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March 25, 2024, 3:53 pm

Regional Parks in British Columbia’s Central Okanagan Join Canada’s National Conservation Network

Environment and Climate Change Canada
GATINEAU -  Nature plays a critical role in regulating the climate and supporting health and well-being. Conserving natural areas provides more opportunities for Canadians to connect with nature, and it is one of the most important actions we can take to curb the ongoing loss of nature and biodiversity.

On May 22nd, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, commended the Regional District of Central Okanagan in British Columbia for its contribution to biodiversity conservation in Canada. The Regional District has officially recognized 25 regional parks as part of Canada’s national conservation network, further solidifying the Regional District of Central Okanagan's commitment to nature conservation. The combined area represents 2,114 hectares, which is now included in the Canadian Protected and Conserved Areas Database. Equivalent to 21.1 square kilometres, the total area is also larger than the city of Victoria, the provincial capital of British Columbia.

Science shows that conserving and restoring nature is vital to halting and reversing biodiversity loss, protecting species at risk, and fighting climate change. That is why the federal government launched the largest campaign in Canadian history to conserve nature, backed by over $5 billion in investments, with a goal of protecting 30 percent of land and water by 2030. This is possible by collaborating with partners, including other levels of government, Indigenous groups, and environmental non-government organizations.

By working together to recognize more areas for their biodiversity value, Canada will continue to strengthen and build a more inclusive conservation network that recognizes conservation action across all jurisdictions. Together, we will have a clearer—and more complete—picture of biodiversity conservation across the country.
The Regional District of Central Okanagan is a trailblazer for reporting its locally protected and conserved areas directly in the national database. It is a prime example of how regional and municipal governments can make meaningful contributions to national and international conservation targets. The future depends on everyone working together to act now.
 

Quotes


“Local greenspaces such as regional and municipal parks provide Canadians with places to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily reality and reconnect with themselves, their loved ones, and with nature. These areas also play an important role in biodiversity conservation across the country, and I want to commend the Regional District of Central Okanagan for embracing and supporting Canada’s conservation goals. This commitment has helped move us closer to conserving 30 percent of land and water by 2030—and in this incredibly important work, every effort counts.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“The Regional District of Central Okanagan, located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded land of the syilx/Okanagan people, is dedicated to preserving the biodiversity of our region for future generations. We continue to prioritize local conservation efforts to showcase our breathtaking landscapes and protect vital habitats for endangered species. This national recognition of the large expanse of our natural parks showcases our commitment to addressing climate change while creating opportunities for people to connect with nature.”
– Loyal Wooldridge, Board Chair, Regional District of Central Okanagan
 

Quick facts

 
  • Canada’s network of protected and conserved areas helps to protect wildlife habitat and safeguard healthy, resilient ecosystems, which contribute to the recovery of species at risk.
  • Intact forests and wetlands also capture and store carbon dioxide and can help protect communities from the impacts of climate change.
  • Locally protected greenspaces contribute to Canada’s conservation network and help Canadians connect with nature close to home, in urban and near-urban areas.
  • The Regional District of Central Okanagan is one of 27 regional districts, a government structure unique to the province of British Columbia. The Regional District of Central Okanagan provides a variety of services to more than 235,000 people, including those in two electoral areas, four municipalities, and Westbank First Nation.
  • Regional Parks in the Okanagan are unique in that the region is considered a biodiversity “hotspot” as it provides unique habitats to wildlife that are found nowhere else in the country. There are more than 1,597 identified species at risk in British Columbia, and 48 of them are found within the boundaries of the Regional District of Central Okanagan.
  • Celebrating 50 years in 2024, the Regional District of Central Okanagan parks system offers more than 2,100 hectares of parkland in 30 regional parks, including over 86 kilometres of designated trails and 10 parks with lake access, as well as 20 community parks in the two electoral areas. Visitor Services staff provide activities, events, and programs designed to celebrate, learn about, and connect with nature.

 

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