© Marc Sardi / WWF-Canada lavender growing in an urban garden

BIOPOLIS PROJECTS

Explore Biopolis projects and discover how citizens, researchers, institutions, businesses and community organizations are supporting biodiversity in cities across Canada.

Biodiversity Projects in Canadian Cities

The projects listed on Biopolis are diverse and a source of inspiration for all. They were selected according to their objectives to enhance and preserve urban biodiversity in cities across Canada. Explore our featured projects to discover how citizens, researchers, institutions, businesses and community organizations are working to support urban biodiversity.

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    Forage Fish Spawning Monitoring in the Salish Sea

    Forage Fish Spawning Monitoring in the Salish Sea

    The Forage Fish Spawning Habitat Monitoring project, initiated in 2017, aims to identify the location of existing forage fish spawning habitat along the coastline of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. The project’s primary goal is to help reduce the knowledge gap regarding where and when forage fish species are spawning by collecting and analyzing sediment samples for forage fish embryos. Due to the coastline of Vancouver Island being heavily developed, the bulk of the sample locations are located within the town/city limits of multiple coastal communities, including Qualicum Beach, Parksville, Lantzville, Nanaimo, Ladysmith, and Maple Bay. The project focuses on two species of forage fish, Pacific sand lance and surf smelt, as they each hold significant ecological, cultural, and economic value in the region. A loss in these species could result in a significant loss to our local biodiversity.

    MABRRI also trains citizen scientists to take part in the project in order to simultaneously cover a greater geographic extent. Currently, we have seven groups of volunteers that span the Vancouver Island coastline from Cowichan Bay north to Qualicum Beach, as well as two groups that sample sites on Gabriola Island and Thetis Island. With further funding, we intend to continue expanding this program to include more citizen science groups and continue to cover a greater geographical extent. All of the data that is collected is submitted to the Strait of Georgia Data Centre, an open-access data base owned by the Pacific Salmon Foundation. Ultimately, MABRRI will work with our partners to analyze the data in order to generate and propose updated management and policy with regard to habitat protection and conservation.

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    Plant Diversity of Montreal Riparian Swamps

    Plant Diversity of Montreal Riparian Swamps

    Impacts of urbanization on plant diversity of riparian swamps – IRBV – Université de Montréal

    Urbanization poses a major threat to biodiversity by contributing to the homogenization of plant communities. This threat is even greater among plant communities that inhabit riparian habitats, where they are consistently disturbed by human activities and water level management practices. Channelling of runoff towards artificial drainage networks also poses an important threat to the natural evolution of these habitats that depend on the presence of water.

    The objectives of this project were to determine the influential processes by which floristic composition (species and functional traits) of riparian swamps is driven, to assess whether urbanization leads to the biotic homogenization of the habitat’s flora, and to evaluate the role that exotic species play within this phenomenon. For the purpose of this study, a total of 57 riparian forest patches were sampled in the greater Montreal area, of which about 15 are found within the city’s boundaries.

    This study demonstrated that riparian swamp flora is mostly influenced by environmental factors, especially by flooding intensity. Urbanization was found to have an indirect impact on the studied habitats by altering waterway hydrology, thus reducing flooding susceptibility. Urbanization also induced taxonomical and functional differentiation of flora, which means that an increase in diversity was observed among plant communities. This differentiation can be explained by the drainage of the most urbanized swamp patches, which led to the establishment of terrestrial species.

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    Community Garden BP Tétreaulville

    Community Garden BP Tétreaulville

    The garden has 60 plots, as well as a space for wild herbs, trees, shrubs and flowers for pollinators. Members are informed about biodiversity through workshops and take part in the Montreal Space for life My Garden program.

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    Wildlife tree conservation in nature parks

    Wildlife tree conservation in nature parks

    At the heart of the nature parks’ landscapes, one can observe the presence of dead or declining trees as well as tree trunks, tree stumps, and stacks of branches. Visitors might be surprised by the sight of these structures, but several animal species depend on woody debris and snag trees, which we call wildlife trees, that provide food, perches, shelters, and nesting sites.

     

    The City conserves as wildlife trees some naturally declining or dead trees, by leaving in place parts of their main branches, while ensuring safety. A variety of tree species, of different sizes, diameters, and declining stages, is conserved to create micro-habitats and enhance biodiversity. Woody debris can be generated naturally by falling trees or be derived from arboricultural work carried out for security reasons near park trails and other areas commonly used by the public like picnic areas.

     

    Wildlife trees and woody debris can be used by animals for several decades before returning to the ground in the form of organic matter. In fact, birds nesting in wildlife tree cavities account for one fifth of all nesting birds in nature parks, which represents about twenty species including the wood duck as well as various woodpeckers and birds of prey. Mammals such as squirrels, voles, and raccoons also use wildlife trees. Several insects, as well as amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals use woody debris at one point or another during their life cycle.

     

    Live trees, snag trees and woody debris, all have important and complementary roles to play in the protection of forest biodiversity. This initiative is related to Montréal’s Ecosystem Management Program

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    Bird nesting boxes and winter feeders in large parks

    Bird nesting boxes and winter feeders in large parks

    In large parks, especially in nature parks, the City of Montréal works to create favourable conditions for wildlife and encourage environmental education. Several dozens of bird nesting boxes have been installed close to park trails and, in winter, bird feeders are placed near the park’s reception chalet. Nesting boxes contribute to the arrival of species that do not find sufficient cavities to meet their needs in the surrounding areas. Feeders provide an additional food source during the winter season. Above all, nesting boxes and feeders are excellent tools to introduce people of all ages to birdwatching and foster appreciation of our close link with nature.

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    3×3 OUT!

    3×3 OUT!

    Although ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) is a native plant, it is highly invasive. Indeed, ragweed is being found all over Southern Quebec while one hundred and fifty years ago, it occupied only a small part of it.

    The Champ des Possibles (including Bernard lot) ended up with a huge infestation of ragweed in 2016 despite having Les Amis du Champ des Possibles expend major efforts in planting competing species over the years in addition to proceeding with localized annual mowings or weedings, measures usually considered sufficient to control ragweed.

    This infestation was jeopardizing the possibility of conserving the pastoral aspect of the field as well as its mission of supporting biodiversity. In fact, ragweed is responsible for severe allergies and asthma problems. Since young children from an outdoor day care center frequent this place daily, it would have been irresponsible to let them breathe in so much pollen. In addition, ragweed showing allelopathic behavior, its presence affects the establishment of other plants.

    Rather than responding to the need to remove pollen from the air by a fieldwide mowing, Irene Mayer proposed a pilot project to test her method of selective weeding in order to reconcile public health protection with the support of biodiversity.

    The project aims to demonstrate that ragweed can be successfully eradicated in a field-like urban park while returning to conditions that support biodiversity. The 3×3 OUT! protocol (3 selective weedings, 3 successive summers and autumns) was conceived after years of experimentation in Montreal’s streets and alleyways.

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    The green roof of the Regroupement de Lachine

    The green roof of the Regroupement de Lachine

    Opened in 2013 and enhanced in 2018, the 500 m2 structure is one of the biggest publicly accessible green roofs in Montreal. It’s the most striking part of the Regroupement de Lachine’s ecological building.

    The roof has different sections with distinct functions, and is a showcase for greening opportunities on a commercial rooftop.

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    Ville de Montréal (Large Parks, Greening, and Mount Royal Department)

    Ville de Montréal (Large Parks, Greening, and Mount Royal Department)

    Two wildlife observation sites have been redeveloped using a new and improved design concept in Montréal’s nature parks network : Observatoire Havre aux tortues in Cap-Saint-Jacques nature park, and Observatoire du marais in Pointe-aux-Prairies nature park. These structures have been adjusted to simultaneously address wildlife protection imperatives and people’s desire to observe wildlife. A wall with openings disposed at varying heights allows all visitors to view and enjoy the natural landscape without disturbing the animals. Materials consistent with sustainable development principles were selected for the construction of these structures.

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    ICI on verdit!

    ICI on verdit!

    GRAME works to promote sustainable development and environmental protection by taking into account long term and global issues, such as climate change. “ICI on verdit!” is a project that started in 2015, which invites institutions, businesses and industries located in the South West area of the Island of Montreal to plant trees. The plantations are primarily located in Lachine, Dorval, Lasalle, Baie-D’Urfé and Saint-Laurent.

    This project is part of the Plan d’Action Canopée (Canopy Action Plan) , which aims to increase the canopy in Montreal by 5% by 2025. Our plantations aim to diversify species while taking into account those already present in the field.

    Since 2015, the project has led to the plantation of more than 2100 trees and 435 shrubs and the mobilization of over 1600 people.

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    Ecosystem Management Program in Montréal’s large parks

    Ecosystem Management Program in Montréal’s large parks

    The Ecosystem Management Program provides for knowledge acquisition on ecosystems, ecological evaluation, monitoring of components of interest, as well as field interventions aiming to protect and enhance biological diversity in Montréal’s large parks. Ecosystem management maintains a balance between public access and protection of large parks’ ecological integrity. The Program supports informed decision-making when projects and activities are undertaken, in an effort to protect and minimize impacts on natural habitats and to ensure that their ecological value or integrity are not compromised. The Program has been implemented by the City for over twenty years.

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    Restoration of the Molson Marsh

    Restoration of the Molson Marsh

    In 2015, the Comité de surveillance Louis-Riel (CSLR) initiated landscaping and restoration activities of the Molson Marsh in order to render it more accessible for the public to enjoy this unique urban habitat. The Molson Marsh is located in Boisé-Jean-Milot Park, at the corner of Langelier Boulevard and Bélanger Street, in the borough of Mercier – Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. Within the framework of the project, the main path was restored and a 20 meter long boardwalk was constructed. Nine interpretation signs were also installed in order to inform visitors of the responsible ways to enjoy nature and of the elements of biodiversity that are present on site. Over the next few years, the CSLR wishes to pursue actions to preserve and restore the Molson Marsh.

    Boisé-Jean-Milot Park boasts a distinctive topography that includes a steep slope at the foot of which an ancient stream bed lies and where the marsh is located. This wetland plays an important role for the park’s biodiversity. Recently discovered, this water feature was concealed by a dense colony of Common Reed, which was invading the site in question. Measures to eradicate Common Reed have been deployed within the framework of this project in order to allow water to once again fill the marsh.

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    Un Jardin pour tous

    Un Jardin pour tous

    The project Un jardin pour tous was initiated on November 26th 2014, within the framework of a citizen workshop in which more than 30 Rosemont residents took part. At the end of this workshop, participating citizens established the project’s guidelines, such as layout and programming of the space in question. Collectively, citizens were able to imagine an edible landscape on the grounds of the Rosemont Library.

    The project took the shape of a low maintenance food production garden, with angles on permaculture and nature observation, that respects natural cycles and that aspires self sufficiency.

    From the very beginning, citizens partaking in the project wished to learn about gardening as a group and inspired each other with their respective talents, desires and dreams. Participating citizens get together regularly on site to garden, and those who wish to join in are welcome to do so throughout the season. With no barriers or fences, anyone can stop by and harvest fresh produce, as long as it is done in way that respects the principles of sharing and collective living. On site gatherings include picnics, workshops, or events involving local community organizations, and contribute to enliven the garden.

    In 2016, new parcels were opened and wilder spaces with wildflower prairies were established in order to create habitat for bees and other pollinators.

    The collective of the Un jardin pour tous project comprises of citizens who are also members of the Green Committee of the Démarche Décider Rosemont ensemble. The project is supported by various organizations and institutions such as Éco-quartier Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie (SODER), the CDC de Rosemont and the borough of Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie.

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