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.

The goal of this project is to determine the locations and make maps of biodiversity hotspots in

the Columbia Wetlands and the Columbia Valley, which the CWSP will use to enhance the conservation of species at risk (SAR) and important focal species, protect their habitats and important landscape corridors.

The entire Columbia Wetlands are important habitat to fish, wildlife and biodiversity of the region, however, specific wetland areas may be critically important to different species at different times. That is, there are biodiversity hotspots which are particularly important, some of which may provide linkages to other areas, up riparian corridors and across mountain ranges and into other areas of the Columbia Basin. To sustain the ecological functioning of the upper Columbia watershed, we need to identify and protect wetlands and the most important habitats and linkage areas as well.

While approximately 60% of the Columbia wetlands are protected from direct human disturbance, about 40% are not protected. Wildlife species and controls on wetland processes are not protected from activities adjacent to the wetlands, nor are the wetlands protected from losses of water and climate effects from global warming.

The bench lands and watersheds adjacent to the wetlands are mostly private land and have very little protection, and in many cases have not been identified as important or sensitive habitat. The CWSP have identified >40 animal SAR & concern that utilize the Columbia Wetlands and Valley as habitat & corridors. These include SARA species: 6 Endangered, 6 Threatened, & 9 Concern; & an additional 10 red listed & 10 blue listed species in the BC provincial species listings.

This project will provide validated maps of the wetland ecosystems and habitats, identify locations and habitats of plant and animal species at risk and concern and provincially important wildlife, and locations of biodiversity hotspots.