Antelope Brush at Osoyoos Desert Centre

The OCCP statement of cooperation serves as a statement of partner's shared principles, goals and challenges.  Each organization participating as a partner in the OCCP has signed this statement.

Statement of Cooperation for the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program (OCCP)

between Allan Brooks Nature Centre Society, the Ministry of Environment, Environment Canada, South Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Program, Grasslands Conservation Council of British Columbia, the Land Conservancy of British Columbia, Ducks Unlimited Canada, North Okanagan Naturalists Club, Sustainable Environment Network Society, City of Vernon, Central Okanagan Regional District, Okanagan Basin Water Board, Nature Conservancy of Canada, The Land Trust Alliance of British Columbia, North Okanagan Parks and Natural Areas Trust, District of Lake Country, the Regional District of the North Okanagan, District of Coldstream, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Central Okanagan  Naturalist Club, Community Mapping Network of BC, City of Kelowna, Village of Lumby, City of Armstrong, District of West Kelowna, Science Opportunities for Kids, Okanagan Partnership Society, Central Okanagan Land Trust, District of Peachland, UBCO Lake Magazine, UBCO Centre for Social, Spatial, & Economic Justice, Vernon in Transition, Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary, Society for the Protection of Kalamalka Lake.

We see a special place where …

… the future of biodiversity is secure and the ecological integrity of the unique landscape is protected.

… species can continue to migrate between the interior of BC and the desert areas of the western United States.

… people of all ages can enjoy the natural beauty the area has to offer.

... the traditional values and knowledge of the Aboriginal people of the Okanagan are honoured and applied to new challenges.

… our common goal of sustainability addresses the use of resources to meet current needs (environmentally, socially and economically) while ensuring resources are available for many future generations.

We believe that ...

...biodiversity is a key component of Canada's national heritage.

Both Canada and British Columbia have made international and national commitments to conserve biological diversity. Canadians from all walks of life are committed to preserving this rich component of our national heritage for the enjoyment and education of future generations.

Biodiversity has inherent and ecosystem services values as well as economic consequences that justify its conservation. These values must be preserved for many future generations of Canadians

… the Okanagan Valley natural system is a unique and special place.

The Okanagan Valley is an area of uncommon richness of biodiversity. The mixture of large lake/riparian habitats, undeveloped grasslands and dry forest habitats host species that do not occur elsewhere in Canada, making the Okanagan one of Canada’s three most endangered ecosystems with international importance. The area also forms a biological corridor that connects the shrub-steppe habitats of the Columbia Basin with the grasslands of the Thompson Valley and Coniferous forests to the north. The corridor is crucial for many species of birds that migrate through it annually between summer and winter ranges. It is also key to the long-term movement of species as they adapt to changing environmental conditions, including climate change. As the climate warmed after the last ice age, the corridor was the principal portal of entry of southern plants and animals into the dry grasslands of central British Columbia. The area is home to an increasing number of people drawn by the superb quality of life -- the beauty of the landscape, the mild climate, and a richness of resources. It supports a wide range of agricultural, forestry, manufacturing, recreational and tourism activities.

… the future of the Okanagan natural system is threatened.

We cannot take the future health of the Okanagan natural system for granted. The area’s economic wealth has long been based on its abundant natural resources. Today, however, population growth and associated human activities threaten the natural environment that has made it so special and attractive. Climate change and its effects such as Beetle infestations are having an impact the Okanagan environment. Several species residing in the Okanagan are listed as nationally threatened, endangered or vulnerable1, and Okanagan Chinook Salmon and Okanagan Sockeye Salmon have COSEWIC status. Over a third of all provincially red-listed species are found in the Okanagan.

… it is not too late to save the natural system for our children and for their children.

We have today an opportunity for action as unique as the natural system itself. All the necessary factors for a successful conservation program are in place. Governments (including First Nations), non-government organizations, community groups and individuals are aware of the many challenges to the natural system. We have the desire to preserve this special place. The sound science we need to make informed policy choices is at hand. The commitment to cooperation and partnerships is stronger than ever.

… protecting this special place is our shared responsibility.

With this Statement of Cooperation we are focusing the energies and efforts of the conservation partners so that each can make a distinctive yet coordinated contribution toward addressing the environmental challenges facing the natural system. We will engage the considerable skills, energy and resources of governments, community groups, educators, youth, workers, industry and business. We intend to work through the many cooperative mechanisms currently in place to inform and involve local governments, community groups, educators, youth, workers, industry and business. This will help ensure an open and transparent process of establishing priorities, identifying opportunities for effective cooperative action, and measuring progress. We will work with and be guided by community supported; broad based planning initiatives that affect the Okanagan natural system. The Growth Management Strategies and Official Community Plans of Regional Districts in the Okanagan will be key planning tools that will help to focus our efforts in the Okanagan natural system.

… the Syilx2 people of the Okanagan have special responsibilities to their ancestors and to future generations on their territories.

Through long historical relationships, the Syilx along with neighbouring nations have acquired unique spiritual and cultural connections to their lands. The Syilx will continue their traditional role as caretakers on their territory. Syilx will work closely with communities within traditional Syilx territory to ensure that their traditional ecological knowledge and unique perspective sets a high standard for all in efforts to conserve and protect their homeland.

… we will build on the progress made to date.

In our efforts to work closely together for the future of the Okanagan natural system, we will build on the many worthwhile conservation activities and excellent working relationships that have been established in the area. Many programs and initiatives have resulted in protection of significant portions of the landscape, successful stewardship projects, informative research, and an array of excellent publications.

We intend to …

… work together to meet common challenges for the future of the Okanagan natural system.

The Statement of Cooperation serves as a statement of our shared principles, goals and challenges. We have established common priorities, a means of better coordinating many of the initiatives already underway and have provided a framework for collaboration on future initiatives in the area through the Okanagan Conservation Program Prospectus.

… translate our commitments into annual Action Plans.

To put into practice this Statement of Cooperation, we intend to establish a working group of senior-level representatives of the conservation partners. The goals of this group will be to develop annual Action Plans to secure habitat and manage key habitats, support and encourage sustainable land use practices and decisions, jointly consider long term planning issues including recovery plans for species at risk, and share scientific information on the natural system.

… continually monitor our progress and address emerging challenges.

In seeking to preserve and enhance the Okanagan natural system, we intend to work together in an open and accountable manner, monitor our progress and consider new priorities for action. We recognize that research, monitoring and evaluation activities will provide new information and may indicate the need to pursue new and different strategies. We are committed to changing our approaches, priorities and management as new information becomes available. We intend to meet on an annual basis to review progress under this Statement of Cooperation and provide direction on future priorities.

In working together towards the goals set out in this Statement of Cooperation, we need and welcome the ideas and efforts of all residents and organizations concerned about the future of their special place, the Okanagan natural system. It is our intention to add new signatures to the Statement of Cooperation as new partners embrace the vision outlined in this document.

1. Confirmed - Long-billed curlews, flammulated owls, skinks, gopher snakes, painted turtles, grasshopper sparrows, swainson’s hawks, rattlesnakes, screech-owls, spadefoots, badgers, grizzly bears, racers, short-eared owls, rubber boas, spotted bats, townsend's big-eared bats, western toads, and Lewis's woodpeckers.

2. The Syilx speaking people’s lands lie on both sides of the Okanagan River, east to the Selkirk range, west to the Cascades summit, south into Washington bounded by the Columbia River and Lake Chelan and north up to Salmon River.

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