On Dec. 5, 2016, WWF-Canada, in partnership with Concertation Montréal, launched Biopolis, the first digital platform to celebrate urban biodiversity in Montreal. By promoting projects and best practices, and by bringing together and connecting urban biodiversity stakeholders, Biopolis inspires the emergence of initiatives that showcase biodiversity within urban communities.
Biodiversity in Montreal: Rich, remarkable and essential
The Island of Montreal hosts rich and diverse flora and fauna. In fact, 359 bird species and 180 bee species have been observed. Various at-risk species (designated threatened or vulnerable) inhabit the natural areas of the metropolis, of which about 40 are plant species and 20 are animal species. Urban agriculture is also very present in Montreal; it is practiced by 42% of Montrealers — in backyards, on balconies and rooftops, and its activities contribute to supporting biodiversity. For example, the number of pollinator insect species found in Montreal’s community gardens compares to those found in the city’s nature parks. Biopolis will allow us to increase our knowledge about this urban richness and to foster structured and sustainable initiatives to preserve and highlight it.
Montreal is home to a great number of bee species, like this Green Sweat Bee foraging on an Aster. © Marc Sardi
An online platform that connects Montreal’s biodiversity stakeholders
With an online platform available both in French and English, Biopolis showcases innovative projects and the efforts of our Bioneers : the researchers, citizens and project coordinators who lead these inspiring initiatives. The platform also hosts a resource center that brings together documents promoting the latest advances in urban biodiversity. Since Biopolis is a project in constant evolution, its website will naturally grow and change along with the scientific, citizen and institutional communities involved. Biopolis currently features more than 60 projects — such as urban canopy, green roof, education, urban agriculture, and terrestrial and aquatic habitat characterization projects, as well as the profiles of 80 Bioneers. Biopolis can therefore communicate information about stimulating projects while fostering new partnerships and inspiring new initiatives that promote urban biodiversity.
The green roof at the Cercle Carré Housing Cooperative in Old Montreal. © Paul Neudorf
Canadian cities embracing biodiversity
Canadian cities are increasingly aware of nature’s invaluable contribution in terms of ecological services and acknowledge the importance of protecting and sustaining biodiversity within their boundaries. Water filtration and runoff reduction, groundwater preservation, cooling and purification of ambient air, pollination, and improved adaptation to climate change are some of the numerous benefits that cities can take advantage of by increasing their biodiversity. Thus, restoring and preserving our natural heritage in urban areas can promote public health and stimulate local economies. Furthermore, maintaining urban biodiversity allows humans to get closer to nature and to better appreciate the living beings that share their space, and the specific roles that each species plays within urban ecosystems.
Biopolis is a catalyst for efforts that promote biodiversity and nature at the heart of one of the country’s most vibrant and creative cities. The initiative emerged in Montreal, but will soon spread to other major Canadian urban centers. With Biopolis, we show that it is possible to live in harmony with nature and that people are an integral part of the urban ecosystem.
Are you working on a project that benefits biodiversity in your neighborhood? We’d love to hear about it. Submit your project here!
The Brown Snake, a species at risk in Quebec, inhabits fields and urban vacant lots of the Island of Montreal. © Marc Sardi