We must restore biodiversity to create a closer relationship between our built and natural environments.


Diversity Equals Health

Biodiversity is critical to the overall health of our planet. Cities suffer from limited biodiversity. We can restore the biodiversity potential of our building sites through the integration of street level and vertical landscape elements. In doing so, we create a closer relationship between the built and natural environments.

Biodiversity encompasses all living species (flora and fauna) on Earth and their relationships to each other. Having many different things allows nature to recover from change. Three components of biodiversity are: 1) ecosystem, 2) species, and 3) genetic diversity.1 Biodiversity is the foundation of ecosystem services or ecological goods and services—the goods and services that are naturally provided by biodiversity and healthy ecosystems and are fundamental to the success of our economy.2


Biodiversity under Threat

A recent article published by the Guardian entitled What is Biodiversity and Why Does it Matter? presented some compelling and daunting facts about the state of our planetary and biodiversity health:

  • biodiversity is under threat from competing land uses, pollution, population growth and human activities;
  • there are about 1.7 million species of animals, plants and fungi that have been recorded, but there are likely to be 8-9 million and possibly up to 100 million;
  • the extinction rate of species is thought to be about 1,000 times higher than before humans dominated the planet;
  • The sixth mass extinction in geological history has already begun according to some scientists; and
  • approximately 15% of the Earth’s wild places and 7% of the oceans have been dedicated as natural reserves. A global treaty, the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), has set many targets, for example protecting 17% of all land and 10% of the oceans by 2020, are likely to be met.3


Protecting Biodiversity

While efforts to protect biodiversity at a global level are imperative, national and local governments must also act. The Canadian Federal government has aspirational biodiversity goals and targets for 2020 which are complemented by the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy and the Biodiversity Outcomes Framework. Implementation of the goals and targets rely on meaningful participation of Aboriginal peoples, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.4

More locally, the City of Vancouver Park Board approved a Biodiversity Strategy in 2016 to guide ongoing work to protect, enhance, and restore biodiversity throughout the park system. Together with the Urban Forest Strategy, the Rewilding Action Plan, and the Vancouver Bird Strategy, it provides a foundation for protecting and restoring natural areas, species and ecological processes, and for improving access to nature in all of Vancouver’s neighbourhoods.5

What is evident in this discussion on biodiversity is that we must take every possible opportunity to protect nature and integrate nature back into our urban environments. Without a healthy and biodiverse ecosystem, we will not be able to withstand or adapt to changes we face as our climate shifts.



  1. “What is Biodiversity?” biodivcanada. (