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Biodiversity Strategies


What is it?

Biodiversity Strategies set out the strategic direction that will guide the protection and management of biodiversity in a municipality. These strategies generally set context by defining biodiversity and its benefits, identifying current pressures, describing the policy context, and describing actions the municipality is already taking. This information sets the stage for objectives, targets, priority actions, partnerships, and metrics of evaluation to be identified in the Biodiversity Strategy.

Many municipalities across Canada, such as Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver, have developed biodiversity strategies to confirm their commitment to maintaining biodiversity and to provide a foundation that unites their efforts across programs.

How can municipalities use it?

Municipalities can develop a Biodiversity Strategy to provide more detailed goals and directions that are set out in higher order plans such as the Municipal Development Plan. Biodiversity strategies can be used to bring overarching principles to all aspects of municipal planning and management, and give municipal staff the authority to include biodiversity and conservation actions in their programs. Biodiversity Strategies inform and align with management bylaws (e.g., tree protection bylaw), plans (e.g., area structure plans), strategies (e.g., riparian strategies), and policies (e.g., wetland policies).

What are the advantages?

Biodiversity strategies offer the following advantages:

  • Strengthen a municipality’s commitment to protecting biodiversity by outlining pressures and responses the municipality will take

  • Guides how planning and management across the municipality will consider biodiversity

  • Engages and educates community members regarding biodiversity

  • Allows for higher level themes to be articulated (like connectivity, riparian management, wetlands)

  • Promotes partnership and collaboration across sectors (both inside and outside of government) to reach biodiversity goals

What should you watch out for?

No tool is a silver bullet. Issues for municipalities to watch out for with Biodiversity Strategies include:

  • Does not prescribe implementation actions, so need clear sense of how it will support implementation and action

  • Requires buy in from community and municipal staff

  • Must align with higher and lower order plans for successful implementation

  • Requires distinct metrics to measure the success of the strategy

How can it help maintain natural infrastructure?

Natural infrastructure within a municipality is what maintains biodiversity; therefore a strategy to maintain biodiversity will contribute significantly to maintaining the natural infrastructure assets in the community (e.g., wetlands, open spaces, riparian areas, waterways, trees, etc.). Biodiversity strategies can integrate municipal actions that protect, maintain and enhance a healthy and connected natural infrastructure system – assets, functions, and benefits.


biodiverCities: A Handbook for Municipal Biodiversity Planning and Management – A handbook created by ICLEI to motivate change through the development of a Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) using a “Milestone”-based framework. This Handbook provides case studies and other resources to help communities achieve their biodiversity goals and objectives.

City of Calgary – Our BiodiverCity: Calgary’s 10-year Biodiversity Strategic Plan – Calgary's biodiversity strategy is based on the principles of protection, development and management of Calgary parks and ecosystems in support of  biodiversity, and aims to provide a framework for City staff to foster more resilient, biologically-diverse open space and neighbourhoods.

City of Edmonton – Natural Connections Strategic Plan – This is Edmonton's plan for the protection, management and restoration of local natural areas and biodiversity, and for the engagement of the community in that effort. The strategic plan includes guiding principles, goals, system outcomes, strategic directions, and strategies.

ICLEI Canada - Local Governments for Sustainability - ICLEI Canada works with a wide-variety of stakeholders from across government, industry, academia and the NGO community to build more sustainable, low-carbon, energy efficient, climate-ready communities. One of their three national programs is focused on biodiversity.

Biodiversity Conservation Strategy, Surrey, BC – Developed in 2014, this strategy aims to preserve biodiversity in the City of Surrey, recognizing biodiversity as a key foundation of a health, livable and sustainable community.

Green Bylaws Toolkit: for conserving sensitive ecosystems and green infrastructure – This document is an important resource for understanding how municipalities can safeguard the environment, from a regional to a site level. It clearly explains each tool, and provides case studies and examples of bylaws that are in use in British Columbia. This document includes a section on ‘Regional Conservation Strategies,’ which focus on conserving biodiversity at the regional level.

Subsidiarity In Action: Effective Biodiversity Conservation And Municipal Innovation – This Alberta Land Institute report examines the important contribution that municipalities can make to biodiversity conservation.

Did we miss something?

If you know of a resource that should be on this list - or your municipality has a sample or case that should be here, please let us know!

Thanks for helping us out!

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