Urban park ecological restoration in Vancouver

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Urban park ecological restoration in Vancouver

Shows in black some key wildlife habitats in New Brighton Park and the proposed Salt Marsh restoration site. (I found this composite photo online and put the colony names in black and blue).

End of October 2015
New Brighton Park. proposal for ecological restoration and some ideas for future management

I was interested to see that there is an effort and plan to restore marsh and stream habitat in New Brighton Park in Vancouver, Canada. It is a 10-hectare park south of Burrard Inlet in East Vancouver. Having studied garden birds for many years (especially when I lived in the neighborhood from 86-95), I have some thoughts and will share them here, along with recent photos. visit mid-October 2015.

  • Twenty years ago, the neighborhood and the park were different. several vacant lots there, including vacant lots on Burrard Highway, which have since been paved and rebuilt; therefore, existing wildlife values ​​such as open spaces and undeveloped shorelines are at least enhanced.
  • Today the park has high biodiversity value and has the potential to become an important wildlife area in the city of Vancouver. Now most of the wildlife in the park is coastal marine species. Garden features such as grass dominate. Dogs and dog owners need these open spaces, and I respect that. However, it may be relatively easy to incorporate some "high natural value" features into this park to make it successful with people and wildlife.
  • The park needs a makeover. It is like a "meadow" like in the century, like many parks in the city. And the potential for a true "revival of nature" is remarkable, as the site chosen by the restoration organizers is a privileged area (the eastern end of the park). Every effort should be made to make New Brighton a new nature interpretation experience for people and a great haven for urban biodiversity.


1. The park's wildlife, biodiversity and nature interpretive values ​​have already been "discovered" by planners who have documented them in their reports. Wildlife values ​​should be better documented and openly displayed. On the map above I have provided some of the main "common habitats" that the park currently offers wildlife. Some of them are very recently decorated new creations. "The fat of the trees and the rough edges of the meadows" are important to the birds. We saw skylarks here for the first time this year, a rare occurrence within the Vancouver city limits. Large deciduous trees (eastern maples, eastern oaks, aspens) are wonderful feeding and resting places for migratory birds and important refuge for birds of prey (including sparrows, hawks, etc.) and border the interior of the park from the railway line. and near the wells, on the eastern edge of the wheat, a perfect border. The newly added "Bridge Cleaning Feature" on the freeway overpass is a very good idea; Scattered tree shoots and leaves are beneficial to wildlife, even if they are non-native plants (most people don't realize how important some non-native species can be to native butterflies, other insects, songbirds, etc.). Other older man-made features such as "dolphins" (ie columns, in this case old log supports). This feature is located in the marine environment west of the park boundary and is very important to bald eagles and many seabirds. Several "new" mini-bays have been created, providing a gentle slope and beach-like intertidal conditions, where a full embankment previously existed (filled with construction debris, etc.). Finally, the offshore waters are teeming with life and offer excellent opportunities to see fish, seals, sea lions, seabirds, waterfowl and more, often in spectacular wildlife scenes. The whole country is therefore on the way to recovery.

2. It should be noted that many of the "incremental" changes have degraded and destroyed biodiversity and wildlife "micro-habitats" around Hastings Sunrise as well as around this park. The two Google Earth images below show significant habitat loss in the western part of the park over the past 13 years. Regenerating rice paddies, riparian grasslands and secondary grasslands/forests have been lost.

These Google Earth images show the destruction of nursery habitats in western New Brighton Park. The widening of roads, the creation of parking lots, the creation of new housing estates have had a detrimental effect on biodiversity at the local level. We hope that the restoration work in the park will help to compensate. In fact, we owe it to wildlife and quality of life to renew the nature of urban parks, where the potential is great.
3. New Brighton is a multi-use park, not a nature park. We don't want to remove anything or limit user usage. Conversely, some small-scale strategic management actions will improve the overall visitor experience. An example is the idea of ​​"rough fishing". This is very important for wildlife and enhances aesthetic values. A small change in mowing speed makes a big difference. otherwise, all applications remain more or less the same.

4. Disturbances caused by humans and dogs to wildlife can be regulated. The area has several significant wildlife populations at certain times of the year. Birds of prey, waterfowl, owls, seals, and otters need space and will be moved by poorly planned trails and unplanned human-wildlife interfaces. Therefore, planners must be careful to ensure coverage when designing habitat restoration features. The "island" idea of ​​wetland restoration is a good one. Wildlife experts should be consulted.

5. This wetlands restoration project is a must for Vancouver and a model project for urban parks everywhere. The program supports the direction of the Vancouver Parks Board's Ray-Wilding Strategic Plan and Action Plan. It also sets the vision for the 2010 Hastings/NEP Park Master Plan and the 1997 New Brighton Park Master Plan. The potential creation of a salt marsh in New Brighton Park is an important part of the long-term restoration plan for Renfrew Creek. New Brighton Park is one of the few remaining significant wetland restoration opportunities on the south coast of Burrard Inlet. Industrialization along the coast from Stanley Park to Second Nile and beyond has damaged the canal's ability to support its rich natural fish and wildlife communities. There is no habitat for small fish. Juvenile fish from the Seymour River and other inlets experience high mortality when migrating to the Burrard River. The restored salt marsh will provide productive habitat for young fish, shorebirds and waterfowl. The site would have added value for terrestrial biodiversity if the management of the park included micro-measures to improve grassland edges and other micro-habitats.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS PROJECT AND SUBSCRIBE: vancouver.ca/newbrightonsaltmarsh

Looking east from Park Bridge (second narrow bridge) across the bridge walkway (second narrow bridge in the distance). A rice field separated by several willows, large leaf maples and other trees is ideal for birds to pass through.

From the Bay of Thorns, the fig tree ( Ficus carica ), a tree I know well from Greece. It's in Vancouver and will get better as the weather warms. I don't think it's a particularly invasive alien species. While I am in favor of eliminating invasive exotic grasses, we should not be too sensitive about urban areas, as urban wildlife find resources, shelter and comfort in many of them. .

The waters of Burrard Inlet were crystal clear in mid-October.

A lone fisherman in Burrard Cove. Harbor seals are easily seen here every day. This bay is man-made, natural and truly wonderful for people and wildlife.

Most of the wildlife action takes place in the stream. The variety of birds is amazing, but I was only able to capture a few Canada Geese with our cheap Insta digital camera.

The combination of nature and industry defines the landscape of New Brighton.

Canada But seriously, the park is a great place to watch birds; One October morning they saw 20 species on a short walk.

These are the "dolphins" immediately west of the park boundary; here was a small rainbow trout in the early 1980s. Today, they are a common landing spot for bald eagles. This powers the new GW seagull. (The term "dolphin" is associated with coastal pillars in British Columbia if I remember correctly.)

The western boundary of the park boundary. Beyond this fence was a vacant lot with several birds in the 80's (I also saw long eared owls, snow geese, etc. on this lot. It's great ! Paved parking for trucks and loading docks.

Rocky grass and some underwater surprises at low tide. In clear water, I observed shields and other fish.
Most of the garden is like this. The open space is large. It gives a sense of security and is ideal for racing dogs. Some birds like geese also like it. However, in some areas the creation of an odd grass border will enhance wildlife and aesthetic values.

It is the tennis court on the east side of the stand (little used), where the restoration of the salt marsh is planned. I hope some of these trees will be cut down to give the swamp a sense of open space. Salt marshes in Pacific estuaries have an opening, so it is important not to block them with trees. Also, large waterfowl, waterfowl and most raptors need openings for "cover" and safety (they don't want to be startled or "boxed in" by other predators).

Two Western Grebes, this one photographed at New Brighton on October 9th, a rare sighting in the Vancouver area. Proof that the park is important for wildlife. The park has a long list of birds, including many rare birds.
A beautiful bright morning at the west end of the park where trees have recently been planted. Many have survived and are doing well in open woodland habitats. Western meteors have been seen near the thick seagrass beds in this area.

An architect's proposal for New Brighton Park circa 1960. Exhibited at PNE (Pacific National Exhibition). Note the anthropocentric and spatial age of the earth. They predominate in open spaces - so... XX. century, don't you think?

New Brighton Park is located in East Vancouver, off Canada Highway 1, in a fjord known as Burrard Inlet.

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