Our watersheds underpin the health of our communities, economies, and ecosystems. With a funding boost from the B.C. provincial government, 61 teams are working across the province to restore the streams, rivers, and lakes we all rely on.
Last year, the B.C. provincial government provided $27 million in economic recovery funding for watershed conservation and restoration, announced in September 2020 as part of the B.C. Economic Recovery Plan. This funding, which is delivered through the Healthy Watersheds Initiative and administered by the Real Estate Foundation of BC, is supporting more than 60 active on-the-ground projects across the province.
Already, the Healthy Watersheds Initiative is having an impact by creating jobs, advancing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and restoring watersheds to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The projects will employ more than 700 people, spurring economic activity and skills development in communities impacted by COVID-19. The teams are working closely with First Nations to select sites, plan work, and follow community protocol. More than one third of the projects are led directly by First Nations or Indigenous organizations.
Project teams are working to protect B.C.’s watersheds in a variety of ways, including restoring rivers and streams, protecting salmon habitat, managing water flows, removing invasive species, collecting water data, and conducting watershed mapping and sustainability planning.
The work of the Healthy Watersheds Initiative supports key aspects of watershed security, and the POLIS team looks forward to continuing to support advocacy and partnerships to build on the success of these projects. Watershed security in B.C. will require long-term funding, a fully implemented B.C. Water Sustainability Act, and a comprehensive approach to watershed governance that ensures communities are supported and have the necessary tools to protect and defend their home waters. This approach to the broader and deeper mandate of ecological governance is at the core of all the work that POLIS advances.