Green Links: A Case Study in Urban Connectivity
Lindsay Kathrens, Zacc Lavigne, Lynn Rannankari, Ocean Wang
Keywords. Connectivity, novel ecosystem, urban fragmentation, habitat corridor
Summary. Green Links is an urban connectivity project initiated by Dr. Valentin Schaefer and a team of graduates from the Douglas Institute of Urban Ecology. The project took place in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia between 1996 and 2005. This project was initiated in response to habitat fragmentation in urban areas within the Lower Mainland, as caused by extensive urbanization and land use change. Green Links was implemented with the primary goals of increasing biodiversity and habitat connectivity, through the enhancement of habitat corridors. Drawing inspiration from connectivity projects in forest ecosystems, which aim to increase the mobility of wildlife across clear-cuts, Green Links is one of the first major projects in Canada to apply connectivity logic to the urban environment. By creating a matrix of patches and corridors connecting city parks, utility right-of-ways, backyards, balconies, streams, and forests, Green Links’ aim was to facilitate species abundance and allow for the movement of flora and fauna within the municipalities of Delta, Surrey, Burnaby and Coquitlam in the Lower Mainland. This project demonstrates a novel approach to ecosystem improvement and management undertaken in immensely altered ecosystems, where prohibitive barriers to traditional conservation and restoration approaches exist.
This case study serves to explore the actions taken in the Green Links Coquitlam Demonstration Site, located within the municipality of Coquitlam, BC. Enhancements of backyard habitats, schoolyards, and a utility right-of-way allowed for the increased connectedness of several environmentally sensitive and natural areas within the municipality. Green Links was undertaken with extensive involvement from the wider community, and successfully served to foster habitat stewardship across the Lower Mainland.
Acknowledgements. We would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Valentin Schaefer for his guidance and insight, which aided us significantly in exploring this case study.