British Columbia

Scientists urge huge B.C. land preservation

A coalition of environmental groups is calling on the B.C. government to conserve 50 per cent of the province's land base to fight climate change.

A coalition of environmental groups is calling on the B.C. government to conserve 50 per cent of the province's land base to fight climate change.

Seven B.C.-based groups — including the David Suzuki Foundation, ForestEthics and West Coast Environmental Law Society — were preparing to release a report Thursday. The report concludes that a 50-per-cent conservation target gives plants and animals the opportunity to survive and adapt to the ravages of climate change.

The report is the work of B.C. ecologist and forester Jim Pojar, who has studied the B.C. ecosystem for more than 30 years.

"A minimum conservation target of 50 per cent is what's necessary to give our plants and animals a fighting chance to adapt while also keeping and drawing more carbon out of the atmosphere so that over time, we can slow and reduce climate change," said Pojar in a statement released by the environmental groups.

Currently, about 12.5 per cent of B.C.'s land base is under some form of provincial, federal or local park or conservation designation.

John Yap, B.C.'s Climate Action Minister of State, could not be reached immediately for comment.

The 50-per-cent number includes expansion of current parks and protected areas, and restoration of other areas, the report said. It said that would still leave room for sustainable resource development in British Columbia.

The report was to be accompanied by a letter to Premier Gordon Campbell signed by nine leading environmentalists calling on the province to move quickly to integrate nature conservation into its climate strategy.

"The continued and potentially dire impacts of climate change can only be avoided or forestalled if we act now to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to slow the rate of ecosystem degradation," said the one-page letter to Campbell.

University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver, who has provided climate advice to the B.C. government, is one of the people who signed the letter.

The B.C. government's climate action plan seeks to reduce carbon emissions by one-third by 2020.

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