Wetlands including ponds, marshes, swamps, bogs and fens, are extremely important resources for Canadians. These ecosystems provide benefits like clean drinking water, flood and drought relief, recreational opportunities, as well as habitat for wildlife.
Although Canada is estimated to have between 23 to 28 per cent of the world’s wetlands, they are being lost at an alarming rate. In fact, 70 per cent of wetlands have disappeared or have been degraded in settled areas of the country, and more are lost every day.
Wetlands are very rare in the Okanagan, accounting for less than 1% of the land base, and many have been lost due to land use practices. Wetlands function as a haven for wildlife and rare species including Great Basin Spadefoot, painted turtle, and rare plant species. Wetlands also provide ecological services such as filtering runoff and pollutants, recharging groundwater, storing flood and storm water, carbon sequestration, and providing water retention during drought.
Inventory is a key initial step in ecosystem conservation that feeds into subsequent protection, trend monitoring, and restoration initiatives. When integrated with strategic planning and policies, inventory maps act as powerful communications tools that help to synthesize information on watersheds and prioritize sites for restoration and protection.