Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Supporting Ecological Services on Farmland

Belted Kingfisher on Tree - Arbour Ribbon Trail between Glover Road and McLeod Athletic Park

Agricultural land in Metro Vancouver provides many services that promote our region's economic, environmental and ecological health and, therefore, support the quality of life for people who live here.

Beyond farming, unfarmed lands in agricultural areas also:

  • Provide habitat for many wildlife species.
  • Promote soil development.
  • Slow down water movement and soil loss to erosion during floods.
  • Provide water storage that helps recharge groundwater, increasing and prolonging water availability for crops and irrigation.
  • Draw carbon dioxide and clean air due to increasing vegetation.
  • Filter manure and fertilizer run-off.
  • Support better drainage, reducing ponding in fields and improving livestock health by reducing saturated pastures.
  • Support beneficial insects such as ladybugs and bees, which improve pollination.
  • Provide food and wood for residents and wildlife.
  • Support healthy fish habitats.
  • Increase the resiliency of farms.
  • Provide traditional food and medicine for Indigenous communities.
  • Provide trails, recreation, bird and animal watching opportunities.

As a whole, we call these ecosystem services, and the Metro Vancouver Regional District is looking into the viability of the following two options to enhance these ecosystem services:

Approach #1: Collaborate with local governments and the province on policies and regulations that support ecosystem services on agricultural land.

Approach #2: Establish a regional conservation fund to support programs that steward ecosystem services on agricultural land.

The regional district is now looking at the next steps for these approaches. With 40% of Metro Vancouver's sensitive ecosystems on agricultural land, this will be an essential piece of work for the region.

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