Local government has a key role to play in ensuring the South Okanagan Similkameen’s ecosystems and networks of natural areas remain healthy and sustainable.
That’s the foundation of a biodiversity conservation strategy prepared by the South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program partners that encourages local government, landowners, conservation groups and residents to rethink how they view the region they call home.
Keeping Nature in Our Future is a strategy to help ensure the ecosystems that make the South Okanagan and Similkameen valleys so special are here for future generations to enjoy.
“The South Okanagan-Similkameen is a spectacular place,” said SOSCP manager Bryn White. “Its warm climate and abundance of resources have created an environment almost perfect for human comfort. And we’ve made the most of that opportunity — building a wealth of agricultural diversity, a recreational paradise and communities that offer a world-class lifestyle.”
But, adds White, the region is also a biologically unique area with species and ecosystems that do not exist anywhere else in Canada — and in some cases the world.
“Many of these ecosystems are facing serious threat from the very activities that make our lifestyle so complete.”
Key to reversing these serious threats is action on the part of local government in the form of careful land use planning and development, incentives for landowners and developers and other tools such as land acquisition and stewardship.
The South Okanagan-Similkameen Conservation Program plans to introduce the Keeping Nature in Our Future strategy with presentations to various municipal governments over the next two months. As well, SOSCP and the RDOS are co-hosting public consultations in South Okanagan-Similkameen communities to give citizens an opportunity to get to know the strategy and let decision makers know what is important to them.
“Although local government plays a vital role in this strategy, we are all stakeholders in the place we call home,” explained White. “It’s important for all South Okanagan and Similkameen residents to be involved in this process. The Planning and Development Committee of the Regional Board recently received a copy of the Draft and is looking for input from the Public on the document and its direction. All of the public comments and feedback will be provided to the local governments as part of their review and decision making process. This is a great opportunity for the public’s voice to be heard.”