Building Salmon-Safe Spaces Across Our Communities

April 01, 2020
Salmon-Safe Standards from the Fraser Basin Council

Written by Teghan Acres

Andrea McDonald embodies her love for outdoor spaces in all that she does. From an Undergraduate Degree in Environmental Science at UBC to teaching outdoor education programs and now a Masters Degree in Resource Environmental Management at SFU, her connection to nature is threaded throughout her life. She spent a semester studying natural resource management in Haida Gwaii that stoked her interest in environmental social science topics such as Indigenous governance and justice. McDonald also co-created a citizens science project for the Stanley Park Ecology Society as her Undergraduate capstone study.

She was then able to combine her education with a love for teaching young children to build an outdoor education field trip program with the UBC Malcolm Knapp Research Forest (MKRF) in Maple Ridge. This project was born out of the acknowledged need for affordable opportunities to bring children to nature. McDonald explains that “connection to natural spaces is a privilege, especially in urban centres where kids don't have access to the outdoor space in their backyard anymore. The financial requirement to go hiking and camping is out of reach for many families.” When the program began they were welcoming a school group each month and now it has grown to where a group is visiting every day

McDonald is now at SFU to focus on policy development and implementation. She wants to close the gap between science and politics with the goal of protecting our environment. Her work with the PWRC is a new endeavour in partnership with the Fraser Basin Council (FBC). The FBC is a charitable non-profit organization that brings people together to advance sustainability in the Fraser River Basin and throughout BC. Their work focuses on healthy water and watersheds, action on climate change and air quality and strong, resilient communities and regions.

Salmon-Safe BC, a service by FBC, is a third-party eco-certification program that recognizes land management practices that enhance and protect Pacific salmon habitat and water quality. Three buildings currently hold this certification, which are the Mountain Equipment Co-op head office and flagship store and Vancouver International Airport. They also certify agricultural land and have 45 farms and ranches certified by the program.

McDonald’s research is looking at the existing policy regarding salmon habitat and urban development to see how the Salmon-Safe BC program can fit into current guidelines. She is going to uncover what policy recommendations could take advantage of the present political space to promote the utilization of the Salmon-Safe program. There is the possibility in the future for this research to lead to partnerships between municipalities and the FBC to support green infrastructure development that protects salmon habitat. Green infrastructure deployment faces barriers in municipalities and the Salmon-Safe standards could help support implementation.

This work is built upon the three key functions of the PWRC: research coalition building, resource mobilization, and bridging science and policy. The PWRC doesn’t let our research go unutilized. We plan for local and global benefits from the beginning to ensure our projects see tangible improvements for water, wildlife and people. Follow along for updates on this project and more at our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you’re interested in learning more or getting involved with the Fraser Basin Council, visit their website and explore the programs and services they have to offer. 

We respectfully acknowledge that the PWRC operates on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.