Conserving South Okanagan habitat a key climate change solutions tool

Why conservation matters

Casey Richardson

April is Earth Month and in the South Okanagan, a non-profit land conservation organization wants to highlight the importance of protecting the biodiversity that is spread throughout the valley.

The Nature Trust of BC has already purchased and conserved four properties across BC in 2022, totalling 532 acres of ecologically important land. One of most recent note was eighty acres of ecologically important land that was added to the Skaha Lake Eastside Conservation Complex.

"BC has some amazing biodiversity hotspots. One of them is right there in the Okanagan," Jasper Lament, CEO of The Nature Trust of BC said.

"We try to focus our efforts in those places where the biodiversity is highest, where the threats to habitat are high, and where The Nature Trust of BC can make a difference by protecting important habitats before they're lost."

The organization hopes to fundraise enough to purchase four more parcels shortly, including a unique grasslands habitat near the Keremeos Columns Provincial Park.

"Biodiversity is one of the the things that make living in our home, BC, fantastic. So we certainly encourage people to get engaged to learn about the amazing species that live on trust lands and to get involved in protecting them."

Nature Trust has seen more interest from both the federal government and individuals in BC with the growing awareness and concern about both climate change and conservation.

"So those two crises of climate change and biodiversity really now are connected in people's minds. They're seeing the value of protecting places with grasslands, wetlands and forests as part of fighting climate change, but also protecting the biodiversity," Lament said.

He emphasized that land conservation is a nature smart climate solutions tool.

"By protecting land, like forests, grasslands, and wetlands, we're protecting places that store carbon. And so nature does a great job of storing carbon in these habitat and we can contribute to addressing our climate change challenges by protecting habitat and in keeping the carbon in those, the native plants and soils where they belong."

As wildfire season approaches, the organization will be watching carefully over the Okanagan grasslands as a part of the natural cycle.

"Disturbances like floods and wildfires are certainly a fact of life....that's natural, that's part of their fire dependent ecosystem."

They teams will go in to repair any fences, which help to protect the grassland by managing livestock, if they get damaged or burned.

Unfortunately, there are still people who choose to dump their trash on conservation lands.

"That's really unfortunate, because it damages the habitat, it affects wildlife and it puts a big cost on the nature trust. We are a charity we have to hire staff to and students to go out there and clean up the mess."

A reminder that while conservation lands generally welcome access, vehicles and bikes are not permitted.

To find out more about Nature Trust and their conservation properties, visit their website here.

More Penticton News