From: Burns Bog Society
Published October 16, 2015 03:55 PM

Environmentalist Eliza Olson receives Honorary Degree

Surrey, October 15, 2015 - Dedicated and driven environmentalist Eliza Olson reached another milestone this past week at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.


Eliza’s staff, family, friends, and board members witnessed her walk across the stage to receive her Honorary Doctorate Degree on October 9, 2015 at the university’s Surrey Campus. The Honoris Causa is the highest form of recognition given by Kwantlen Polytechnic University to acknowledge those who stand out by their significant contributions whose excellence reflects positively on Kwantlen.


She has received other achievements, which include the 1999 BC Minister of the Environment Award, and the 2004 Canadian Geographic Silver Award for Conservation. Dr. Eliza received Canada’s Earth Day Hometown Hero Achievement Award in 2006. The Burns Bog advocate earned the title of one of CBC’s top 10 “Champions of Change” in 2011. She received the Queen Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for her incredible environmental work, and was listed as The Leader newspaper’s Community Leader of the Decade in 2012. Her track record continued in 2014 when Dr. Eliza received the BC Nature Community Award.


While still teaching, Dr. Olson decided to take action against plans put forward to develop Burns Bog into commercial, industrial, and residential areas. Dr. Eliza, along with others, successfully halted the destruction of the bog. Realizing that they had only won the battle and not the war, Eliza helped found the Burns Bog Conservation Society in the fall of 1988. Dr. Eliza has now served as its first and only president for 27 years. Her hard work and dedication resulted in four levels of government purchasing more than 2,000 hectares of Burns Bog in 2004. This purchase ensures the Bog is protected and managed to best preserve the natural ecosystem.


The Bog earned Ramsar designation in 2012 as part of the Fraser River Delta Ramsar site. The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty that outlines the guidelines and principles for the conservation and management of wetlands and their resources. Burns Bog is the largest raised peat bog on the West Coast of North America. It is the “lungs of the Lower Mainland” according to world-renowned peatland expert Dr. David Bellamy. The bog is an important regional climate regulator. It is home to a multitude of rare and endangered species. Dr. Eliza refers to the small plants that make up Burns Bog as the “Lilliputians of Mother Nature” because they are so small in comparison to the giants in the rainforest. Peat bogs store ten times more carbon than rainforests.


When asked about Dr. Eliza, Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Alan Davis states, “she has persistently stood up to protect Burns Bog and the region’s wetlands from further encroachment.” He goes on to mention that Eliza exemplifies the absolute best in sustained and committed service to the region.


Dr. Olson states, “Our organization, as small as it is, is probably the largest of its kind in B.C., and perhaps Canada, that focuses on peatlands. Peatlands only cover three per cent of the Earth’s surface. Protecting them is coming to the forefront of the United Nations. Saving peatlands is one of the cheapest ways to reduce the effects of climate change. Other countries   like Ireland, the UK, Finland and Holland are already ahead of us in peatland conservation.” Her current objective is to create an education centre that focuses on the Bog.


Dr. Eliza Olson continues to be a leading example in the community. She continues to educate and engage people ranging from kindergarten to seniors about how important our disappearing peatlands are. Dr. Olson continues to be a driving force in the conservation movement in British Columbia, and a community hero. 


For more information, visit our website at: www.burnsbog.org



Contact Info: Beverley Bly
Burns Bog Society Operations Manager
604-572-0373 or bev@burnsbog.org


Website : Burns Bog Society


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