Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 60.39
Liaison Christine Pinkham
Submission Date March 30, 2021

STARS v2.2

British Columbia Institute of Technology
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.50 / 1.00
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution own or manage land that includes or is adjacent to legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, or regions of conservation importance?:
No

A brief description of the legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance:
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Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify endangered and vulnerable species (including migratory species) with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution?:
No

A list of endangered and vulnerable species with habitats on land owned or managed by the institution, by level of extinction risk:
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Has the institution conducted an assessment to identify areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution?:
Yes

A brief description of areas of biodiversity importance on land owned or managed by the institution:

The Burnaby campus is the largest campus at 130.7 acres. It has a network of approximately 54 buildings located on the north end of campus. The south end of campus has a forested area with second growth trees and other vegetation characteristic of its Coastal Western Hemlock biogeoclimatic zone (CWHdm). The campus is situated in the Brunette River watershed and Guichon Creek runs directly through the campus. The area was used by Indigenous people primarily for hunting prior to it being logged following European settlement. The Brunette watershed was historically full of fish, such as salmon and trout, and functioned as important wildlife habitat.

During the 1920’s Guichon Creek was still a vibrant part of the ecosystem, and people could catch fish along its banks. From 1930 to 1960 the creek was urbanized and the lower half was culverted, travelling underground through the north-east quadrant of the campus. Guichon Creek has long been recognized by BCIT as an area of biodiversity importance in need of restoration.


The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or areas of biodiversity importance and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

Ecological Restoration is a scientific discipline that has emerged due to the increasing need to restore degraded and damaged ecosystems. Many ecosystem goods, services, and natural habitats have been severely impacted due to the cumulative impacts of previous and ongoing anthropogenic influences, including for example: urban sprawl, industrial expansion, invasive species, and contamination of soils and water resources. Ecological restoration is the process of returning ecosystems and habitats to original structure and species composition – a reinstatement of driving ecological processes. Ecological restoration on campus allows sustainable land use, by restoring habitat, plants, and animals, both on-campus and where on-campus activities affect off-campus ecology.

In the 70’s and 80’s restoration work began at the south end of the creek. Students and staff from the School of Construction and the Environment’s (SOCE) Fish, Wildlife, and Recreation (FWR)and Ecological Restoration (ER) programs have worked for 25 years to restore the creek by following Ecological Restoration best practices. This included determining how it was believed the ecosystem functioned, developing goals and objectives, preparing a plan and monitoring program and implementing the plan. For Guichon Creek this involved re-establishing streamside vegetation, enhancing in-stream habitat, and improving water quality, with help from donors and the City of Burnaby. Now a successful example of urban stream restoration, and sensitive habitat for fish and wildlife, the creek was even repopulated with cutthroat trout in 2006.

Trout and salmon face barriers navigating upstream through the underground section of the culvert. ‘Daylighting’ the entire length of Guichon Creek will complete the ecological restoration and yield a functional aquatic ecosystem. Daylighting refers to the process of restoring a stream from underground pipes to the surface. This process reduces toxic run-off into lakes, increases trout and salmon populations, protects riparian biodiversity, and reminds us of the fragile beauty of our environment, and the many reasons to protect it.

Adjacent to the creek is an area in the south campus forest that historically was a small wetland but had been filled in. This area was identified as a potential biodiversity hotspot. Ken Ashley, Director of the BCIT Rivers Institute, had a restoration plan to build a small wetland in the area. In Ken’s words “When you put a wetland in, you really get a boost of biodiversity. And from a climate point of view, they store a huge amount of carbon which is really important. They’re called the kidneys of the landscape as they help remediate environmental problems by filtering pollutants or sediment”.

In September 2020, students from the SOCE’s ER, Forest and Natural Areas Management, and FWR programs worked together in collaboration with staff to build a small wetland near Guichon Creek. They excavated and reshaped the area of the basin of the wetland, planted wetland plants, added bat and bird houses, making it closer to what the original habitat function was.

The Facilities department will build a proposed wooden walkway in summer 2021. Students will collaborate on educational signage to engage the BCIT community and its neighbours. The students who built the wetland, and others, will be able to continue to use the area as a living lab, monitoring how it evolves, documenting changes and periodically re-evaluating the program and adaptively manage.

More information on the project can be found in the article and video at the link: https://commons.bcit.ca/news/2020/11/south-wetland-restoration-project/

The area on the opposite side of Guichon Creek next to the south campus forest was a gravel parking lot until recently and is undergoing ecological restoration. A landscaped natural area has been designed to enhance the Guichon Creek watershed and reduce sediment run off. The restoration began in 2019, with the addition of fill from the construction of the new Health Science Centre – reducing impacts from trucking and disposing of the fill offsite. The fill has been contoured with natural features and a variety of habitat types planted in spring 2021. This includes forested areas, wetter zones and a pollinator garden on the south side. Once the new planting is established it will not only have restored the gravel area but will help control some of the invasive species that are currently in the forest beside the creek.


A brief description of the scope of the assessment(s):

All assessments done as part of the Ecological Restoration process for Guichon Creek and surrounding areas have been limited to the Burnaby Campus.


A brief description of the plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats, and/or ecosystems:

BCIT’s policy on Economic, Social, and Environmental Sustainability serves as an umbrella policy to guide the development and implementation of new policies and programs that will advance sustainability at BCIT. The policy has seven sustainability goals, one of which is to become ecologically restored (i.e., restoration of campus ecosystems and native species). All members of the BCIT community have responsibilities towards advancing the Institute’s sustainability goals. BCIT employees involved with sustainability initiatives will monitor progress, using measurable, quantifiable information to report in an objective, transparent manner.

https://www.bcit.ca/files/pdf/policies/1010.pdf

BCIT’s Campus Development Plan identifies daylighting the entire length of Guichon Creek as an important objective that supports the Institute’s sustainability goal to become ecologically restored and a functional aquatic ecosystem.

https://www.bcit.ca/facilities/campus-development/campus-plan/

The BCIT Capital Plan 2021-2025 describes three planned projects and how they address the Institute’s strategic objectives. New buildings will model sustainable building technologies. Replacing obsolete buildings and constructing new buildings away from the culverted section of Guichon Creek will support the daylighting of the creek. The culvert that the creek runs through is in poor condition with recent sink holes. The daylighting will provide an ecologically restorative solution to the situation, and serve and an important north-south pedestrian connection through the campus.

https://www.bcit.ca/files/facilities/campusdev/pdf/bcit_5yr_capital_plan_2021.pdf

In addition to restoration efforts, BCIT has committed to protect the current green space on campus. No more land can be used for additional parking, as stated in formal memorandum of understanding BCIT signed with the City of Burnaby in 2001.


Estimated percentage of areas of biodiversity importance that are also protected areas :
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Website URL where information about the institution’s biodiversity initiatives is available:
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Additional documentation to support the submission:
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The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.