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5. Climate-Positive Resilient Ecosystems

Vision for 2050

In 2050, the City is threaded with protected and restored forests, streams, and wetlands, along with parks, urban trees and rain gardens. These ecosystems provide places for people to enjoy nature, support biodiversity, store carbon, reduce air and water pollution, and improve climate resilience.

Surrey is endowed with many protected areas, open streams, and wetlands, and leading policies that aim to protect them. For example, Surrey’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy commits to protect and restore ecosystems, while the Green Infrastructure Network outlines a plan to protect and connect open spaces and natural areas that provide homes and for wildlife and plants. Surrey’s tree canopy currently covers 29% of the city outside of the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). The Urban Forest Management Strategy has established a target to increase the tree canopy to 30% by 2038, and commits to updating policies, standards and decision-making to reach this target. In the context of Surrey’s growth, this target is significant.

About 30% of Surrey’s land area is farmland, mostly located within the ALR. While farming releases GHG emissions and typically reduces biodiversity compared to native ecosystems, many farmers are committed to sustainable practices that minimize these impacts. For example, “regenerative agriculture” practices seek to protect habitat, store more carbon in soils, and manage manure to capture energy, nutrients and emissions. Farmers are also on the front lines of climate change and suffer damages from flooding, heat waves, and changes in the growing season.

Most agricultural emissions fall outside the scope of the City’s greenhouse gas inventory however, this strategy includes a few general actions addressing opportunities in the agricultural sector.

Healthy ecosystems and green infrastructure can improve resilience to climate-related impacts, support biodiversity and provide the ecosystem services we rely on for health and well-being. This can help to reduce the community’s risk and improve adaptation. The financial benefits of ecosystem services are also well established; for example, preserving streams and wetlands, and building absorbent landscapes that allow rainwater to soak into the ground can reduce the impact of large storm events.

Ecosystems and agricultural lands can pull carbon dioxide from the air and store it in plant materials, soils, and wetlands. These “negative emissions” will be critical to reach the City's net-zero 2050 target and represent an important area for research alongside regenerative agriculture.

We need to build on the City’s policy foundations with more on-the-ground actions to protect Surrey’s natural assets and account for their value in decision-making as climate impacts intensify and as the city continues to grow.

  • The Urban Forest Management Strategy includes a 2038 target of 30% urban forest tree canopy.
  • Other measures and targets for Climate-Positive Resilient Ecosystems will be defined in the future, such as for carbon sequestration by natural areas, estimation of the value of ecosystem services, and parkland acquisition.