British Columbia Conservation Foundation - Surrey office
Protecting Species at Risk on BC's South Coast
While there are many tools available to local governments for protecting species and ecosystems at risk (SEAR), few governments take full advantage of them. The goal of the South Coast Conservation Program's (SCCP) 2013-2014 regional pilot was to create an eco-regional approach to species at risk protection at the local government level, including:
- Providing local governments with a platform for discussing the challenges, opportunities and solutions for integrating SEAR into land use planning;
- Identifying gaps and priorities in SEAR planning on the South Coast and taking action; and
- Addressing the information gaps identified during the dialogue sessions (e.g. the need to amass as many relevant resources as possible in one convenient location).
The project featured a provincial symposium, which brought together 60 delegates from across the province to discuss financial incentives that can be used to help protect SEAR. Fifty-nine individuals from 36 organizations spanning four regional districts learned about species-at-risk considerations, shared challenges and successes, and discussed future priorities.
Delegates were provided with up-to-date conservation approaches, policy and legislative information, and key federal, provincial and non-profit organization contacts. Developing a diverse “community of practice" is central to ensuring participation and long-term buy-in for protecting and conserving the health of natural environments.
The project website includes links to several resources targeted to local government staff and officials, including Local Government Tools Supporting Species and Ecosystems at Risk: A Resource Guide for the South Coast of British Columbia.
Although the SCCP is a relatively young initiative and local governments tend to be slow to change, this project has already influenced land use planning considerations and conservation efforts across BC's South Coast.