Why is conserving biodiversity important? There are many reasons to preserve biodiversity. Some arguments focus on the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems to serve human purposes, such as for recreational use or for sustaining the economy. Others focus on the importance of protecting individual species for their intrinsic value, or to support the holistic integrity of ecosystems. There is another generational argument to be made about preserving biodiversity to ensure a range of ecosystem services, including air purification or climate regulation, can continue into the future. Most people draw from more than one argument when calling for biodiversity conservation.
Biodiversity in BC British Columbia is home to a number of rare or endangered plant and animal species so protecting these is especially important. However, there are other less critically endangered species that are also valuable in maintaining biodiversity in our backyards and local parks. The urban environment of Vancouver has been described as a remarkably productive and biologically diverse area due to the coastal location, topography and mountains (Metro Vancouver, 2008). It contains many diverse ecosystems, including riparian areas, wetlands, intertidal areas and estuaries, alpine areas and forests. Vancouver is also known as the “Greenest City” with over 90% of the population estimated to live within 5 minutes of a green space (e.g. park, beach, wetland, etc.).
Learning objectives In this activity you will focus on biodiversity within your own local environment and reflect on what conserving biodiversity means in this context. The following objectives will be met: • Describe the diversity of species and habitats in the local environment where you live • Select a specific green space in which to explore urban biodiversity in more depth • Assess the status of biodiversity in your selected green space and current measures to protect biodiversity • Develop recommendations outlining the actions that different stakeholders can take to conserve biodiversity in your selected green space • Discuss how you might contribute to preserving local biodiversity through your own stewardship actions
You need to complete all of the following steps.
1. Local biodiversity summary: As an introduction to your project consider the biodiversity that exists in the area where you currently live. Your local environment might encompass your own backyard, neighbourhood, or local parks, forests and recreational areas that you often visit within or outside of the city. Write a summary describing the green spaces within your local area and outlining the diversity of species (plants and animals), habitats or ecosystems that can be found here. (~300 words)
GEOG 101 Environmental Geography (Fall 2020)
2. Green space biodiversity assessment: Select one of the green spaces that you have identified and undertake research to find out more about the biodiversity that exists within this environment. In your biodiversity assessment you should: • Describe the green space and some of the key plant/ animal species that inhabit it • Discuss the key pressures and threats to biodiversity in relation to this space • Offer an assessment of whether this green space is thriving, stable or in decline You should be able to find some information online but might also consider a fieldtrip to your selected location to make firsthand observations on biodiversity in this environment. Consider enhancing your project by including a map of your location and some photographs or images to illustrate biodiversity within it. If you do decide to visit your green space remember to do so safely and practice social distancing! (~400-500 words).
3. Biodiversity management review and recommendations: Review any materials that are available to evaluate the current status of biodiversity management in your selected green space. In your review, consider the specific roles that different stakeholders (e.g. government agencies, city parks managers, conservation organizations, Indigenous peoples or citizen groups) currently play in protecting biodiversity. Write an evaluation of the current management approach and offer your own recommendations for what could be done to improve conservation efforts in this green space in the future and who should be responsible for taking these actions. In your evaluation reflect on how you would balance conflicting pressures on green space, such as the need to maintain ecological integrity while ensuring people have access to natural areas for cultural, recreational, social, aesthetic or health reasons. (~400-500 words)
4. Final reflections: Describe any environmental stewardship actions that you might personally take to help protect biodiversity in your local community. (~100 words)
Resources and Referencing Below are some general resources on biodiversity in our local environment. You are also required to find other information sources about biodiversity related to your own specific communities and the green space you have selected as your case study. Before selecting a specific green space for your assignment, it is a good idea to check what kinds of resources are available to help you assess the ecological characteristics of this setting. Remember, when using any of these sources you should include citations for any quotations, ideas, and information that you use. Use APA style citation format, including short in-text citation (author, date) and a full reference list at the end of the document.
Metro Vancouver (2008) Strategic Directions for Biodiversity Conservation in Metro Vancouver, accessed 8 October 2020 at: http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/regionalpla…
City of Surrey (2014) Biodiversity Conservation Strategy: https://www.surrey.ca/sites/default/files/media/do…
Vancouver Parks and Recreation (2016) Biodiversity Strategy, accessed 8 October 2020 at: https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/biodiversity-strate…
GEOG 101 Environmental Geography (Fall 2020)
Grading The assignment will be marked out of 20 points. Marks will be awarded for completing all the steps, for depth of insight, and for demonstrating that you have undertaken adequate research to find out more information on biodiversity in your local environment and its management. Adding additional elements, such as a map and relevant images will count towards your mark. Submissions without citations or a reference list will lose marks. Marks will also be deducted for poorly presented work and for careless mistakes so please proofread and edit carefully before submission. A more detailed grading rubric for each project step is provided below.
Activity component Points Biodiversity summary concisely and accurately describes the types of species, habitats and ecosystems that are found within the local geographical area 4 Identifies an appropriate green space and undertakes detailed research to provide a comprehensive assessment of biodiversity in this area. 3 Interprets the available information to provide an accurate assessment of the pressures/ threats to biodiversity in this setting and its current status. 3 Presentation of project work is well designed and incorporates maps, photographs or images to illustrate the geographic setting and biodiversity found within it. Relevance of any images is clearly explained in text and/or with the use of titles/ captions. 3 Shows an appreciation of current efforts to manage biodiversity in a specific setting and identifies the diverse stakeholders that are involved in conservation. 3 Recommendations for improved conservation efforts are insightful and address the need for balancing ecological considerations with other factors 2 Demonstrates thoughtful consideration of personal actions that can enhance environmental stewardship. 2
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