News + Events

We aim to share what we learn on campus through meaningful engagement activities with partners across our region, and with universities around the world. To learn more, see a detailed description of our upcoming events below. You can also sign up for UBC Sustainability’s Newsletter, or see our list of other newsletters at UBC, and explore the world of environmentally focused initiatives here at UBC.

  • Biodiversity Days 2024: Bird Walk Recap 

    Biodiversity Days 2024: Bird Walk Recap 

    Did you miss our Biodiversity Days Bird Walk event on May 5th? No worries! My name is Christine, and I’m the student Urban Biodiversity Coordinator with UBC SEEDS Sustainability. I’m here to share a recap of the walk and what we learned from expert birders Bev and Bill Ramey.  

    The Bird Walk was hosted as part of our month-long Biodiversity Days event, an annual series that aims to celebrate and uplift biodiversity. During this walk, we brought together community participants to learn about the diversity of birds at the UBC Botanical Garden and try their hand at birding.  

    On the morning of the 5th, we met in front of the garden to kick off the walk. Already, we were greeted with a sampling of the birds that are often seen in the Garden – including an American Robin (Turdus migratorius) and multiple Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). The Botanical Garden is home to many resident bird species, which are species that live in the Garden year-round (including bald eagles and their nests!). UBC is also located along a migratory bird path, meaning that we see an increased diversity of bird species during the spring and fall. Check out this bird biodiversity brochure to learn about the birds that are most commonly spotted in the Garden. 

    After a stroll through the garden, stopping to listen to and identify various bird species, we stopped by the Garden Pavillion. The windows of the Garden Pavillion feature whimsical designs of birds, plants, and more – which have the added benefit of helping to prevent bird window crashes because the design makes the window more visible to birds, and less reflective of greenery. Here, I discussed with participants about how they could make their own windows at home more bird friendly – for example, by using bird friendly window stickers, or by drawing on windows with oil-based paint markers.   

    Explaining bird-friendly actions to participants at the Garden Pavilion

    As we continued through the garden, we were treated to close-up views of birds through the scope that was brought by Bev and Bill. This scope allowed us to see birds in high definition from a distance – including an Anna’s hummingbird (Calypte anna) and a Rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus).  

    Bill Ramey setting up the scope
    Bev Ramey showing us the bushtit nest

    Bev and Bill also brought along an old bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus) nest. These tiny birds build sock-like nests out of lichen and spiderwebs, ensuring that they are strong and stretchy because they stretch as the eggs are laid inside and the chicks hatch and grow larger. These nests only last for one breeding season. There is a breeding pair in the Garden right now – look out for their nest near the Cactus House next time you visit.  

    Bev and Bill also introduced the Merlin Bird ID app to the group. Merlin Bird ID is a smartphone app developed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. It can suggest identifications for birds based on their song or based on a photo. It is free to use, and we highly recommend any interested birders to check it out here.  

    Bill showing the group how Merlin Bird ID can record bird calls and identify birds

    There are still more biodiversity-themed events planned for the rest of the month, as part of Biodiversity Days. Check them out here

    In addition, Friday, May 10th to Sunday, May 26th marks the Greater Vancouver Bird Celebration, where you can find additional bird conservation events for both beginner and advanced birders.  

    We hope to see you at our next event! 

  • Biodiversity Connects Us: A Student-Led Research Showcase 2024 

    Biodiversity Connects Us: A Student-Led Research Showcase 2024 

    Are you curious about how biodiversity connects us all? Every year, SEEDS Sustainability and the UBC Botanical Garden collaborate on a showcase that highlights UBC student research as a part of Biodiversity Days, a month-long event to celebrate and uplift biodiversity. This event brings together UBC students, faculty, staff, and decision-makers to learn about biodiversity at UBC and how student research can be translated into action on campus. As the student Urban Biodiversity Coordinator with SEEDS, I was lucky to be a part of setting up this event and witness the 2024 Student-Led Research Showcase.  

    This year, we invited three amazing student projects to present at the showcase. 

    > Supporting UBC Foodscapes during Extreme Weather Events

    By: Kat Seow, Hannah Tahami, Liliana Henriksson, and Farbod Alirezaee, in collaboration with the UBC Botanical Garden and the University Neighbourhoods Association. 

    Community gardens are an important part of the UBC foodscape that fosters urban biodiversity and provides a place for people to come together in a shared space. As climate change brings extreme weather, it is important to understand how it might impact our community gardens.

    This project aimed to understand the climate resilience of community gardens during extreme weather events. The students collected microclimate data (moisture, soil pH, wind speed), conducted field observations, and interviewed community gardeners at four community gardens across campus. They found that no gardens experienced flooding, and all the gardens experienced heat domes. In particular, one garden (Roots on the Roof) experienced high winds, and three of the four gardens experienced cold snaps. Based on these results, they made a toolkit for community gardeners with advice on managing these extreme weather events. They also provided recommendations for future research into climate-resilient gardens and microclimates, and recommended supporting gardeners through workshops and their toolkit. 

    > Rain down the drain: UBC Vancouver green rainwater infrastructure performance monitoring and future weather event modelling

    By: Nahaz Ferdous, Jennie Zhou, Susan Huang, and Liyuan Wang, in collaboration with Campus + Community Planning and the SEEDS Sustainability Program

    With climate change, Vancouver is at risk of larger rain events and flooding. Rain gardens are one strategy for capturing water that might otherwise slide off non-permeable surfaces (like concrete sidewalks) and potentially overwhelm the drainage system.  

    This group researched the current and projected future effectiveness of the UBC Campus Energy Centre (CEC) rain gardens. They found that the rain gardens were effective at absorbing the majority of water during rain events. Going two, 10, and 100 years into the future, their modelling showed the rain gardens would continue to be effective for storm lengths of up to 12 hours. To maintain rain gardens and ensure that they continue to be effective, this group recommends clearing debris to prevent clogging, prioritizing adaptive vegetation to reduce fertilizer needs, and establishing environmentally-friendly cleaning protocols.  

    > Ecological Connectivity through UBC: What and where?

    By: Kun Han Goh, in collaboration with Campus + Community Planning and the SEEDS Sustainability Program

    Ecological connectivity refers to the connectivity of different natural habitats in an area. In the context of UBC, it can help us understand how urban biodiversity and different species’ habitats might be impacted by campus structures.

    Goh modelled the movement of seven species through UBC to identify areas on campus, such as Pacific Spirit Park, that have high connectivity, and critical corridors of movement that could be enhanced to support the resilience of connectivity on campus. His presentation concluded with recommendations to conserve and enhance areas that are important to connectivity, for example by further integrating greenery into campus structures. Future research needs include refining the model and implementing targeted wildlife management strategies on campus. 

    Interested in knowing more about these projects? Search for them on the SEEDS Sustainability Library for the full reports, coming in summer 2024.  

    Research to Action Showcase

    Finally, the showcase concluded with a research-to-action activity, where participants were invited to brainstorm ways that this research could be translated into action to support urban biodiversity on the UBC Vancouver campus. I was at a table with the theme “Birds, Bats, and Bees,” and we came up with ideas on policies and practices, engagement, research, and considerations related to stewarding healthy environments for these animals.  

    We were pleased to be joined by so many people interested in taking action for biodiversity!
    Brainstorming ideas on sticky notes

    The event concluded with participants sharing back the ideas they came up with – including the viability of green roofs, planting more native plants on campus, and engaging with students more. We are looking forward to continuing the conversation on biodiversity and seeing how some of these ideas might be put into practice this summer and fall!  

    There are still more biodiversity-themed events planned for the rest of the month as part of Biodiversity Days. Check them out here

  • Climate-Friendly Food Systems: Research to Action Showcase

    Climate-Friendly Food Systems: Research to Action Showcase

    We are excited to invite you to share the results and outcomes of recent Climate-Friendly Food Systems student-led research and collaborations. We hope you can join us on April 25th from 2:00 to 4:00 pm in the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), BC Hydro Theatre for Climate-Friendly Food Systems: Research to Action Showcase 2024 to learn about the innovative research and action orientated outcomes being done on the UBC campus.

    The event is co-hosted by UBC SEEDS Sustainability Program and UBC Food Services as part of a series of annual SEEDS knowledge exchange events to advance sustainability ideas, policies and practices on the campus. 

    The event will:

    • Highlight Climate-Friendly Food student Research and recommendations that advance CAP 2030 actions and goals
    • Provide opportunities to advance Climate-Friendly Food Systems on the Vancouver campus and beyond spanning food procurement, consumption and food waste management topics


    • When: Thursday, April 25th 2024, 2:00-4:00pm
    • Where: BC Hydro Theatre (Room 2331) Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS, 2260 West Mall), UBC
    • Notes: Bring your own cup and container (in case of leftovers)

  • Biodiversity Connects Us: A Student-Led Research Showcase

    Biodiversity Connects Us: A Student-Led Research Showcase

    Curious about how biodiversity connects us all? We are excited to share some of the recent outcomes of student applied research collaborations which highlight the biodiversity all around us. Please join us on Thursday, May 2 from 2:30 to 4:00 in the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), BC Hydro Theatre for Biodiversity Connects Us: A Student-Led Research Showcase

    This year’s Student-Led Research Showcase is all about making connections. Join us to learn about a variety of biodiversity projects on the UBC-Vancouver Campus. Presentations will explore nature-based solutions to adapt and mitigate to extreme weatherdeepen our understanding of natural assets across our campus, and identify strategies to enhance the foundational connections that sustain urban campus biodiversity.

    Snacks and refreshments will be provided.

    The Showcase is part of Biodiversity Days(organized by the UBC Botanical Garden with support from SEEDS Sustainability Program). You are also welcome to explore and attend any of the other exciting events that are part of Biodiversity Days. More will be added soon! Find all of the details here.

    Showcase Details

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