In the dry Okanagan and Similkameen valleys, wetland and riparian areas are at a premium. Over 85% of Okanagan and Similkameen wetlands have been lost to channelization and agricultural and urban development.
Wetlands are lands that are saturated with or covered by shallow water for all or part of the year, creating wet soils and supporting water-loving plants.
Wetlands vary, from very large complexes connected by streams, to small wetlands that lie in poorly drained depressions in the landscape, to fringes along the edges of lakes and rivers.
Wetlands provide critical habitat for Okanagan wildlife and provide many benefits to humans as well.
WETLANDS HAVE SUPER POWERS!
Wetlands are some of the most productive ecosystems on earth.
Wetlands are natural filters, filtering water before it returns to our rivers, streams and lakes.
Wetlands are great sponges! A 1-acre wetland can absorb up to 6-million litres (3 Olympic swimming pools), which provides great flood protection.
Wetlands recharge groundwater and provide a buffer against drought.
Wetlands help regulate temperatures, cooling in the summer and warming in the winter.
Wetlands are some of the most undervalued weapons we have against climate change! Wetlands are extremely efficient at pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
WHO LIVES HERE?
There are many kinds of wetlands, including ponds, marshes, swamps, bogs and fens. While some wetlands have surface water year-round, many only have visible water for short periods of time.
I'm just one person. What can I do?
The best way to protect a wetland or riparian area on your property or in your community is to establish a buffer or strip of native plants between the wetland and any nearby land use such as crops, pasture or other development.
A buffer will help to:
Control erosion and add to the stability of croplands
Trap snow, adding further moisture to your agricultural fields by releasing it slowly.
Protect adjacent areas from flooding by acting as a sponge
Trap sediments, pollutants and excess nutrients, reducing contamination of water sources.
Create a barrier for invasive plants such as puncturevine and knapweed which could otherwise reduce crop quantity and quality
Provide habitat for beneficial insects which can aid in pest control and pollination in agricultural settings
Read about a wetland restoration project that Wildlife Habitat Stewards, Wayne and Wendie Radies, partnered with OSS to complete and get inspired!
Contact Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship to learn more about the wetlands on your property and in your community.