Where There’s a Willow, There’s a Way

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Our rehabilitation project aims to remove the dominant invasive species, Himalayan Blackberry, from Still Creek while using willow spiling as a natural living means of slope stabilization. Utilizing willow spiling lowers waste production, and its malleable nature creates opportunities for future use in a rain garden comprised of re-introduced native species.

School:

SFU

Department:

Faculty of Environment - School of Environmental Science

Course:

Environmental Science Capstone (EVSC 400)

Instructors:

  • Anna Hippmann

City of Vancouver:

  • Chelsea Borsoi
  • Stina Hanson

Student Team:

  • Julia Klossok
  • Kate May
  • Graeme Thomson
  • Ranbir Chadha

Strategy:

  • Rupert Renfrew Area Plan

Term:

Spring 2023

Summary

We set out to create a replicable rehabilitation plan for a section of Still Creek, north of the Grandview Highway Superstore, that focused on the removal of invasive Himalayan Blackberry and tackled aspects of Vancouver’s Rain City Strategy. At our site, Himalayan Blackberry was observed to have fully overtaken the riparian zone, leading to decreased biodiversity and ecosystem resiliency. Due to the amount of impervious surfaces that surround this segment of the creek, it was evident that runoff pollution poses negative implications on the creek’s water quality. Rain gardens, composed of compost, sand, well-draining topsoil, and deep-rooting native plants, act as a natural infiltration system by filtering pollutants from runoff, producing clean water that enters Still Creek. We opted to split our site into ten segments that would be worked on one at a time over a period of ten years to maintain stream bank stability. To prevent erosion resulting from Himalayan Blackberry removal, we sought a method that reduced waste production, prevented regrowth of Himalayan Blackberry, and could be later incorporated in the native rain gardens. Willow spiling, a method of staking then weaving willow to form natural barriers, fit our project goals perfectly.

This project seeks to increase the biodiversity, water quality, shade cover, habitat availability, and support for pollinators along Still Creek. Implementation of the proposed project framework along other sections of Still Creek and other riparian locations is recommended. This framework is especially suited towards impervious landscapes with small green spaces, as it provides solutions to urban runoff pollution and poses aesthetic potential for the public to enjoy.

 

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