Uniting for Nature: Highlights from Biodiversity Days 2024

Read about our fourth annual Biodiversity Days celebration, and how the many branches of our community joined together to share knowledge on all things biodiversity!  

As a new Sustainability and Community Programs student at UBC Botanical Garden, May was an exciting time to start my first month on the team and dive right into Biodiversity Days 2024! Every year to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity, UBC Botanical Garden in collaboration with the SEEDs Sustainability Program joins hands with many generous organizations, researchers and volunteers to raise awareness of the diverse ecosystems that support and inspire our communities.  

It was amazing to see and support a diversity of events, all aimed at motivating a generation of stewards, scientists and citizens to protect our local and global biodiversity. These events, including festivals, educational activities, tours, research events, and book signings, all surpassed expectations thanks to our partnerships. We are so thankful to all our collaborators apart of our series of events and would like to give a special shout-out to everyone on the UBC SEEDS team, without them Biodiversity Days 2024 would not have been as fruitful as it was!  

This year, we hosted 13 Biodiversity Days events which reached 22,155 members of our community across UBC and Metro Vancouver. Seeing how the team has brought people together over the course of May is quite special! Given the numerous threats climate change poses to biodiversity, it is crucial to establish a strong network of individuals committed to conservation. 

UBC Botanical Garden staff, volunteers and Biodiversity Days partners gather to celebrate a successful month of events!

These events were hosted on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy’əm (Musqueam) People, who have lived in relation with this land since time immemorial. Everyone on the UBCBG team is very grateful to be able to share Biodiversity Days events on this land with our community!  

Explore the highlights below to see how we engaged with the community across our 13 events; both online and in-person: 

May 1st 

Type of Event: Book Signing 

Number of Student Participants: 30 

Highlights: Best Selling author and retired arborist Collin Varner was welcomed back to UBC Botanical Garden for a book signing hosted by the Friends of the Garden. His two new pocket guides, 50 Keystone Flora Species of Coastal British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest and 50 Keystone Fauna Species of Coastal British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest were both available at the book signing and garnered nature enthusiasts of all kinds. Colin’s pocket guides are sold at UBC Botanical Garden's Shop

Collin Varner and Friend of the Garden at Book Signing event. Photo credit: Katrina Yu

May 2nd 

Type of Event: Student Research Showcase 

Number of Student Participants: 48 

Highlights: This action-oriented student research showcase left attendees with new connections amongst students, researchers and faculty members to foster collaborative action for biodiversity on campus. The student research presentations explored nature-based solutions to adapt and mitigate extreme weather and identify strategies to sustain urban campus biodiversity. Following presentations, attendees participated in motivating discussions on four central topics; pollinators, Earth, water, & wind, wellbeing and biodiversity & restorative landscapes. 


“It was really rewarding to see the students successfully present their fascinating projects, which generated lively discussion. Looking forward to carrying this work to continue to support urban campus biodiversity.” 

- Michelle Hak Hepburn, Nature Inclusive Coordinator at SEEDS 

May 2nd 

Type of Event: Livestream 

Number of Student Participants: 10,000 views 

Highlights: This event welcomed gardeners of all kinds to explore the new book "The Layered Edible Garden" by horticulturist and Fluent Garden owner Christina Chung. The livestream, hosted by Metro Vancouver’s Regional Parks Planner Karin England, featured an insightful discussion with Christina on the topic of food forests.  

May 5th 

Type of Event: Guided Experience 

Number of Student Participants: 12 

Highlights: Families and beginner birders joined Bev and Bill Ramey on a peaceful Sunday morning to learn firsthand how to identify and support local birds. The group listened for bird songs and identified various species using the Merlin app, getting a closer view with the binoculars provided. 

May 11th  

Type of Event: In-person event 

Number of Student Participants: 500 

Highlights: UBC Botanical Garden staff hosted a station for Science Rendezvous at Nitobe Memorial Garden on a sunny Saturday. Families and students of all ages learned about plants such as moss, as well as biodiversity and community science!  

May 18th  

Type of Event: In-person celebration 

Number of Student Participants: 333 

Highlights: Family Nature Walk 2024 had an impressive turnout of 333 participants! Families from across Vancouver were welcomed into the Garden to explore education stations on topics such as biodiversity and pollination, and participants got the chance to walk among the trees at the Greenheart Tree Walk. 

May 19th  

Type of Event: Guided Experience 

Number of Student Participants: 17 

Highlights: UBC Botanical Garden’s very own ecologist Terrell Roulston hosted a Bee Walk, sharing his knowledge of invasive pollinators and how to support native pollinators. Participants had the opportunity to get hands-on experience catching bees, guided by demonstrations of proper techniques.  

Ecologist Terrell Roulston on CBC Vancouver News for Bee Walk coverage

May 21st  

Type of Event: Guided Tour 

Number of Student Participants: 17 

Highlights: On the UN Day of Cultural Diversity, our knowledgeable guides at the Garden hosted a suite of tours offered in English, French, Japanese, German, Spanish and our most popular; Mandarin. Participants learned interesting facts about various plants and the importance of bio-cultural diversity. 

May 22nd  

Type of Event: Exhibit Opening 

Number of Participants: 90 

Highlights: In partnership with the Growing Millet Together Global Network, the Beaty Biodiversity Museum launched the Magic of Millets Exhibit . Attendees learned more about the climate resistant crop from PhD student Saori Ogura and explored the Food for Thought photography by artist Robert Dash. Participants even took home some millet recipes! 

Student Hudson Holdcroft welcomes participants to the newly opened the Magic of Millets Exhibit.

May 23rd  

Type of Event: Livestream 

Number of Student Participants: 11,000 views 

 Highlights: Metro Vancouver Regional Parks Planner, Karin England hosted Ronda Tuyp and Terrell Roulston from UBC Botanical Garden for an engaging discussion on climate friendly gardens and how to support biodiversity in your own home. 

Speakers Rhonda and Terrell show off their favourite drought tolerant plants available to purchase at the Shop in the Garden, where they filmed the livestream!

May 23rd  

Type of Event: Webinar 

Number of Student Participants: 47 

Highlights: UBC Botanical Garden’s Dionne Bunsha and Lyndsey Smith from Coastal Douglas Fir Conservation Partnership welcomed Katherine Andy (Squamish Environmental Society), Pamela Zevit (Biodiversity Conservation Planner for City of Surrey), Dr. Erin Crockett (Earth Observation and Spatial Ecology lab, University of British Columbia for the Action for Adaptation project) and Andrew Simon (Institute for Multidisciplinary Ecological Research in The Salish Sea (IMERSS)) for an insightful discussion on how community science can help steward our local ecosystems. 

May 23rd  

Type of Event: In-person event 

Number of Participants: 35 FOGs 

 Highlights: Dr Tara Moreau (UBCBG) and Derek Tan (Beaty Biodiversity Museum) led a special behind the scenes tour of the new Magic of Millets exhibit highlighting the interconnectedness of food plants and people, sharing information on the network of international millet farmers. 

UBC Garden volunteers explore the Magic of Millets exhibit at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

May 29th  

Type of Event: Guided Experience 

Number of Student Participants: 26 

Highlights: Dr. Matt Mitchell and UBC student Aaron Agurrie of UBC hosted an evening tour to learn about the diversity of bat species in the area and their important roles in ecosystems, pollination, and to people! Guests got to visit a nearby bat roost and used ultrasonic microphones to listen for bat calls. 

Aaron and Matt showcase one of the bat boxes that have recently been installed on campus.


A reoccurring favourite activity of our Family Nature Walk is the Wishing Tree. For this activity children are encouraged to write down and share their wishes for nature and biodiversity for the years to come. When I look at the wishes hung from a tree in the Garden, it reminds me of the importance of protecting biodiversity for future generations. The image below shows a sample of some of the wishes included in this year’s Wishing Tree:

A huge thank you from all of us at UBC Botanical Garden goes out to our amazing participants, volunteers, and collaborators. Your support and enthusiasm made this celebration unforgettable!  

Being a part of such a large faculty as a UBC Environmental Science student it has been a memorable experience finding a place in the UBC Botanical Garden community. Biodiversity is a shared responsibility, and I am grateful for the chance to be a part of an incredible team to unite the community around this important mission.  

We're already planning next year's event and would love to hear any feedback you have to make it even better. Thanks again and see you next year! 

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