While small-scale biodiversity projects are important, there’s no question that when it comes to nature, size matters: larger spaces allow for a greater diversity of plants that in turn support a greater diversity and number of species. They also provide critical ecological services, such as cleaning the air, managing stormwater, and mitigating urban heat—all of which only become more important as climate change increases environmental stress.
Cities use different policy and planning levers to protect sensitive urban ecosystems or important habitat links, often designating them as Environmentally Sensitive/Significant Areas. For example, Toronto expanded its ESA’s by 68 areas, Montreal instituted an Ecosystem Management Program for its large parks, and Fredericton released two new large park management plans.
However, with 19% of cities reporting citywide biodiversity strategies in place, and a further 52% who have biodiversity objectives embedded in other environmental plans, there’s a need for more holistic citywide planning that examines key species, develops education and stewardship plans, and identifies habitat corridors.