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Ecology, Economy and Community in the Okanagan

We occupants of the Okanagan are dependent on an elaborate life-support system that maintains the air we breathe, regulates temperature, supplies reserves of food and water and shields us from deadly radiation. This system, provided by nature free of charge, offers a broad array of critical services: purifying the air and water, maintaining soil fertility, decomposing and detoxifying wastes, recycling essential nutrients, stabilizing the climate, protecting us from the sun's ultraviolet rays, mitigating floods and droughts, pollinating our crops and controlling agricultural pests.

The world's soggy realms, called wetlands ­ transitional zones between chronically wet and predominantly dry environments ­ are often considered worthless real estate, yet they filter and clean our water, mitigate the effects of floods, and offer a home to a variety of plants and animals that cannot thrive on dry ground. Although the services afforded by wetlands are generally taken for granted, every wetland acre is more valuable than any other in terms of ecosystem benefits.

Wetlands are biodiversity havens, providing breeding grounds and habitat for a wide variety of birds, fish and other wildlife. Wetlands enhance water quality by filtering out pollutants, sediments and nutrients that overflow a river's banks. They also limit flood damage by providing a buffer that can hold floodwater and delay its return to a river.

Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance
Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance
In October 2011 we produced a preliminary 24-page report outlining our research to date, and our going-forward plans for the project. A PDF version can be downloaded here, and an online-readable version is provided below. This website is an updated version of that report, and we will be actively continuing our documentation and publishing process going forward.
Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance
5000 copies of the report were printed, and inserted in the Making Sense of Change issue of the Next Okanagan journal, information about which is available here.

Wetlands cover about six percent of the Earth's land surface. They come in all shapes and sizes, and have identifiable characteristics, such as the presence of standing water, unique soils formed by the decomposition of plant matter, and vegetation adapted to chronically wet conditions. Simply put, they serve as intermediaries between aquatic and terrestrial realms, sharing some features of each.

The term regenerative describes processes that restore, renew or revitalize their own sources of energy and materials, creating sustainable systems that integrate the needs of society with the integrity of nature.

Regeneration is far more than simple renewal or restoration. It includes three key ideas: a radical change for the better; creation of a new spirit; returning energy to the source. The scale of change required over the next few decades requires profound changes in how we design, construct and inhabit our environments. The challenge is to design ecologically sustainable buildings, landscapes and communities as integrated wholes that reconnect us to a living and beautiful world and awaken an appreciation of what is life-giving. The science of living systems is revealing an understanding of nature as alive, self-organizing, intelligent, conscious or sentient and participatory at all levels.

In an intelligent and purposeful world, we ask not just how do we harvest wood sustainably, but how do we live with the forest in a way that enables the forest to evolve. Working from a living systems perspective shifts the focus of our attention from simply solving today's problems to working to realize the upper limits of creative potential a healthy system is capable of manifesting. This focus builds from an understanding of the unique nature of a community and of the inter-reliance of human and natural systems that create that uniqueness. It can awaken a deep and caring sense of place and thus become the source of a new community spirit that reconciles longstanding deep divisions as people work together to create an increasing vitality, viability and capacity for evolution of the whole.

The Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance was formed to apply the principals of ecological regeneration to the wetlands of the Okanagan Basin, which are the source and heart of the future of human habitation and economy of this area, and which are in desperate need of understanding and regeneration. Our work has only begun.




Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance The
Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance

Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance is a group of progressive citizens, groups, companies, institutions, organizations and communities who want to put nature back into the centre of Okanagan life.

The Alliance was formed to apply the principals of ecology to the wetlands of the Okanagan Basin, which are the source and heart of the future of human habitation and economy of this area, and which are in continuous need of study, understanding and regeneration.

Please contact:
Robert MacDonald, Director
1473 Ethel Street
Kelowna BC V1Y 2X9
Telephone: 250.870.2690
Email: click here


The Partners in the Wetlands Alliance are
  • Okanagan Basin Water Board
  • District of Lake Country: James Baker, Mayor
  • Okanagan Greens: Angela Reid, President
  • Okanagan Institute: Robert MacDonald, Director
  • Okanagan College: Douglas MacLeod, Associate Dean, Science and Technology
  • Community Futures of the Central Okanagan: Larry Widmer, Director
  • Summerhill Organics and Wildcraft: Gabe Cipes, President
  • Okanagan Nation: Chad Eneas, En'owkin Centre
  • Okanagan Network for the Environment: Deb Thorneycroft, Coordinator
  • Aspire Media Works: Geoff Millar, President

    The Alliance welcomes participation from members of the public, as well as from companies, organizations and institutions of all kinds.
     
     
  • Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance
    Okanagan Wetlands Regeneration Alliance

    Published under a Creative Commons copyright. Created, designed and hosted by the Okanagan Institute.