Rooted in Resilience: Planting for Biodiversity along the St. George Rainway

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We created a comprehensive, replicable, and resilient planting scheme for the St. George Rainway that supports keystone and key indicator species and increases biodiversity. We designed for humans as a keystone species and six insect and bird indicator species using 16 thoughtfully selected, resilient native plants. Our project provides a unique framework that integrates both social and environmental values.

School:

SFU

Department:

Environmental Science

Course:

Environmental Science Capstone (EVSC 400)

Instructors:

  • Anna Hippmann

City of Vancouver:

  • Julie McManus
  • Cassandra Humes

Student Team:

  • Yanik Nill
  • Hannah Marton
  • Danica Rogers

Term:

Fall 2023

Summary

*HUBBUB 21 Winners –  Most Impactful

The City of Vancouver is introducing green rainwater infrastructure (GRI) along St. George Street to better manage stormwater. Urbanization has created large areas of impermeable surfaces where water cannot penetrate. Heavy rainfall events overwhelm the stormwater system, and send polluted runoff directly into our waterways. Along with stormwater concerns, urbanization has led to habitat loss and fragmentation, and contributed to decreases in biodiversity. However, biodiversity has both ecologically and socially important roles, and is the foundation of resilient ecosystems.

We created a comprehensive, replicable, and resilient planting scheme for the St. George Rainway that supports keystone and key indicator species and aims to increase biodiversity. To monitor ecosystem health, we designed with specific indicator species in mind. The presence or absence of our selected birds and insects will act as indicators of change in the environment along the Rainway. To increase community engagement and care for the Rainway, we are considering humans as a keystone species. Keystone species play a considerable role in maintaining the balance and function of ecosystems. Though we can do great harm, the resilience of urban ecosystems is highly dependent on their relationship with humans. This design will foster a long-term, reciprocal relationship between humans and the Rainway. Our planting scheme incorporates 16 thoughtfully selected, native plants that support humans and our key indicator species, contribute to GRI function, and demonstrate resilience in the face of urban stressors and effects of climate change. To communicate the interconnectedness of our design to the people who work, live, and play in and around the St. George Rainway, we created informative Rainway signage and a website (resilientrainways.weebly.com). We hope they will help encourage an appreciation for the relationships between plants, indicator species, and the Rainway, and emphasize our keystone role in the Rainway’s future.

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