Biodiversity Grows City Resilience
By Hannah Byrne
It is easy to feel disconnected from nature when living in a city. When we’re surrounded by concrete pavements, looming skyscrapers, and lines of traffic taking up every inch of space on our roads, there are fewer opportunities for green spaces. Even in Vancouver, where we are so fortunate to live close to the best that nature has to offer - mountains, forests, lakes, the ocean - there are still areas that can feel closed off from the environment around us.
Studies have shown that increasing the amount of green space in a city improves our health and wellbeing by reducing stress, encouraging physical activity, and improving air quality. But it is not just us who can benefit from bringing green back to our streets - urban green spaces provide an opportunity for biodiversity and for ecosystems to thrive, introducing more wildlife and increasing habitats for some of the busiest workers in our cities - pollinators. Bees, butterflies, birds, and other insects play an important role in maintaining the plant species that give us life - the plants that help us to breathe and the crops that feed us.
We could not survive without them, and within our cities, there are endless opportunities to protect them. All we need is a pot, some soil, and a packet of seeds.
For our 2019 Climate Guides project, the cities team have been working with our mentors to find ways to introduce more sustainable spaces in Vancouver. We started by looking at sustainable transportation, but eventually moved into public space and the potential under-utilised public spaces have for addressing climate change. We wanted to create a sustainable space of our own, but we also wanted it to be something that other people could engage in. That’s how we landed on creating a guide to pollination and the ways that individuals and communities can bring pollination and biodiversity to their areas.
Living in a city, so much of what happens to the space around us can feel out of our hands, but our project is aimed at educating people about the importance of biodiversity and pollination, and empowering them to create sustainable spaces in their own areas. By creating an illustrated guide, with steps, checklists, and resources, we want to show that anyone can do this, regardless of how much space you have. It can start with a pot on your balcony, but it can also grow into a bigger project that brings communities together to talk about and tackle the climate crisis at a local level. By taking on pollination projects and encouraging biodiversity in whatever small way we can, we can create cities that work for the environment, not against it.
When it comes to climate action, the time is now. We hope that our project will reach individuals and communities across Vancouver so that we can create a more sustainable world together.
Hannah Byrne is originally from Dublin, Ireland and has been living in Vancouver since June 2018. She works as Senior Online Content Producer for an Irish youth information website. She is passionate about climate change and believes each and every one of us can make a difference by introducing small changes into our lives and talking about it with the people around us. byrnewithme.com.