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LETTER: CRD parks strategy needs course correction

The Capital Regional District’s extensive park system of protected forest areas is crucial to the survival of our region’s biodiversity. It also plays a critical role in sequestering CO2 and this will be maximized only by maintaining the biodiversity of these forest ecosystems including the large predators which are keystone 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 with a planetary course correction. Anyone with children or grandchildren must shudder to think of what the alternative will be for them on our current course.

In the 17 years since the major expansion of the regional parks system through the Sea to Sea Greenbelt Initiative next to nothing has been done to prioritize the protection of this irreplaceable ecological asset. A recent staff report entitled Ecological Values and Biodiversity in Regional Parks bears this out. We need our own course correction here in the CRD.

If we are sincere about our climate change emergency declaration with respect to our parks then every park management policy and action must be viewed and implemented through a climate emergency lens. We must increase the capacity of the Park Land Acquisition Fund and ensure that all new acquisitions prioritize lands that link and buffer existing parklands to protect and enlarge core wildlife habitats and increase biodiversity resilience.

We must provide adequate funding and staffing to carry out the kind of comprehensive plan proposed but shelved in 2010, including a conservation strategy, baseline ecological inventories, a state of the parks assessment and an ecological monitoring program and we must work in collaboration with Indigenous communities. We must acquire undeveloped lands adjacent to parks suitable to buffer park core wildlife habitat and provide recreational space and establish a scientific advisory group of conservation biologists to inform best parks management decisions.

I hope that in the obvious urgency of our times we will at last make real the protection of nature and the conservation of biodiversity in our parks as the top priority promised.

Alison Spriggs

Elders Council for Parks in BC

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