RDN Wetland Mapping

The Wetland Mapping and Monitoring project is a five-year research agreement that was created through a collaborative partnership with the Regional District of Nanaimo's (RDN) Drinking Water and Watershed protection (DWWP) program and Vancouver Island University (VIU). The project started in 2015 and was developed from recognition that there continues to be a lack of baseline data on wetlands in the region. Furthermore, there is limited data regarding where wetlands are situated, how they are classified, and what connection they have to groundwater recharge. This information is important for informing land use decisions in the region. Overall, research aims to inform policy and planning around wetlands in the region in order to better protect these important hydrologic features and ecosystems.

Student researchers follow the modified methods of the BC Wildlife Federation Wetlandkeepers program for mapping and classifying wetlands. Students also collect additional data relating to aquifers, geology, and land use. Students predominantly map wetlands during the summer and early fall field season. The data that students collect when in the field consists of: basic hydrological data (pH, turbidity, temperature), soil data, vegetation surveying, wetland perimeter and dimensions using a GPS, dominant and invasive species observations. Wetlands are further evaluated based on their overall wetland function while also considering influences from surrounding land uses, and visible physical features. Project guidance is provided from other partners, including: VIU faculty members from the Geography and Earth Science departments, and executive members of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES).

If you'd like to get involved with this research project or if you have a wetland on your property that you would like to volunteer to be mapped, feel free to pinpoint your wetland on the "Want to Volunteer your Wetland?" interactive map. For more information, we invite you to use the Q&A tab on this page or contact Haley Tomlin at the address listed at the bottom of this web page.

The Wetland Mapping and Monitoring project is a five-year research agreement that was created through a collaborative partnership with the Regional District of Nanaimo's (RDN) Drinking Water and Watershed protection (DWWP) program and Vancouver Island University (VIU). The project started in 2015 and was developed from recognition that there continues to be a lack of baseline data on wetlands in the region. Furthermore, there is limited data regarding where wetlands are situated, how they are classified, and what connection they have to groundwater recharge. This information is important for informing land use decisions in the region. Overall, research aims to inform policy and planning around wetlands in the region in order to better protect these important hydrologic features and ecosystems.

Student researchers follow the modified methods of the BC Wildlife Federation Wetlandkeepers program for mapping and classifying wetlands. Students also collect additional data relating to aquifers, geology, and land use. Students predominantly map wetlands during the summer and early fall field season. The data that students collect when in the field consists of: basic hydrological data (pH, turbidity, temperature), soil data, vegetation surveying, wetland perimeter and dimensions using a GPS, dominant and invasive species observations. Wetlands are further evaluated based on their overall wetland function while also considering influences from surrounding land uses, and visible physical features. Project guidance is provided from other partners, including: VIU faculty members from the Geography and Earth Science departments, and executive members of the Mid Vancouver Island Habitat Enhancement Society (MVIHES).

If you'd like to get involved with this research project or if you have a wetland on your property that you would like to volunteer to be mapped, feel free to pinpoint your wetland on the "Want to Volunteer your Wetland?" interactive map. For more information, we invite you to use the Q&A tab on this page or contact Haley Tomlin at the address listed at the bottom of this web page.

  • 2019 Wetland Mapping Season Has Begun!

    3 months ago
    Qualicum memorial ave 5

    In April, Vancouver Island University students and MABRRI staff began year four of wetland mapping. There are four primary goals for the 2019-2020 year, including: 1) complete the mapping of wetlands in each of the seven water regions, including finishing up Englishman River Water Region and starting on the Gabriola Island Water Region; 2) establish six priority sites to monitor throughout the year in order to get a more holistic idea of how these wetlands function; 3) install instrumentation, including water level loggers and a rain gauge, at one priority wetland in order to determine its connection to groundwater recharge;...

    In April, Vancouver Island University students and MABRRI staff began year four of wetland mapping. There are four primary goals for the 2019-2020 year, including: 1) complete the mapping of wetlands in each of the seven water regions, including finishing up Englishman River Water Region and starting on the Gabriola Island Water Region; 2) establish six priority sites to monitor throughout the year in order to get a more holistic idea of how these wetlands function; 3) install instrumentation, including water level loggers and a rain gauge, at one priority wetland in order to determine its connection to groundwater recharge; and 4) conduct a literature review on existing policy, best practices, and ecosystem services with regards to wetlands at the federal, provincial, and local levels.

    To date, only two of the wetlands in the Englishman River Water Region have been mapped, therefore the MABRRI team is keen to get out and map a few more prior to finalizing the final report. Additionally, MABRRI will be visiting and mapping wetlands on Gabriola Island this fall and finalizing a Gabriola Island Water Region report by the end of the year.

    Previously MABRRI had prioritized wetlands in the seven water regions by considering characteristics of each of the mapped wetlands, including hydrogeomorphic position, surrounding land use, hydrologic function, and general functional rating. However, in order to run a pilot project this year, with the goal of determining if a specific wetland has a direct role in groundwater recharge, the MABRRI team had to reconsider the way in which wetlands were prioritized. For MABRRI to conduct the study, an initial analysis using GIS was necessary to ensure that there is access to the parameters that will aid in the determination of groundwater connection: the site needs to be in close proximity to a volunteer or provincial observation well, a climate station, and a hydrometric station. Further, a secondary analysis was conducted using GIS to narrow down the sites of interest. Using the list of wetlands that was produced from the initial analysis, MABRRI focused on those that may be the most vulnerable due to resource extraction; therefore, the second analysis considered the wetland’s proximity to fish bearing streams, ground water wells, and water rights licences. In total, six priority sites were selected using this method and one of those six will have the instrumentation installed at it.

    Finally, a literature review discussing existing policy, best practices, and ecosystem services at all levels of government is being conducted. Ultimately, this literature review will provide a basis for informing policy actions that could be developed for the Regional District of Nanaimo.

  • Student Researchers Seek Wetlands to Map for the 2018 Research Season

    over 1 year ago
    29828932 10160177166685076 579286644 o




    Are you a community member that resides in the RDN? Are you interested in promoting and contributing to our understanding of wetlands and groundwater systems? Do you have a wetland that is located on your private property? If so, our team would love to collaborate in our regional initiative to increase freshwater sustainability.

    If you are interested in volunteering your property and its associated wetland for mapping and classifying, please see our attachment that summarizes the project, wetland criteria, and how to get involved in 2018!!






    Are you a community member that resides in the RDN? Are you interested in promoting and contributing to our understanding of wetlands and groundwater systems? Do you have a wetland that is located on your private property? If so, our team would love to collaborate in our regional initiative to increase freshwater sustainability.

    If you are interested in volunteering your property and its associated wetland for mapping and classifying, please see our attachment that summarizes the project, wetland criteria, and how to get involved in 2018!!



  • Wetland Mapping Researchers and Geophysics Class at Vancouver Island University Use Ground-Penetrating Radar at Spider Lake

    over 1 year ago
    29749454 1823611241003621 502464625415136943 o

    Did you know that Spider Lake is directly connected to its underlying aquifer?

    Spider Lakes unique geologic environment was formed during the last glaciation period and is among one of the dynamic areas our research team has visited. On Friday, April 6th, our project lead and students from the VIU Earth Science department ran geophysical survey lines along Spider Lake. This part of the project was supported by VIU's Regional Initiative Fund which provided funding to Earth Science professor, Jerome-Etienne Lesemann, to investigate groundwater flow in partnership with our wetland mapping team.

    The purpose of using ground penetrating radar is...

    Did you know that Spider Lake is directly connected to its underlying aquifer?

    Spider Lakes unique geologic environment was formed during the last glaciation period and is among one of the dynamic areas our research team has visited. On Friday, April 6th, our project lead and students from the VIU Earth Science department ran geophysical survey lines along Spider Lake. This part of the project was supported by VIU's Regional Initiative Fund which provided funding to Earth Science professor, Jerome-Etienne Lesemann, to investigate groundwater flow in partnership with our wetland mapping team.

    The purpose of using ground penetrating radar is to map the subsurface architecture in the area, giving researchers an understanding of the distribution of materials that control the connection between surface and groundwater systems. Students spent the day walking over 7 kilometers, gathering imagery of the subsurface. In the weeks to come our project lead and students from VIU will be interpreting the results with the help of Dr. Lesemann. Our team is very excited to see the hidden wonders of the subsurface and to understand how surface water is moving into the underlying perched aquifer.

    Stay tuned for the results of our survey!

  • Researchers Complete Mapping and Classifying of 31 Wetlands in the RDN!

    over 1 year ago
    Mabrri mapped wetlands 2017 v2

    To date, student researchers at Vancouver Island University and MABRRI have mapped a total of 31 wetlands across five different water regions. Of these five water regions, three wetland classification and geologic assessment reports were developed for the Little Qualicum, French Creek and South Wellington water regions as per the 2017 deliverables. Have a look at our map, below.


    To date, student researchers at Vancouver Island University and MABRRI have mapped a total of 31 wetlands across five different water regions. Of these five water regions, three wetland classification and geologic assessment reports were developed for the Little Qualicum, French Creek and South Wellington water regions as per the 2017 deliverables. Have a look at our map, below.