Delta is located at the heart of the vast Fraser River Estuary ecosystem, which is bordered by the Fraser River, Roberts Bank and Boundary Bay. The estuary and its adjacent lands have global significance for various species of birds and salmon, and regional significance for wildlife biodiversity. The Fraser River is considered the most important salmon spawning river in the world. Its estuary provides valuable habitat for herring, shellfish and a variety of other aquatic species. Delta's extensive foreshore also provides recreational and aesthetic opportunities that are an integral part of Delta's community identity.
Delta is perhaps best known for its wetland, estuarine and upland habitats that support the largest wintering populations of waterfowl, shorebirds and birds of prey in Canada. Up to five million migratory birds use the Fraser River Estuary and delta as a vital stopover on the Pacific Flyway. Boundary Bay and its adjacent uplands represent the most significant migratory waterfowl and shorebird habitat on Canada's Pacific Coast.
As a result, the lands and waters of the Fraser River Estuary have received a number of noteworthy designations.
- Boundary Bay and the Ladner Marsh are provincial Wildlife Management Areas.
- The Alaksen National Wildlife Area is located on Delta's Westham Island.
- The estuary was declared an Important Bird Area in 2001, and is recognized as the most significant out of 597 such sites in Canada.
- The Fraser River foreshore and selected provincial and federally owned lands were named a Hemispheric Site in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network in 2004.
In addition to the Fraser River Estuary, Delta also contains important upland habitats. For example, Delta is home to one of the most significant bog ecosystems in Canada - Burns Bog. Covering approximately 3,000 hectares, Burns Bog is considered to be the largest domed peat bog in western North America and represents one of the region's most important ecological areas due to its size and variety of habitats. In 2004, approximately 2,040 hectares of Burns Bog were purchased by four levels of government and are now protected as an Ecological Conservancy Area.
Other examples of upland environments in Delta include soil-based farm fields, old-field habitat, short grass fields, shrublands, hedgerows, watercourses, ravines and woodlands. These habitats, which support a diversity of wildlife and contribute to greenspace in Delta, form a considerable portion of the Greater Vancouver Regional District's Green Zone. Many of these areas are protected as Environmentally Sensitive Areas or are part of municipal or regional parks and environmental reserves.
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