The field of environmental sustainability addresses the connections between human activity and our world’s natural environment. Ours is a world where it is unfortunately easy to disconnect ourselves from the nature that surrounds us, and so we easily forget that our actions may have very real consequences. Nature is responsible for many of the important support systems upon which our society is built. It supplies the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. It also has immense economic value, particularly in British Columbia, where approximately 40% of regional economies are dependent on harvesting and processing of forest products.
Browse the links and information below to learn about the challenges and strategies for sustainability in Maple Ridge with respect to the environment.
The term ‘greenspace’ refers to areas in an urban environment (city) that are covered by trees, grass, or other vegetation. Greenspaces provide a wealth of benefits to cities like Maple Ridge, including clean air, stormwater management, recreational space, and city beautification. Much of Maple Ridge’s greenspace is managed by our Parks & Facilities Department who develop and maintain the spaces so they may continue to benefit the city and its citizens.
Lawns and Gardens
The front and back yards of your home are very important for the environmental sustainability of Maple Ridge. In addition to parks and wetlands, lawns and gardens represent a major portion of the city’s greenspace, providing many of the same ecological services on a residential scale. For those who do not have access to adequate yard space for gardening, feel free to take advantage of one of Maple Ridge’s community gardens. Using these gardens helps you to get some exercise, fresh air, and to get involved in the community.
While many private waste collection companies are also willing to collect organic waste, people with available yard space might choose to compost kitchen and yard waste in their backyards. Backyard composting is a terrific sustainability strategy that diverts organic waste away from landfills and processing plants and re-purposes them into a useful fertilizer for your lawn and garden. This process has the twofold benefit of saving money on garden fertilizers, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with improper disposal of organic waste.
To get started, you can purchase your composter or solar cone food digester from the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society. While the composter is a standard composting bin used to collect food scraps and yard clippings, the solar cone is a garden unit that uses solar heat and bacteria to reduce food waste to its natural components of water and carbon dioxide. Because more than 90% of its contents are absorbed as water by the surrounding soil, the solar cone does not need emptying on a regular basis. Also unlike a composter, meat, fish, bones and dairy products can be safely put into the solar cone. The same cannot be said of the composter, as meat or dairy products will produce smells that can attract rodents and other wildlife.
Remember that only organic material like food waste and yard clippings can be used for compost, as plastic and metal cannot be broken down by organic processes. If you have recently completed a large clean up of your yard, and find you have produced an abundance of organic waste, The Ridge Meadows Recycling Society offers a brush chipping program in partnership with the City of Maple Ridge. Though the program has specific dates for pick up in the spring and fall, green waste is accepted year round at the Maple Ridge Transfer Station.
Check out these tips from Metro Vancouver and this video to learn the best strategies to turn your organic waste into healthy, usable fertilizer.
Wildlife, Pests, and Pets
Animals, both wild and domesticated, are a part of our city’s environment. This means that they are important for the environmental sustainability of Maple Ridge and that they should have our love and respect.
Invasive species are perhaps one of the greatest threats to environmental sustainability. Without climatic, animal, or pest controls, invasives are able to out-compete native species and proliferate to dominate an ecosystem. Being an unfamiliar organism, invasive species perform few ecological services like providing food or shelter to other individuals in the system. As the climate continues to change it is expected that invasive species will pose an even greater risk to our natural and built habitats, threatening the natural systems that Maple Ridge depends on.
- Find out more about invasive pests and plants in the City of Maple Ridge.
- Invasive species council of Metro Vancouver
- Invasive species council of British Columbia
- BC government invasive species page
Maple Ridge and the Environment
Few movements demonstrate our abuse of natural supply chains quite like Earth Overshoot Day. Earth Overshoot Day represents the day of the year in which our global societies have consumed resources equivalent to the amount regenerated by our planet on an annual basis. This event is one of the simplest metrics that could be used to determine whether or not our species is living sustainably. So long as we are consuming more resources than are produced year after year, we are ‘borrowing’ this planet from future generations and stealing resources that they will require to meet their needs. In 2017, Earth Overshoot Day fell on the second of August, which is the earliest that the date has ever occurred. This tells us that while we might have made strides in using our resources more efficiently, increasing trends in overconsumption and population growth are making it harder as time goes on to maintain the Earth’s productivity and preserve our natural resource systems.
In the City of Maple Ridge, we understand the value of what nature provides to us and recognize the importance of preserving it. This is why we enlisted the help of the community to develop the Environmental Management Strategy. The strategy is intended to help us understand the challenges, identify the options and opportunities, and provide priorities and next steps for environmental protection and management. Protecting the environment however, is not solely the responsibility of the municipal government. Environmental protection requires cooperation at many different levels, including federal, provincial, and residential. If you observe an environmental emergency like destruction of habitat or a hazardous spill, please contact city officials immediately so they can act quickly to help reduce the damage.