Hubs”).
- Ensuring connectivity between habitat areas (“Corridors”).
- 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 2,700 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 like the Parks Agriculture Initiative which is examining the existing and potential role of agriculture in parkland.
Designing for Biodiversity
The City’s new Biodiversity Design Guidelines were developed as a complementary tool to support implementation of the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy. In particular the guidelines will provide direction on a range of recommended actions including:
- Resources to support integrating biodiversity approaches into land use choices.
- Improve connectivity and facilitate movement of wildlife across the City (e.g., best practices for wildlife crossings)
- Restoring degraded habitat during development
- Planting recommendations to ensure diverse, climate change resilient landscaping.
The guidelines are broken down into thematic areas that can be applied from the backyard to the neighbourhood level. Explore the Biodiversity Design Guidelines modules.
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.
Since 2019 the City has been actively participating in iNaturalist, an international platform that allows the public to contribute observations of plants and animals in their community. Each year we join the City Nature Challenge, a unique global marathon to add as many new observations as possible over a four-day period in late April.
Participate in the City Nature Challenge and other local projects on iNaturalist by joining 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.
Learn more about how Surrey is managing the natural environment.
For further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.