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Researcher seeks to protect where the wild things walk

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UBC research is paving the way for a route that will serve as a pilot project to protect green space and allow wildlife to move throughout the Okanagan Valley.

Kelowna was identified in the 2016 Stats Canada census as one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada. With growth comes development and UBC Professor Lael Parrott says the region is in danger of fragmenting low-elevation ecosystems and losing the habitat and movement routes needed by wildlife, especially on the east side of Okanagan Lake.

UBC research is paving the way for a route that will serve as a pilot project to protect green space and allow wildlife to move throughout the Okanagan Valley.

Kelowna was identified in the 2016 Stats Canada census as one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada. With growth comes development and UBC Professor Lael Parrott says the region is in danger of fragmenting low-elevation ecosystems and losing the habitat and movement routes needed by wildlife, especially on the east side of Okanagan Lake.

“This is the last chance we have to protect these areas which are important for at-risk species and many migratory animals,” says Parrott. “If we develop these areas, wildlife that depend on low-elevation habitats will have no chance of moving north to south.”

Four years ago, Parrott’s team began mapping and computer modelling the Okanagan Mountain to Kalamalka Lake corridor, a route many wildlife species already migrate through. The corridor, a combination of different ecosystems including large tracts of low-elevation grasslands and open woodlands, will be a one kilometre-wide area that will connect the approximately 75 kilometres between the two parks. Parrott notes this has been a collaborative effort including several levels of government and the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program, Regional District of the Central Okanagan, local First Nations, and BC’s Ministry of Agriculture.

 

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Image via University of British Columbia.