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Designing Green Infrastructure for Biodiversity
By Sara Finnimore


Presenters: Julie McManus & Sylvie Spraakman (City of Vancouver)

Vancouver is an urban landscape consisting of habitat patches fragmented by urban development, roads, utilities and other land uses. Forests and marine habitats are still relatively abundant, but streams, wetlands, and meadows are rare.

Green Infrastructure (GI) is a tool that can be used to increase biodiversity and connectivity while managing rainwater. However the question remains, how can we best mimic nature in urban environments that have gone though significant change?

In 2022, city staff organized a citizen science to help us better understand the current state and quantify the future changes in biodiversity along St. George Rainway, a future four-block green infrastructure installation.

By understanding what is already in the ecosystem, and what is nearby, we were able to adopt planting design, maintenance and stewardship strategies that provide resources these species need including food, water and shelter.

This presentation will review the approaches taken to collect and assess data, selection of key indicator species, and recommendations on how to design GI for biodiversity that go beyond generalized suggestions such as inclusion of native plants.

It will also discuss the benefits and impacts of engaging the community in citizen science projects as an education and outreach tool for GI.

Learn more about the 2023 STEP Webinar Series.

Presenter Bios:

Julie McManus is a water steward and expert over 12 years experience in green rainwater infrastructure at Credit Valley Conservation and the City of Vancouver. She currently manages public education and engagement, as well as operation & maintenance for the Green Infrastructure Implementation team at the City of Vancouver. More recently Julie is taking on the management of large-scale green infrastructure projects across the City.

Sylvie Spraakman is a senior water resources engineer at the City of Vancouver in the Green Infrastructure Implementation Branch, and has a PhD in Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto, where her research focused on the long term performance of bioretention systems.