Climate change is a major reason the Canadian government should establish a long-sought national park in the South Okanagan region, according to Peter Wood.
“All the species in the massive grasslands to the south, as they feel the need to move northward to achieve a cooler climate, they have to pass through a narrow bottleneck near Osoyoos,” the terrestrial campaigns director for the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society told the Georgia Straight by phone from downtown Vancouver. “If that’s just chock full of development, they’ll reach a dead end, and those species will die out.”
On Tuesday (March 24), the impact of climate change on parks and biodiversity will take centre stage at an event presented by the organization Cool North Shore at the Coffeebar (1695 Marine Drive) in West Vancouver. Wood will be one of the speakers, along with West Vancouver Streamkeeper Society president John Barker and Frieda Schade of Metro Vancouver.
According to Wood, large parks are needed to provide a “safe haven” for species dealing with the effects of global warming. He asserted that they also play an important role in climate-change mitigation as carbon sinks.
“People are talking about all these expensive things, like carbon capture and storage, and other technological fixes,” Wood said. “Some of the most efficient gains can be achieved just by protecting it [forests] and avoiding the release of the carbon through logging or other land use.”
Schade, Metro Vancouver’s division manager of planning and engineering services in regional parks, told the Straight the regional government takes rising sea levels and increasingly severe floods into account when building new trails and facilities. She noted that many volunteers are helping to remove invasive plants and make room for native species in the 22 regional parks.
“Our parks are reservoirs for species to take refuge in, and they can be migration routes,” Schade said by phone from Burnaby. “These large natural sites are super, super important to the region in addressing climate change.”