This project brings together land use planners and qualified environmental professionals (QEPs) to develop an enhanced environmental planning process, improve staff coordination across the region, and provide standardized and more rigorous environmental assessments by QEPs.
Local government staff across the region are struggling with common challenges to provide environmental protection in their communities. Terms of reference vary between local governments, leading to inconsistencies in how QEPs collect, assess, and report on information. Various environmental assessments are more challenging due to a lack of information and no standardized approach.
Ecosystems in the Okanagan Valley have been heavily impacted by land development, and those that remain are at risk of further fragmentation and loss. With only small remnants of some ecosystems remaining such as wetland at 10% it is increasingly important for local governments, Indigenous communities, and the province to have tools to better understand and monitor land changes.
The Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program (OCCP) and Thompson-Nicola Conservation Collaborative (TNCC) are working together on a multi-year research project titled—Conservation Planning for Climate Change. The goal of the project is to combine Indigenous ecological and cultural knowledge and western science to identify priority conservation areas for wetlands and grasslands and establish policy for their protection.
Co-creating New Decision-Making Processes for Environmental Protection
The kłusxnitkʷ (Okanagan Lake) Responsibility Planning Initiative (OKLRPI) was developed as a syilx-led response to the large-scale loss of natural areas reported in the Okanagan Lake Foreshore Inventory and Mapping (FIM) reports from 2005, 2009 and 2016. The initiative was designed to address impacts threatening the long-term viability of Okanagan Lake and its ecosystems to provide clean drinking water, habitat for fish and wildlife, erosion and flood control, and climate change mitigation.
Keeping Nature in our Future, ‘A Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for the Okanagan Region’ (the Strategy) is an environmental policy framework that sets priorities for identifying, preserving and restoring important natural areas. The purpose of developing a regional strategy was to create a “big-picture” landscape view of the region that provides a framework for considering conservation options for entire ecosystems and watersheds that go beyond municipal or rural boundaries and includes all land-tenures.
In the Okanagan Valley, we are facing our final opportunity to maintain a network of low elevation ecosystems. The fast rate of development in the Okanagan is steadily reducing and fragmenting the low elevation areas thereby cutting off the remaining pathways for wildlife movement.
In response, this project brought together local and provincial governments, conservation organizations, industry, and Okanagan Nation Alliance to identify and implement actions to protect a major ecological wildlife corridor in the Central Okanagan. The resulting 65km by 1km corridor runs from Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park to Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park.
March 2020 note: this project was formerly known as "Outdoor Education Resource Kits for Okanagan Elementary Schools".
OCCP is working with the Okanagan Basin Water Board, school teachers, the Faculty of Education UBC Okanagan, the School Board and Wildrose Native Traditions to develop resources and materials to help teachers lead environmental lessons that support the new BC Curriculum.