From wide-roaming carnivores to below-ground fungal networks, ecosystems are deeply connected. This connectivity means that when one element is disturbed or degraded, a cascade of effects can be felt throughout the system. Yet, land-use decisions are often made without consideration of cumulative impacts on ecosystem health. As a result, habitats are fragmented and ecosystems thrown out of balance.
This is absolutely the case in the Capital Regional District located on the southeast coast of Vancouver Island–and indeed throughout the range of Coastal Douglas-fir and Coastal Western Hemlock ecological communities characteristic to Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and portions of the lower mainland. These areas are the most heavily settled in British Columbia with the highest rates of land conversion, despite being some of the most biodiverse and productive landscapes in the province. As climate impacts become increasingly prolific, it will be essential for policymakers to recognize that healthy communities cannot exist without the support of healthy, intact ecosystems.
In an effort to provide decision-makers with access to the scientific information necessary to make well-informed and holistic policy choices, Raincoast Conservation Foundation, the Coexisting with Carnivores Alliance, and University of Victoria’s Applied Conservation Science Lab are partnering with Dr. Cole Burton of the Department of Forest Resources Management at the University of British Columbia to host a publicly accessible educational lecture series. This initiative has been generously funded by UBC’s Community-University Engagement fund.
Every Thursday between May 12th and June 9th, our group of collaborators will be joined by a panel of three experts for a virtual educational session exploring the landscape-level impacts of human decision-making. Topics will include:
- Session one (May 12): Connecting over Carnivores: The role of carnivores in maintaining climate stability in coastal BC
- Session two (May 19): Fungi and plant diversity: Maintaining abundance in coastal forests
- Session three (May 26): Fostering forest resilience in the climate change era
- Session four (June 2): Connectivity conservation
- Session five (June 9): Recreation & conservation: The balancing act
Uniquely, following the virtual education series, we will host an in-person Solutions Session, Emceed by Dr. Andy MacKinnon, on June 23th at the University of Victoria. We will bring together policymakers, scientists and community members for an afternoon-long thinktank aimed at strategizing for stronger environmental protection policy within target ecosystems. This event will be live streamed to ensure it is accessible to those who may not be able to attend in person.
By making science accessible and providing opportunities to engage with experts and policy-makers, we hope that these sessions will empower community members to participate in local decision-making thus contributing to the “culture of conservation” our project partners are working together to encourage.
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