Supporting and expanding upon the RDCO initiative to plan for Ecosystem Connectivity (for more info, see the "BRAES Connectivity Booklet" below) in the Central Okanagan. Coordinate an Action Team to take recommendations from Connectivity Workshop and begin to work towards implementing corridors across public and private lands, in the RDCO and adjoining areas.

Introduction

Designing and Implementing Ecosystem Connectivity in the Okanagan was developed as part of the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy work undertaken by the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program. As part of the Keeping Nature in Our Future Series, this document is one of the Supporting Regional Documents. This guide strives to outline the considerations necessary to identify and undertake land use planning for wildlife corridors and ecosystem connectivity.

What is Ecosystem Connectivity and Why is it Required?

Purpose and summary of the components in this guide

This  guide  is  designed  as  a  tool  for  local  and  senior  government  planners  and  land managers interested in supporting biodiversity conservation by retaining and restoring ecosystem connectivity. The guide explains what connectivity is and why it is important to  support  biodiversity.  The  guide  also  explains  the  fundamentals  of  designing  and implementing  an  ecosystem  connectivity  plan.  Whether  you  are  planning  to  hire consultants to assist in the development of a plan, or intend to work with local partners to build a strategy yourself, this guide can help direct the planning process and produce results that benefit ecosystems and the species (including people) that live in them.

Key Messages about Ecosystem Connectivity

  • Connectivity, comprised of physical and functional links between ecosystems, is necessary to support biodiversity
  • A connected network of ecosystems supports ecosystem services, provides opportunities for animal and plant movement across the
    landscape and sustains natural areas close to populated areas
  • Ecosystem connectivity tends to be reduced where people work and live (e.g. low elevations; flat terrain; areas near water)
  • The building blocks of a connectivity strategy include ecosystem patches linked by connective elements such as landscape and linear
    corridors.  Buffer  zones  to  limit  impacts  of  adjacent  land  use  may  also  be  added.    Where  corridors  are  not  possible,  effective
    connectivity for some species can sometimes be achieved by small ecosystem patches (stepping stones corridors)
  • Ecosystem connectivity supports the delivery of ecosystem services and particularly helps conserve riparian areas, water purification
    and flood control areas
  • Ecosystem connectivity also moderates impacts of climate change on temperature, carbon dioxide storage and overall biodiversity
  • Ecological connectivity supports genetic diversity; connectivity also supports movement opportunities that wildlife and plants require
    for their reproduction and survival
  • Ecological  connectivity  supports  a  cost  effective  way  to  protect  species  at  risk,  reduce  wildlife  conflicts  and  address  challenges
    created by man-made barriers
  • Ecological Connectivity combines benefits for ecosystems and species with benefits for people.

Additional Resources

BRAES Connectivity Booklet [PDF]

Planning for Ecosystem Connectivity Workshop Report (Nov 2016) [PDF]