Sustainability at RRU and the Importance of Wetland Restoration!

This week during my sustainable development series class at Royal Roads University, we had a few guest speakers give us talks about the sustainability efforts on my campus. I have to admit, the efforts taken to achieve a sustainable campus environment have made me very proud to be a student of Royal Roads. From their extensive recycling and composting programs to their toxin-free microfiber cleaning methods, they have consciously considered nearly every angle, making the university healthier and safer for staff, students, the surrounding ecosystems, and the planet. The university also makes education on these issues a top priority, placing itself as a role model for other individuals and organizations. As I sat there, listening to all of these smart sounding plans and actions, they seemed simple and relatively low- effort. I truly believe that organizations like RRU, who are not only making solid plans for meaningful sustainable development, but putting these plans into action, should make their job as a role model top priority, so that other organizations can follow in their example. In this way, sustainable development could spread exponentially.

Transportation emissions remain as the major issue, but efforts are being made to implement a solution. A class discussion took place around potential plans of action, including incentives for carpoolers and bikers, doubling parking pass fees, and UPASS implementation with increased bus service. Coming from a previous university that adopted the UPASS in my second year, I have seen the significant impact that it made on the amount of drivers. Every year previous, a parking pass lottery was held to determine who would have the privilege of paying $300 + for a limited number of parking spaces. The year the UPASS was implemented, a surplus of parking spaces remained unsold throughout the entire year. I believe that UPASS implementation, along with a doubling of parking fees would GREATLY increase the amount of students who choose public transit over driving.

The project that struck my interest the most was the campus wetland restoration project, which is still in its planning stages. I hadn’t realized the importance of these diverse ecosystems until I did a bit of research upon hearing about the project. It seems that the historically, this value was also overlook, as development and “progress” gave weigh to huge losses of these areas.

Wetlands are essential life support systems for both wild animals and humans. These areas play a critical role in the cycling and decontamination of water, water storage, and habitat for fish, waterfowl, mammals and other organisms. Wetlands release water vapor, which helps to control the microclimates of certain regions and provides buffering capacity during extreme weather conditions.  They also act in carbon sequestration, helping to mitigate climate change. The water storage, drainage, and decontamination roles of wetlands saves us huge amounts of money in infrastructure costs, which must be developed when wetlands are lost .

image source: bragi0.com

Evidence has linked the loss of wetlands to drastic declines in fish and waterfowl populations, flooding, decreased ground and surface water stores, water pollution, and enormous loss in biodiversity. Our lives economies, and communities depend on these vital components of the water cycle.

The Royal Roads wetland restoration project aims to restore a roughly 10 acre portion of land which was drained for the purposes of pastureland nearly 100 years ago by the Dunsmir family. It would take over 300 years for this area to restore itself without intervention.  This restoration involves recovery of buried streams, and lost aquatic species, restoration of marsh areas and two types of   old growth forest, development of three small creeks, boardwalks, blinds, trails, and interpretative materials. The site will serve as an educational and research hub for Royal Roads and U Vic, with research plans for the role of wetlands in carbon sequestration already under weigh. This area will not only serve as an important ecological and educational tool, but will also be important for infrastructure purposes and will serve as an “eco-destination” for the west shore communities.

Click here to learn more about the Royal Roads wetland restoration http://sustainability.royalroads.ca/wetland-ecosystem-restoration-rru

Wetland areas are extremely important components of out natural capital, and need to be protected and conserved for future generations.

Please follow this link to learn more about local wetland protection in BC!     http://bcwetlands.ca/

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