Building for Biodiversity

Enhancing Northeast False Creek’s intertidal biodiversity through shoreline design.




Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences


ENVR 400


  • Tara Ivanochko
  • Michael Lipsen

City of Vancouver:

  • Angela Danyluk

Student Team:

  • Marie Donohue
  • Tamara Walton
  • Weihao Wang
  • Qin Li


  • Greenest City Action Plan (GCAP)

City goal area:

  • Access to Nature
  • Clean Water


Spring 2019


Our team aims to give the Northeast False Creek (NEFC) flats a biodiversity makeover as we team up with City of Vancouver (CoV) staff to develop a plan for creating healthier intertidal zones. Our recommendation is to lengthen the steep slopes that flank the water to provide space for the essential large, rugged boulders that house and enable the growth of this long-term marine life. We look to support healthy food and spawning habitats, while the increased biodiversity would promote the filtration of urban run-off and other toxic substances from the water. 

Northeast False Creek is Downtown Vancouver’s largest remaining piece of undeveloped waterfront. In 2015, the CoV made plans to transform the region into a new, vibrant seaside destination. Guiding this development is the NEFC Plan, which aims to ensure the new shoreline design enhances biodiversity in NEFC’s intertidal zones. The primary objective of our study is to provide the CoV with shoreline design recommendations that will help them achieve this goal.

Our results showed that intertidal biodiversity is most strongly correlated with acorn barnacle abundance, rockweed abundance, and substrate size. Specifically, biodiversity tends to decrease with acorn barnacle abundance and increase with rockweed abundance and larger substrate size.

To promote the features listed above, we recommend Creekside Park’s current riprap is replaced with larger, more rugged boulders. To do this, Creekside Park’s shoreline will have to be flattened and extended, as large substrates would be unstable on the current slope. This will in turn enhance rockweed abundance by increasing the available space for root attachment and promoting settlement and survival of their spores. With larger substrates and more rockweed, the abundance of acorn barnacles should decrease. This is because larger substrates are less frequently turned over by waves, which helps to prevent dominance of fast-growing barnacles. Meanwhile, the brushing of rockweed against substrate dislodges settling acorn barnacle larvae, opening up space for other intertidal organisms.

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