Grad builds streams of her dreams
out for the plants," says Lana Malmkvist, clambering
down the gravelly bank of the creek that she built.
Malmkvist, a self-proclaimed "plant person"
who graduates this month with a master's degree in environmental
studies and geography, is leaving a couple of Victoria's
freshwater systems healthier than she found them.
Malmkvist and her colleagues restored
sections of Blenkinsop and Swan creeks, transforming
what were essentially "laser-straight ditches"
into healthy, meandering streams.
"When we started, we knew these
two sections of creek were not functioning at all,"
says Malmkvist. A couple of years later, the areas have
been revitalized for plants, animals and humans alike.
And while there may not be any salmon spawning in the
streams yet, Malmkvist has a "build it and they
will come" approach.
"We're trying to put in place all
the elements that will kick-start the restoration process,"
she says. The new habitats are already attracting more
wildlife, such as herons, turtles, frogs, ducks and
The two projects, which involved co-ordinating
three levels of government as well as private landowners
and community groups, took months of assessment, design,
negotiation and planning. But there was also lots of
work to do on-site, supervising the creation of streambeds
and ponds to hold storm water.
"The on-the-ground stuff is the
most exciting part," says Malmkvist, who spent
many days on-site with hard-hat, vest and level as the
rejuvenated landscapes took shape. And, of course, she
took particular interest in choosing and planting native
sedges and rushes, shrubs and deciduous trees for the
Urban stream restoration was a natural
choice for Malmkvist, who earned a BSc in biology from
UVic in 1998, then worked with Aqua-Tex Scientific Consulting
Ltd, a local firm headed by former UVic instructor Patrick
Lucey. An NSERC industrial postgraduate scholarship
helped fund her work on the two projects.
In the end, both the Swan Creek and
Blenkinsop projects have won awards, not only for Malmkvist
but also for her collaborators, including the Municipality
of Saanich and Cadillac Homes developer Cam Pringle.
More of the same is in store for Malmkvist,
who thrives on bringing people together to devise ecologically
sustainable solutions to development.
"Development is going to occur,"
she says. "The thing to figure out is how to make
the best use of the space we do have left, and how to
make compromises that work for everyone."