The Burns Bog Ecological Conservancy Area has two caretakers: the Corporation of Delta and Metro Vancouver. 2014 marks ten years of cooperation between the two levels of government protecting the bog, including monitoring water flows around its edge.
“If you look at this bog it is five thousand years plus (old) and over that period of time eight metres of peat have been laid down in some areas of the bog,” says Natural Resource Management Specialist Markus Merkens. “Without the water here we wouldn’t have the bog.”
Merkens is doing water testing at Burns Bog, working with Sarah Howie, an urban environmental designer with the the Corporation of Delta.
“What we’re trying to do is figure out which direction the water is flowing and how fast it’s flowing and how much water is flowing through the ditch,” explains Howie. “And the reason we want to do that is we’re trying to get a really good idea of how much water is coming in and how much water is going out.”
“Mineralized water, which flows from outside the bog towards the bog, is detrimental to the bog, and it’s really important that there is no influx of mineralized water,” adds Merken.
Dams are being built to help block and slow any seepage into the bog. It’s important to protect the bog’s sphagnum mosses because they hold thirty times their weight in water, and form what’s known as a carbon sink.
“If you take that moss out and let it burn or decompose, that carbon goes up into the atmosphere and contributes to the greenhouse effect,” says Howie. “And so if we keep bogs and protect them then we’re keeping that carbon in the ground and we’re combating global warming.”
In 2012, an international treaty designated Burns Bog as a wetland of international importance. Sarah Howie considers it a one-of-a-kind example of bog ecology, that deserves protection.
“Burns Bog is globally unique, (for) its form, its chemistry, the type of plants that grow here, and its large size.