Burns Bog Conservation Society president and founder Eliza Olson.

Honourary degree for Burns Bog booster

Eliza Olsen to be recognized at Kwantlen Polytechnic University Oct. 9.

Burns Bog’s biggest booster will receive an honourary degree from Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) next month.

Eliza Olson, the founding – and only – president of Burns Bog Conservation Society since 1988, will receive her degree in front of hundreds of graduates during fall convocation Oct. 9 in Surrey.

“She has persistently stood up to protect Burns Bog and the region’s wetlands from further encroachment,” said Dr. Alan Davis, president and vice-chancellor of KPU.

Olson has worked tirelessly for 27 years to educate the public about the peat bog’s ecological importance and its role as the “lungs of the Lower Mainland.”

The Delta bog, the largest on the west coast of North America, stores vast amounts of carbon and provides a stopover for 400 species of migratory birds.

Olson’s advocacy in engaging community, government and various service agencies eventually resulted in the purchase of more than 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of Burns Bog by four levels of government in 2004. The purchase ensures the bog is protected and managed effectively as a natural ecosystem.

Because they only cover three per cent of the Earth’s surface, Olson said, the issue of saving and protecting peatlands is coming to the forefront of the United Nations as well as other countries such as Ireland, Finland and the U.K.

“Our organization, as small as it is, is probably the largest of its kind in B.C., and perhaps Canada, that focuses on peatlands.”

Olson calls the dead and decaying plants that comprise Burns Bog the “littlest Lilliputians” because they store 10 times more carbon per hectare than rain forests.

Olson was named The Leader newspaper’s Community Leader of the Decade in 2012 and a Champion of Change by CBC in 2010.

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