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Keeping Muskwa-Kechika Wild!

 

Y2Y’s new cutting-edge study gives land managers the science-based information to protect Canada’s wildest area in the face of budget cuts, development pressures and most importantly, climate change.

M-K landscape
Muskwa-Kechika Landscape - Photo Credit: Wayne Sawchuk

 

British Columbia’s (B.C.) Muskwa-Kechika Management Area (M-K) is an area roughly the size of Ireland. It was created in 1998 with the latest thinking in land use management, and is comprised of parks and protected areas, as well as management zones where extractive development is allowed under stringent, best-practice standards. Members of Y2Y were involved throughout the process.

“Fifteen years later, the M-K is still the wildest area in the Rocky Mountains,” explains Wendy Francis, Program Director at Y2Y and one of the contributors to this new study. “It is one of the Yellowstone to Yukon region’s great success stories, but new realities are forcing us all to rethink the basic elements of land management.”

“Under a changing climate,” describes Dr. Jim Pojar, one of the report’s lead scientists, “northern B.C. can expect major transformations in biodiversity on land, in water, and across all levels of species and ecosystems. It could have such a dramatic effect on the types of plants that grow that the terms ‘alpine’ and ‘boreal forest’ may no longer apply.”

Y2Y’s main goal in the northern portion of the Yellowstone to Yukon region is to maintain the protection of the vast networks of intact landscapes that already exist. Keeping the M-K intact is critical to achieving this goal.

M-K Moose
The study points out areas outside protected landscapes that are in greater need of protection and it also suggests where development proposals should be assessed very carefully so that negative impacts on wildlife movement, biodiversity and rare ecosystems can be avoided. Photo Credit: Wayne Sawchuk
The Muskwa-Kechika Biodiversity Conservation and Climate Change Assessment is meant to advise the Muskwa-Kechika Advisory Board, which in turn may make recommendations to the B.C. government on proposed actions. Other land managers and levels of government, such as First Nations and communities, who may be developing land use plans, as well as resource and tourism businesses, may also find its conclusions relevant.

The strategy outlined in the report suggests that the more variety a landscape has today, the more variety of life is likely to be found there in the future,” explains Juri Peepre, Muskwa-Kechika Project Manager for Y2Y. “Most importantly, this study provides new maps and information to advise management practices that support the protection of biodiversity.”

M-K ReportSpecifically, the report outlines two very important pieces of information. First, it points out areas outside protected landscapes that are in greater need of protection because of their importance to wildlife, their biological diversity, or their rarity. Secondly, it suggests where development proposals should be assessed very carefully so that negative impacts on wildlife movement, biodiversity and rare ecosystems can be avoided.

The study, which was commissioned by the Muskwa-Kechika Advisory Board and completed in collaboration with the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-B.C. Chapter and Gregory Kehm Associates, was released last month. Y2Y looks forward to reporting on how the report is received, and if its strategies will be implemented.

Click here to read a two-page background of the report. For a short summary click here and for the full report please click here.

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