The Vancouver Park Board has voted unanimously in favour of a biodiversity strategy that will see 25 hectares of “natural area”  in the city restored or enhanced by 2020.

There are 20 at-risk species in the city according to the park board, which considers its new strategy a “legacy piece” that will ensure future generations can enjoy the biodiversity of Vancouver’s forests, shorelines, and marshes.

“Somebody needs to do it. I would hate to be living in a city in 20 years when these natural areas are not here,” said Sarah Kirby-Yung, the chair of the Vancouver park board.

“It’s why we live here. It’s why a lot of tourists come to visit.”

There were approximately 847 hectares of natural areas in Vancouver in 2010 according to the report.

What biodiversity looks like

Restoration projects are already under way in areas like Jericho Beach and New Brighton Park. It’s rewarding work, says park board biologist Nick Page.

“Seeing whales come back to English Bay, otters in Lost Lagoon, fish coming back to Still Creek, I think there’s lots of good examples of things that are succeeding,” he said.

“It indicates how important wildlife and biodiversity are to the city.”

While keeping track of biodiversity can be challenging, Page says the park board is considering using citizen science to help.

“Citizen science [is] using citizen volunteers to collect data on populations like seabirds along the sea wall, water quality in False Creek, how many salmon come back to Still Creek.”

Vancouver residents can also buy and plant trees on their own property to create more habitat for wildlife.

The city plans to sells trees for “rock-bottom” prices for one week in April to encourage people to plant more greenery in their yards.