The extensive park system of protected forest areas of the regional district is crucial for the survival of the biodiversity of our region. It also plays a crucial role in sequestering CO2 and this will only be maximized by maintaining the biodiversity of these forest ecosystems including the large predators that are key species.
The latest IPCC report on climate change is a “code red” for humanity. We have a responsibility to protect the natural ecosystems in our own backyard to help correct the planetary course. Anyone with children or grandchildren must shudder to think about what the alternative will be for them on our current course.
In the 17 years since the Sea to Sea Greenbelt Initiative’s extensive expansion of the regional park system, next to nothing has been done to prioritize the protection of this irreplaceable ecological asset. This is evidenced by a current employee report entitled Ecological values and biodiversity in regional parks. We need our own course correction here in the CRD.
If we are honest in our climate change emergency statement in relation to our parks, then every park management policy and measure must be viewed and implemented from a climate emergency perspective. We need to increase the capacity of the Park Land Acquisition Fund and ensure that all new acquisitions prioritize properties that connect and buffer existing parklands to protect and enlarge key wildlife habitats and increase biodiversity resilience.
We need to provide adequate funding and human resources to carry out the comprehensive plan that was proposed but put on hold in 2010, including a conservation strategy, baseline ecological inventories, park status assessment and ecological monitoring program, and we need to work with indigenous communities. We need to acquire vacant land adjacent to parks suitable to buffer core wildlife habitat and provide recreational space, and create a scientific advisory group of conservation biologists to make the best park management decisions.
I hope that in the obvious urgency of our time, we will finally realize the protection of nature and the conservation of biodiversity in our parks as a promised top priority.
Council of Elders for Parks in BC