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Environment and Climate Change

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Protecting the region’s valuable natural environment, promoting ecological health, and supporting land use and transportation patterns that improve the region's ability to adapt to climate change are necessary to sustain a resilient place to live.

Metro Vancouver’s vital ecosystems continue to provide the essentials of life – clean air, water, and food. A connected network of habitats is maintained for a wide variety of wildlife and plant species. Protected natural areas provide residents and visitors with diverse recreational opportunities. Metro Vancouver and member municipalities continue to collaborate to meet their greenhouse gas emission targets and prepare for and mitigate risks from climate change and natural hazards.

Metro Vancouver focuses on the following four main areas, amongst others, in an effort to support policies and actions that build a vibrant, resilient, and desirable place to be.

Ecological Health​

Ecological health captures the connection among healthy functioning ecosystems, the valuable services they provide (often called ecosystem services), and human health and well-being. We can ensure that the ecosystem services in this region contribute to our collective well-being by maintaining and enhancing the integrity of local ecosystems​ and other natural features.

​​​Ecological Health Framework

Ecosystem services

Ecosystem services are the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. These services can be grouped into four main types:

  • Provisioning services include material and energy outputs from ecosystems, including food, fresh water, and raw materials used for construction and energy, like wood.
  • Regulating services refer to the services provided by ecosystems in processing and assimilating pollution, stabilizing water flows and soil erosion, controlling local climates, and storing or sequestering carbon.
  • Cultural services are the non-material benefits people obtain from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, recreation, and aesthetic enjoyment.
  • Supporting services underpin all other ecosystem services. Ecosystems provide habitats for all plants and animals, while depending on a diversity of species to maintain their own functions.

Urban forests

The term “urban forest” describes trees in parks, around buildings, along streets, and in backyards. Urban trees face challenging growing environments including proximity to traffic, poor soils, and confined roots. They also impacted increasingly by climate change including summer droughts, more intense storms, and greater susceptibility to damage from insects and diseases. Part of maintaining a healthy urban forest is to select and maintain trees for a changing climate.​​

Urban forests help communities cope with the impacts of climate change and contribute to the health and well-being of residents. Trees cool streets and buildings, improve water quality, intercept rain water, store carbon, and provide food and shelter for wildlife. The urban forest must be healthy to provide these benefits.

 

 

Metro Vancouver Tree Regulations Toolkithttps://metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/Documents/metro-vancouver-tree-regulations-toolkit.pdf, Metro Vancouver Tree Regulations ToolkitMetro Vancouver Tree Regulations Toolkit
Find more resources and studies on urban forestshttps://metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/resources-and-studies#k='urban%20forest'%20and%20'trees'#l=1033, Find more resources and studies on urban forestsFind more resources and studies on urban forests

​​Invasive spe​​​cies​

Invasive species are plants and animals that have bee​n introduced to an area without the predators and pathogens from their native habitats that would help keep them in check. They can threaten property and recreational values, infrastructure, agriculture, public health, safety, and the ecological health and diversity of our natural environment.

Invasive species in Metro Vancouver ​– ​a​​​n on​​line course

This one-hour in​troduct​​ory course ​will help you improve your awareness, detection, and control of invasive species in our region. The more eyes on the ground the better! By completing this course, you will learn:
  • What makes a species “invasive”
  • Impacts, vectors of spread and management practices
  • Key species to look out for in the Metro Vancouver region
  • Relevant policies and regulations
  • How to prevent and report invasive species

Best practices for invasive species management resources:​​

 

 

Invasive species best management practiceshttps://metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/resources-and-studies#k=best%20management%20practice#l=1033, Invasive species best management practicesInvasive species best management practices
Invasive species fact sheetshttps://metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/resources-and-studies#k=%22fact%20sheet%22%20and%20%22invasive%22#l=1033, Invasive species fact sheetsInvasive species fact sheets
How to stop the spread brochures​https://metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/resources-and-studies#k=%22invasive%22%20and%20%22brochure%22#l=1033, How to stop the spread brochures​How to stop the spread brochures​

​Sensit​ive e​cosystems

This map displays ecologically significant and relatively unmodified sensitive ecosystems including wetlands, older forests, and woodlands. It also includes human modified ecosystems with high ecological value such as old fields and young forests.

Natural hazards in the region​

Metro Vancouver has developed a series of maps as part of its Regional Multi-Hazard Mapping Project. This combined set of regional-scale maps will improve understanding of potential natural hazards in the region, including coastal flood, riverine flood, earthquake, and wildfire. Understanding potential hazards in the region is critical for making informed land use and infrastructure decisions and helps emergency managers better plan for and mitigate risks.

The Regional Multi-Hazard Maps are available upon request – contact RPH-RegionalPlanning@metrovancouver.org for access.​

The Tree Canopy Cover and Impervious Surface Report

Metro Vancouver has updated the regional tree canopy cover and imperious surface dataset and completed a comprehensive landscape-scale analysis of tree canopy cover and impervious surface across the region. The technical report summarizes levels from 2020, change since 2014, future tree canopy cover loss projections, and an estimation of lands potentially available for tree planting.

​​2020 Regional Tree Canopy Cover and Impervious Surface in Metro Vancouver

The Updated Tree Regulations Toolkit

The latest Metro Vancouver Tree Regulations Toolkit provides guidance on using regulatory tools that can help preserve trees and grow canopy. The toolkit was updated in 2024 with an increased focus on land-use tools. The updated toolkit provides essential information that policy makers, planners, and urban forestry practitioners can leverage to protect trees and increase tree canopy cover locally.

​​Metro Vancouver Tree Regulations Toolkit (Second Edition)

The worksheets in the toolkit can be used to assess a local government’s regulatory framework for protecting urban trees and identify opportunities for improvement. View these resources in the appendices of the toolkit, or access them individually below:

 

 

Worksheet to Review Higher-Level Planshttps://metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/Documents/tree-regulations-toolkit-worksheet-higher-level-plans.pdf, Worksheet to Review Higher-Level PlansWorksheet to Review Higher-Level Plans
Worksheet to Assess Land Use Bylaws and Development Permit Areashttps://metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/Documents/tree-regulations-toolkit-worksheet-land-use-bylaws-and-development-permit-areas.pdf, Worksheet to Assess Land Use Bylaws and Development Permit AreasWorksheet to Assess Land Use Bylaws and Development Permit Areas
Worksheet to Assess Development, Subdivision, and Servicing Bylawshttps://metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/Documents/tree-regulations-toolkit-worksheet-developmen-subdivision-and-servicing-bylaws.pdf, Worksheet to Assess Development, Subdivision, and Servicing BylawsWorksheet to Assess Development, Subdivision, and Servicing Bylaws


 

 

Sensitive Ecosystem InventorySensitive Ecosystem Inventory853859826

 Related Links

 

 

2018 Ecological Health Frameworkhttps://metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/Documents/ecological-health-framework.pdf, 2018 Ecological Health Framework2018 Ecological Health Framework
2019 Ecological Health Framework Progress Reporthttps://metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/Documents/ecological-health-framework-progress-report.PDF, 2019 Ecological Health Framework Progress Report2019 Ecological Health Framework Progress Report
Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant Projectshttps://metrovancouver.org/services/liquid-waste/iona-island-wastewater-treatment-plant-projects, Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant ProjectsIona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant Projects
Climate 2050https://metrovancouver.org/services/air-quality-climate-action/climate-2050, Climate 2050Climate 2050
Clean Air Plan 2021https://metrovancouver.org/services/air-quality-climate-action/Documents/clean-air-plan-2021.pdf, Clean Air Plan 2021Clean Air Plan 2021
Regional Parks Land Acquisition 2050 Strategyhttps://metrovancouver.org/services/regional-parks/land-acquisition-2050, Regional Parks Land Acquisition 2050 StrategyRegional Parks Land Acquisition 2050 Strategy

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