Biofilm, jet-fuel spills and the Garden City Lands

Vancouver Sun article about biofilm (illustrated above) begins like this:

The “magic” in the mud was first uncovered just south of Vancouver, where half the world’s western sandpipers touch down to refuel as they migrate south. Now the gooey, paper thin biofilm has also been found to be a key bird food on the other side of the Pacific. . . .

One aspect of this is that it is hard to know how jet-fuel spills will affect biofilm if the proposed dock for transferring fuel from ships goes ahead at the proposed site near Riverport. It is not enough to say that a lot of biofilm will still be left over, because the biofilm that has been poisoned may be particularly suited to particular shorebirds.

In any case, the biofilm news is a reminder of the importance of conserving the surface of the land too, and that applies to the Garden City Lands.Thanks to people who know much more than I do on this topic, I’ve come to realize the importance of taking great care before disturbing the surface. A good example is the southwest corner, which is not suited to restoration as sphagnum bog or as food-growing land. However, Michael Wolfe’s conservation biology observations show it is one of the most environmentally sensitive areas. It is great for bird nesting in the spring and for native bees from spring to the end of summer.

There have been suggestions to just use that southwest corner (bottom left corner in the PARC concept map) as a parking lot. Or to bring in huge quantities of topsoil to cover it for farming. Or to somehow drain and fill it for soccer fields (even though there are unused soccer fields throughout Richmond that could be used far more easily). Fortunately, like the biologists who identified the value of biofilm on the wet mud near Richmond, another biologist identified the ecological value of that muddy southwest corner of the Garden City lands. Like the biofilm, the habitat for nesting birds and native bees has new importance.

Read other articles on this blog on this topic. Also visit the VAPOR website.


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