Urbanization & Habitat Loss in the Fraser Valley as a Threat to Biodiversity

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We don’t often stop to consider the impact that simply living our human lives has on the other species that once called our neighbourhoods their home. The Fraser Valley, “one of the most important and complex ecosystems in the country” (Thom, p. 171), has been dramatically altered to make a more convenient landscape for housing and farming. In this process, critical habitat has been destroyed and many species that were once abundant have disappeared from our area (Cuthbert p. 24). Urbanization is ongoing and is thought to be the most significant threat to the incredible biodiversity found throughout British Columbia, and particularly the population-dense Lower Mainland (Harding, p. 355). Biodiversity, the “complex web that sustains life on this planet” (Austin, et al., p. 5), is vital for our survival as humans (Cuthbert p. 74). Any loss of biodiversity affects the entire ecosystem and all organisms within it (Fetene et al., p. 52). In the quest to house the ever-expanding human population, we must also consider habitat conservation and seek to preserve the rich biodiversity found in the Fraser Valley that supports and enriches our lives.
Perhaps the most devastating disregard of the Fraser Valley’s biodiversity was the draining of Sumas Lake to create farmland, resulting in the loss of habitat and the extirpation of endemic species. As it was originally intended to be, the Fraser Valley was a “perhaps unparalleled ecosystem” (Rosenau, p. 55), with bountiful wetlands and remarkable biodiversity. The European settlers 150 years ago considered it to be “wasteland” (Thom, p. 172), certainly uninhabitable and a breeding ground for mosquitoes, so the most logical thing to do would be to drain the body of water once known as Sumas Lake...

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