RESILIENT WATER LANDSCAPES
Wetland Parks and Stormwater Sponges :
Tackling Climate Change at Edge Communities
Risk mitigation is a critical component of environmental design and planning for Canada’s communities; green infrastructure provides a multifaceted approach to addressing these impacts. Strategic water management and design includes ‘soft’ green infrastructure such as wetlands, bioswales, sponge parks, and eco-engineering as well as ‘hard’ infrastructure such as sewers, sea walls, concrete facing, and others. These traditional ‘hard’ approaches are economically supported. But new engineering technologies and science have given communities alternatives which demonstrate not only ecological resilience but the added benefit of including amenities such as green spaces, multi-use public spaces, and biodiversity habitat. It is this approach environmental planning and design which promotes not only ecological resilience but community benefits as well.
The GIPL facilitates knowledge-sharing across sectors, institutions and disciplines to identify design and management strategies for reducing the consequences of climate change and sea level rise.
The ecosystem services provided by wetlands, specifically Canada's three primary high-performing wetland types: bogs, fens, and peatlands, are many and diverse and include food, fibre, clean water, carbon sink, nutrient stores, flood and storm control, groundwater recharge and discharge, pollution control, organic matter (sediment) discharge, routes for plant and animal migration, and landscape and water connectivity.
Canada has the largest area of peatlands in the world, encompassing 12% of the land area or 1.1 million km2. These wetland bogs are essential to the global environment. With new socio-political threats to Brazil’s rainforests, ⅓ of the worlds or 1.7 million km2, Canada’s wetland bogs are a priority for research and ecosystem service performance.
Wetland Bog near Manitoba
Instead of being released in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon is stored in the peatland. This is why the world’s peatlands are the most important terrestrial carbon stores; they contain about 30 per cent of the global soil carbon and are important regulators of climate change.
Carbon sequestration within Canada’s wetland bogs is a globally significant ecosystem service and has economic as well as recreational, educational, and ecotourism opportunities. Known peatlands only cover about 3 percent of the world’s land surface, but store at least twice as much carbon as all of Earth’s standing forests
Wetland bogs are one of the most productive ecosystems on the earth. A quarter of the world's wetlands are found within Canada's boreal forest and cover a total area of 1.19 million square kilometres. More than third of the world’s peatlands are in Canada, and they cover about 14 per cent of Canada’s territory.
In September 2018, the Global Wetland Outlook Report by the Ramsar Convention, wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests. Unabated, this trend will have severe consequences for the world warns the report. Approximately 35 per cent of the world’s wetlands were lost between 1970-2015 with annual rates of loss accelerating from 2000.
What are the current and future urbanisation-based or anthropogenic impacts affecting wetland bogs and boreal forest of Canada? These threatened resources are important in maintaining Canada’s ecosystem services - draining, filling, flooding, mining/extraction, burning, and other influences at multiple scales require a proactive approach to design. This approach thus requires knowledge and awareness to enable effective design interventions and raise the profile of landscape architects and ecological designers.
Maintaining resilience of wet landscapes and their interconnected hydrological systems in face of urbanisation pressures is a key component the GIPL's applied design research.
GIPL's research provides a better understanding of how human activities affect wetland bogs, coastal edges, and the interrelated eco-hydrology and green infrastructure in order to minimise future impacts - and maintain human and ecological health while serving critical ecosystem services to Canada and the world.
@ AHBE Lab