Richmond's Natural History
Natural History of an Island City
Richmond is an island City located in one of North America’s most productive estuaries. The City has distinctive and important habitats that are a result of its place at the mouth of the Fraser River. Historically an intricate complex of wetland and bogs, the remaining natural areas of Richmond still form habitat for a broad range of flora and fauna.
Wildlife and Habitat
In the Water
In the cloudy waters of the Fraser River conceal a diverse and significant aquatic habitat. The inhabitants of our waters include invertebrates, all five species of salmon, the mighty white sturgeon, and large mammals like the harbour seal and California / Steller’s sea lion.
In the Sky
The Fraser River estuary provides essential resting areas for migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway and supports the largest overwintering population of birds in all of Canada. Richmond’s broad open terrain and extensive foreshore make it an ideal hunting ground for numerous species of raptors and wading birds, like the iconic great blue heron.
On the Land
Wetlands, sloughs, bogs and grassland dominate much of the City’s terrestrial habitat. These areas have significant habitat value and are home to plants and animals found nowhere else. Although dramatic human-induced changes have occurred over the recent past, remnants of these habitats provide insights into the intricacy and importance of Richmond's ecological network.
Fish, Habitat and Wildlife Regulations
The majority of wildlife in British Columbia are under the jurisdiction of the Provincial government and governed by the BC Wildlife Act. The Act governs such things as nesting birds, problem wildlife and hunting and trapping. Visit the BC Provincial Ministry of Environment FAQ page for comprehensive answers to wildlife questions.
Development in the city must follow best management practices laid out as part of the Wildlife Act. This pertains to the management of bird nests and habitat for migratory birds and raptors. For more information, see the following provincial documents: [insert bullets]
- Best Management Practices for Raptor Conservation During Urban and Rural Land Development in BC
- Develop with Care: Environmental Guidelines for Urban and Rural Land Development in BC
- Other wildlife management resources
- Co-existing with Coyotes
- BC SPCA Urban Wildlife
- Reporting Human Wildlife Conflicts
- City of Richmond Parks
Fish and Aquatic Habitat
Although the inland watercourses in the City are generally thought of as ditches, they do have a habitat value; primarily in the provision of water to the Fraser River estuary outside the dike. Depending on what type of activity you wish to undertake near water, different provincial and/or federal standards may apply.
Freshwater fish (inland of the dike and in the Fraser River) are under the jurisdiction of the Provincial government and governed by the BC Riparian Areas Protection Act and Regulation .
Richmond is a municipality subject to the requirements of the provincial Riparian Areas Protection Regulation (RAPR) which guides development near most City watercourses (ditches).
Specific information on the City’s requirements and approach can be found in the Riparian Areas Regulation Response Strategy.
If you are modifying a watercourse (ditch) in the City, you may require an approval under the Provincial Water Sustainability Act (formerly the Water Act).
For projects inside the dike, the requirements of the Federal Fisheries Act apply to all open watercourses (including ditches) in the City. This Act also applies to the Fraser River foreshore. If you’re planning a project around water, you need to be aware of your responsibilities. Fisheries and Oceans Canada has a comprehensive resource on this topic called Projects Near Water.