Ecosystem services in the proposed national park reserve for the South Okanagan : Lower Similkameen region Echeverri Ochoa, Alejandra; McGlenn, Stephen; Mill, Sian; Wong, Janson
The South Okanagan-Lower Similkameen region of British Columbia is one of the most biologically diverse areas in Canada hosting ca. 55 endangered and threatened species. A National Park Reserve has been proposed for this area but it has been highly opposed. We conducted a spatial analysis and a literature review in order to evaluate the costs and benefits of establishing a national park in the region. Using an ecosystem services framework, we developed four management scenarios and found that the area provides ecosystem services that would be much more enhanced in the timeframe of 50 years if it becomes a national park reserve. Establishing a national park enhances habitat quality that is crucial for endangered species’ long-term survival. In addition, we found that the region acts as an important carbon sink that could potentially help the provincial and federal governments meet their greenhouse gas reduction strategies. The area provides water-related ecosystem services, and provides cultural, recreational and spiritual services for local residents and First Nations. We propose a set of recommendations directed towards the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) in its campaign for the establishment of the park; our aim is to better inform a decision for the establishment of the park based on the ecosystem services provided in the region. In particular, we highlight the importance of consultation and collaboration with local stakeholders, especially First Nations and local ranchers, in the deliberation for the decision to establish a park in the region.
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