Biodiversity is short for biological diversity, but what does that mean? Biodiversity is the variety of life- the number of species, or simply put: nature. Biodiversity is critically important- it helps through protection of our water and soils, climate stability, as well as flood and fire recovery.
So how many different plants and animals are there in BC? Take a guess!
Maybe you initially thought of all the different kinds of birds, mammals, fish, and reptiles you can find in BC. These animals are called Vertebrates (because they have backbones like us!) and in BC there are over 1,100 vertebrate species!
Then you might have thought of other "weird" animals like snails and worms, or the strange animals from the ocean like clams, jellyfish, or sea cucumbers. These animals are called Invertebrates (because they don't have backbones), and our province is home to an astonishing 50,000-70,000 species of them! Also included in the Invertebrates category are all the insects like beetles, moths, and flies; at least 35,000 different insects live in our province.
Did you forget about plants? There are nearly 2,800 species of Vascular Plants in BC, which are things like trees, grasses, and wildflowers. Mosses, lichens, and fungi are plants too, called Non-Vascular Plants, and over 11,500 species of them have been found in BC so far!
That's it! Have you been adding it up in your head? If you have, you'll have figured out that BC is home to a mind-boggling 85, 000 different plants and animals.
So, how do we protect biodiversity?
The best way to protect biodiversity is to protect habitat. Retain the natural areas on your property, like riparian areas, wetlands, grasslands, and forests. These areas support incredible biodiversity that protect our water, our soils, our climate and even support the insect populations that pollinate agricultural crops. With over 1/3 of the Okanagan-Similkameen landscape being privately owned and managed, Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship is doing exactly that. We support private land owners and managers to conserve nature on their properties.
Photos: V. Blow & L. McKinnon. Estimated species totals taken from www.biodiversitybc.org)