On March 9th, the BCWF Wetlands Education Program hosted a Working Group Workshop to discuss wetlands in the Lower Mainland. Entitled “Strengthening Linkages to Academia for Regional Wetland Conservation,” this workshop’s goal was to focus on how researchers and on the ground conservationists could find resources and develop partnerships to enhance wetland conservation projects.
The workshop, which was held at the Burnaby Lake Rowing Pavilion, in Burnaby, B.C., was extremely successful, with participants of all backgrounds, ranging from government to non-profits to academics. Throughout the day, there were keynote presentations, a panel discussion, and breakout sessions, all which allowed attendees the opportunity to network with other organizations and formulate ideas on how to develop a research sharing network to expand conservation initiatives and compile a list of those interested in partnering on projects.
Ken Ashley, Ecological Restoration Instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), presented on the Ecological Restoration Program that is offered at BCIT in partnership with Simon Fraser University (SFU). Through this program, Ken has mentored many students with wetlands focused research that has morphed into tangible projects expanding wetland conservation.
Michelle Molnar, Environmental Economist for the David Suzuki Foundation, gave a well-rounded presentation that explained the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI), a project that aims to identify, value and account for natural assets within municipalities to provide recommendations on infrastructure development. Michelle spoke about how this project links to wetlands conservation, and the current gaps in research the MNAI is hoping to bridge.
The final speaker, Sarah Howie, Environmental Research Analyst with the City of Delta, gave a contextual overview of the research and partnerships that are currently being conducted in Burns Bog, a protected bog located in Delta, B.C. Sarah identified major research projects that are being conducted in the area, as well as identified opportunities for partnerships moving forward.
Keynote speakers were asked to come up front a final time to be present on a panel discussion with two additional academics, George Nicholas, professor at SFU, and Mike McPhee, professor at Douglas College. George has focused his research on wetlands archaeology and their connections to Indigenous peoples. Mike’s research has focused on the history behind the development of cities and how it has altered streams throughout New Westminster, B.C. Members of the panel answered questions related to wetland conservation and how to ensure projects are funded by the current government in power.
The workshop ended with group breakout discussions that allowed participants the opportunity to deepen their discussion on a topic of interest that came up throughout the workshop. The breakout session was divided into four topics: 1) Youth Education, 2) Grant Funding, 3) Research Linkages and 4) Lack of Legislation. Many important insights were made during these sessions and tangible next steps were formulated to develop a network sharing hub that connects organizations working on wetlands projects. Overall, the workshop was extremely successful, with minor bumps along the way. The BCWF wetlands education team are looking forward to hosting the next workshop and digging deeper into issues related to wetland conservation!
A big thanks to all the participants present for the workshop on March 9th. A special thank you to the featured speakers and panelist members who offered up their expertise. Finally, this workshop would not have been possible without the generous financial support of the B.C. Wildlife Federation, Wildlife Habitat Canada, and Environment and Climate Change Canada.