Environment

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 Toolkit

Invasive Species

Invasive species are plants and animals that have been 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: An Online Course

This one-hour introductory 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

To learn about best practices for invasive species management, view the resources below:


Sensitive Ecosystems

This map displays ecologically significant and relatively unmodified sensitive ecosystems including wetlands, older forests, and woodlands. It also includes human modified ecosystems that retain ecological value such as seasonally flooded agriculture fields or young forests.

The sensitive ecosystem inventory was conducted from January 2010 to May 2012 across a 367,000-hectare study area covering Metro Vancouver and Abbotsford.