UBC experts to speak at environment and national park public forum

Biology, geography and sustainability experts from UBC Okanagan will join ecologists, park planners, and other experts from across the country at a wide-ranging environmental forum in Naramata on April 16 and 17.

The inaugural South Okanagan Similkameen Environmental Issues, Research and Education Forum will examine the role research and education might play in a national park in the South Okanagan Similkameen region.

"One of the most significant environmental issues in the South Okanagan Similkameen region is the possible establishment of a national park, currently undergoing a feasibility study by Parks Canada and the B.C. Ministry of the Environment," says Dr. John Theberge. Renowned wildlife ecologists now living in Oliver, Dr. Theberge and his wife Mary Theberge are co-chairs of the forum's organizing team.

"One important responsibility of national parks is in research and education, particularly related to regional environmental issues that may compromise ecosystem values," says Dr. Theberge. "This is the first of annual or biannual events that will both provide better public understanding of environmental issues and solutions, and bring environmental practitioners together for discussion, debate and cooperation."

The public forum is intended to bring international, national and local experts together to explore environmental issues such as climate warming, water shortages, rapid population growth and development. Several members of UBC Okanagan's faculty are featured as speakers or presenting research posters:

  • "SARAHS: An interdisciplinary approach to studying threatened populations and their habitats," by Dr. Dan Durall, Assoc. Prof. of Biology and Physical Geography and Director of the Centre for Species at Risk and Habitat Studies (SARAHS).
  • "Land cover and environmental change in the Southern Okanagan: Protecting natural landscapes and biodiversity," by Dr. Mike Pidwirny, Assoc. Prof. of Physical Geography.
  • "Integrated community based tourism in parks and protected areas: assessing possibilities in the South Okanagan Lower Similkameen," by Dr. Donna Senese, Assoc. Prof. of Geography.
  • Dr. Fes de Scally, Assoc. Prof. of Geography and Interim Director of the newly created Okanagan Sustainability Institute at UBC Okanagan, will present a research poster, "Understanding the Impacts of Transportation Corridors on the Ecological Functioning of High-Mountain Fans: Lessons from National Parks in Canada and New Zealand."
  • Laura Hooker, Assoc. Prof. of Biology, presents a poster about "Preliminary Investigations into the Microbial Geochemistry of Saline Lakes in the Okanagan Valley."
  • Dr. Rosalind Warner, Sessional Instructor in Political Science, presents a research poster on "Natural Destinations: The Culture of Nature Tourism and Protected Areas Governance in Canada."
  • Students in Donna Senese's Geography 434 (Geography of Tourism Development) course will present a research poster detailing the findings of their project, "Making Tourism Work in the South Okanagan Lower Similkameen."

The forum takes place at the Naramata Centre for Continuing Education, in Naramata. More information and registration forms can be found on the Forum website: http://www.ubc.ca/okanagan/natparksedforum or call the Naramata Centre, 250.493.5530.

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