The BC Small Wetlands Association promotes biodiversity conservation through programs at Pleasant Valley Wetland Heritage Park. Wetlands can help to minimize or even remediate environmental problems by providing habitat for a rich variety of plants and animals in spite of their relatively small representation across the landscape (Wetland Stewardship Partnership 2010b). Unfortunately, our wetlands have little to absolutely no information available (especially smaller unappreciated wetlands), and this lack of knowledge can lead to the degradation and/or loss of these important ecosystems.
In collaboration with the Real Estate Foundation of BC and the Okanagan Basin Water Board, the Society in raising awareness of the role of small wetlands in BC with the help of our Youth Ambassadors who help to promote wetland conservation. Ecological literacy needs to begin close to home, encouraging learners, especially youth, to understand how conserving wetlands can mitigate the impact of climate change.
Disappearance of Wetlands in the Okanagan Valley
It is difficult to find any wetlands close to human/agricultural/forestry activities that haven’t been either drained or taken over by aggressive/invasive plants. References suggest that greater than 95% of the original wetland surface areas in the Okanagan Valley have been destroyed by road construction and urban development in the valley. One extensive cattail marsh wetland that disappeared was at the north end of Vernon, as part of the BX Creek drainage — where the sprawling malls/parking lots and residential developments are located.
Impact of Climate Change
The Secwepemc community have voiced concerns over the effects of climate change on culturally important native plants at the Shuswap Lake/Salmon River Delta. Soapberry, Huckleberry and Saskatoon all ripen at the same time, making it difficult to utilize the berries before they spoil. There are fewer tules (broad leaf bulrush) growing in the area. Ethnobotanists working at the delta report the survival rate of green willow and red osier dogwood live stakes is 25% less year over year and that invasive species are overtaking second and third year riparian planting.
Through a cultural ecological outreach program commencing in fall 2021, we will study enclosed ecosystems – the physical, chemical, and climatic environment, and the processes that control the dynamics of the system. We want to improve biodiversity by creating and conserving a habitat that will provide long-term protection to plants and wildlife. We hope to establish a duck colony and we have attracted many amphibians and a wide variety of birds.
Native Plants, Trees and Shrubs
We are planting over one hundred traditional native plants in the park. Youth have been helping to create interpretive signs for the plants with the assistance of a traditional ecological knowledge expert, an ethnobotanist and volunteers from the local community
Wetland Program Objectives:
- Phytoremediation through transplanting bulrushes and cattails into the wetland
- Riparian planting of native species, including green willow, red osier and cottonwood
- Climate change monitoring of carbon sequestration and other indicators
- Attract habitat mosquito predators through the construction of bat boxes and swallow boxes
- Provide a wetland habitat that attracts a healthy amphibian population
Carbon Sequestration Monitoring
As with all strategies to reduce atmospheric carbon, terrestrial carbon sequestration has many economic, social and ecological trade offs. But done well, climate change mitigation as well as other benefits can be achieved. For example, converting marginal farmlands to forests or wetlands may increase carbon sequestration, enhance wildlife habitat and water quality.
Riparian planting and management is the restoration, enhancement and the construction of wetlands, rivers or streams inside a property. It plays an important part because it stabilizes the land in many ways. Some of the benefits of riparian planting include:
- Protects riparian systems from livestock. It acts as a deterrent from any cattle that could destroy or pollute its waterways.
- Filters the water. Riparian plants help clean the water running through the property.
- Prevents erosion. It minimizes erosion problems, especially if you plant native trees, it helps strengthen the land.
- Filters pollution. Riparians systems can carry pollutants along the way, plants help filter out most of these pollutants.
- Moderates water flow. Using a riparian system moderates flow of water in your property, which helps prevent flooding.
- Riparians also moderate water temperature. Improved water condition allows fishes and other water creatures to thrive.
- They also provide food to aquatic insects and fishes.
Riparian planting not only helps boost the look of the land, it also sustains it. Aside from the aesthetic benefit, it has environmental and developmental benefits as well. Many subdivision owners use wetlands for their wastewater treatment management system. They use wetlands to control the effects of livestock productions or some damages from septic tanks.