Awarded to the Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners to determine the locations and develop maps of biodiversity hotspots in the Columbia Wetlands and Columbia Valley, which will be used to prioritize and enhance the conservation of species at risk and important focal species.

PROPONENT: Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners (CWSP)

DESCRIPTION: While approximately 60% of the Columbia Wetlands are protected from direct human disturbance, about 40% are not protected. In 2020, the Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners (CWSP) completed a Literature Review of Species at Risk in Columbia Valley, identifying 65 species at risk in the valley – far more than previously realised. CWSP found that 35 bird species, 2 amphibians, 2 reptiles, 9 mammals, 7 vascular plants and 21 ecological communities are at risk in the valley. This project (done in collaboration with Kootenay Connect and other funders) has provided maps of the wetland ecosystems and habitats, identified locations and habitats of species at risk (SAR) and concern, provincially important wildlife habitats and corridors, and biodiversity hotspots in upland and riparian areas. CWSP has started to prioritise and evaluate which areas are the most important parcels to focus on for conservation, and will begin having discussions with stakeholders to initiate conservation actions to protect those habitats.

OBJECTIVE: The project has three main objectives: 1) Landscape scale conservation: Work with the Shuswap Band, local partners, governments and land owners to initiate conservation actions to protect important biodiversity hotspots in the riparian and upland habitats of Columbia Valley & Wetlands; 2) Regional scale conservation: Identify hydrologically vulnerable wetlands and those impacted by beaver activities to determine where to mitigate the impacts of climate change and drought; 3) Local conservation actions to enhance western painted turtles: Work with local volunteers to install basking logs, protect nesting areas and install signage to enhance and protect habitat of the western painted turtle in three new wetlands.

PHOTO: Larry Halverson