Up above the valley-bottom shrublands, the mountains of the Okanagan and Similkameen are covered in open pine and fire forests. This forest habitat is critical in supporting hundreds of different species of plants, animals, and insects. In addition to their beauty, these forests provide us with food, renewable timber, and places for recreation. It is important we treat our forests with respect to ensure these benefits can continue for years to come. Only about 20 percent of the dry forests of the Okanagan and Similkameen remain as intact habitat, with remaining forests having often been degraded due to urban development and agricultural conversion. Fire suppression efforts often result in dense, unhealthy forests as well, so while it is important to conserve forest areas, preservation without regular fires or other thinning techniques does not always result in healthy forests.
What can forests do for you?
Large trees like Ponderosa pines have extensive root systems running through the ground which stabilizes slopes and prevent soil erosion
It has been scientifically proven that being in nature, forests especially, creates feelings of calm and reduces levels of stress hormones.
Trees will absorb many tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year and give us oxygen in return. At the same time, they also clean pollutants from the air
You can help your local forests!
Forests help clean our water. Soils and roots absorb and hold onto pollutants as water flows through the ground, keeping them from contaminating lakes, creeks, and aquifers (natural basins of water underground)
Ponderosa Pine bark contains vanillin, the compound used to make vanilla flavouring. Smell the bark on a hot day
and you'll see!
Did You Know?
Be sure to practice responsible recreation when enjoying the outdoors. Never leave a campfire
unattended and avoid creating new tent sites, which destroys understory vegetation. Be sure to
pack out every piece of garbage and always stay on trails when hiking, biking, and ATVing.
Try and help control the spread of invasive species. Check your boots, your clothes, your gear, and your pets (if you are bringing them) before and after you go, removing any seeds or bits of vegetation and throwing them in the garbage. Invasive plants aggressively push native species out of the way and disrupt the natural balance between them, which affects the local wildlife that use the area.
If it's safe to do so, always keep dead trees standing upright. They can remain stable for several decades 40 years and are critical in providing food and shelter for dozens and dozens of local wildlife species.