Facilitating the protection and restoration of species and ecosystems at risk on BC’s South Coast
Announcing our latest South Coast tools and resources hot off the e-press!
Tamsin Baker, SCCP Stewardship Coordinator:
In addition to our guides on amphibians, owls and land snails, the widely anticipated 'Gardening with Native Plants in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley' guide was released in August! Produced in partnership with the Fraser valley Conservancy, this colourful multi-page booklet is full of information to get you started in creating a wildlife habitat garden using native plants that will attract local critters such as birds, butterflies, bees, and more!
Not only is the area from Vancouver to Chilliwack a hotspot for biodiversity, much of the land is privately owned. With so many human-related threats to wildlife habitat, private landowners can make a real difference by creating and maintaining ‘wildlife-friendly’ properties.
To successfully attract native critters, including those at-risk, it is important to know the three main needs for wildlife: food, shelter, and water. The food they need is connected to plants that are native to the region. Gardening with native plants can significantly help ensure that food, such as seeds, nectar, and insects, and shelter will be available.
To provide native plant gardening support in this region, the SCCP recently developed and published Gardening with Native Plants in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. Inspired by a similar guide created by the Habitat Acquisition Trust for the drier Victoria region, the core of the guide is a plant table, with photos, that spotlights 40 native plants. It includes notes on their best growing conditions, and which will attract butterflies, hummingbirds, pollinators, and/or other wildlife.
A key focus for the guide is the message that it is best to add a mix of plants with the aim to create habitat, rather than focusing on individual plants. Also highlighted are various points to consider when planning, creating and maintaining a native plant garden, as well as many other tips to benefit wildlife. The SCCP also recognizes that gardeners are also looking for a visually-pleasing yard as well. Photos in the guide show that many of our native plants can provide colour throughout the year in the form of flowers, berries and fall foliage. Gardening is an activity that forges connections with the local environment. This guide is sure to enhance those connections!
Stay tuned for the Native Plant Gardening workshops that the SCCP will be hosting in early 2019, in the meantime check out the new guide along with our other unique resources developed for the Nature Stewards Program here
Pamela Zevit RPBio, SCCP Special Projects Coordinator:
Our most recent publication Species at Risk and Critical Habitat: Understanding Responsibilities & Making Informed Decisions On Private Land (Sept. 2018) has been developed specifically for addressing roles and responsibilities around dealing with species at risk and critical habitat on private lands on BC's South Coast. While this resource was developed with landowners, developers and realtors in mind, the document will also be a useful tool for local government staff who engage with these audiences, whether at the municipal hall "front counter", as part of community planning or even on up to the elected decision-maker level. For further information and resources check out our pages for Local Governments and Landowners
First and foremost, it is important to ensure that landonwers, elected officials, land-use authorities and professionals understand that the Federal Species at Risk Act applies to all lands in Canada. A key point that the SCCP often sees being misinterpreted by the public, elected officials and developers. More specifically there are big inconsistencies in how local jurisdictions and landowners understand or even acknowledge their responsibilities to protect critical habitat for species at risk. Habitat which has been indetified as being essential for a species' survival and recovery.
Taking it step by step: So how do landowners even find out if critical habitat is an issue they need to be concerned about, and if their property is affected, what next? This resource developed by the SCCP hopes to address those issues by exploring the steps needed to take proactive, effective measures. The content is designed to be as comprehensive as possible. It may well be that landowners will need to retain the services of a professional (QEP) like a biologist to help them address certain issues. Many aspects covered may seem a lot to take in and worrisome. The intent of the SCCP is not to add costs to landowners, increase their frustration or tell them what they can or cannot do on their property. But we would be remiss if we didn’t cover all the bases and provide the public with the best understanding of what their obligations are under the legislation, and what options are available to achieve them.
Download your copy of these important resources today!
Projects like this, and more broadly the work of the SCCP will be crucial as the Province of BC Moves forward on its mandate to develop a BC Species At Risk Act. BC is the only place in Canada still without stand-alone protection for species at risk. The ultimate goal for the SCCP is to ensure landowners and the municipalities that oversee the approval for most land use activities on private land, have a consistent guide for understanding the steps, options and responsibilities involved when dealing with species at risk critical habitat. The tools and resources we develop provide example processes that can be used consistently by local governments across the South Coast and assist them in understanding the actions they need to take (and the knowledge they need to have) to ensure informed direction around effective protection for species at risk and critical habitat for their own lands.
What about some of the other established SCCP programs?
Species at Risk in the Classroom (or SARitc) curriculum is as always free for download! Check out the For Educators tab under Resources on our website to access the curriculum guides, resources for educators or learn about environmental grant opportunities for your school. Teachers, schools and youth groups interested in bringing a conservation scientist into the classroom, opportunities to enhance environmental learning in lesson plans, or planning nature-based outdoor learning events should contact the SCCP’s Special Projects Coordinator Pamela Zevit to find out about costs for in-class support.
The SCCP also continues to offer professional development workshops and guidance for local governments and First Nations seeking to integrate species at risk into policy and practice in their communities. Through a set of modules on species and ecosystems at risk (SEAR) management and best practices local government staff and politicians receive an introduction to SARA, municipal responsibilities, how to identify priority South Coast species at risk and their critical habitat attributes and approaches for protecting and recovering species at risk and their habitat. Availability for training sessions is ongoing and we are happy to customize sessions to meet your unique local needs. Check out our SCCP Support for Local Governments: Policy development and operational training services guide, or contact the SCCP’s instructor for the training sessions, Special Projects Coordinator Pamela Zevit to find out about how we can help you build expertise and capacity within your organization.