A healthy environment is the foundation for a strong region. That’s why we partner with Basin residents and groups to help them develop and implement projects and initiatives that address environmental priorities. Together, we work to conserve and enhance the natural assets of the region for the benefit of all.
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- If you have an idea that will strengthen environmental well-being, our Environment Grants could help support it.
- If you have an idea that will maintain or enhance grassland resources while meeting conservation, environment and recreation objectives, our Grassland and Rangeland Enhancement Program could help support it.
- If you have an idea that will help protect and enhance fish, wildlife and habitats in and around Koocanusa Reservoir and its tributaries, our Upper Kootenay Ecosystem Enhancement Plan Grants could help support it.
- We support four major Environmental Education programs in the Basin.
- We help groups and organizations (including the Kootenay Conservation Program) conserve land to ensure that current and future generations can enjoy the Basin’s biological diversity and natural heritage.
- We help protect and enhance fish, wildlife and habitats in and around Koocanusa Reservoir and its tributaries through the Upper Kootenay Ecosystem Enhancement Plan.
- We help Basin communities reduce water consumption through Water Smart.
- We support the Columbia Basin Watershed Network, which provides information and educational resources to local watershed groups to promote conservation and sustainability.
- We support the Columbia Basin Water Quality Monitoring Project, which helps community-based watershed groups become better stewards of their local water resources.
- If you need support making your non-profit organization stronger, our Non-profit Advisors Program can help you increase capacity, become more sustainable and become more efficient.
Environment Strategic Plan 2014–2019
Basin Residents Shape Our Delivery of Environmental Benefits
In spring 2013, we began a discussion with Basin* residents about renewing our water and environment strategic plans. Workshops and meetings across the Basin, combined with a Basin-wide survey, generated ideas and recommendations that helped define environmental priorities and shape the goals, objectives and activities in this plan. This Environment Strategic Plan will guide our Environment and Water Initiatives* from 2014 to 2019.
This plan will build community capacity and facilitate the development and implementation of projects and initiatives that will help preserve the natural assets of our region and strengthen our collective ability to address current and future environmental priorities for the benefit of all Basin residents.
*Symbol denotes term defined in the glossary.
How we approach our work
Working Toward Environmental Well-being
At the Trust we envision an environment where varied, connected landscapes and waterways are resilient*, bio-diverse and able to support the human and ecological needs that depend upon them. Our commitment to environmental well-being is rooted in the aspirations of Basin residents:
- Aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems* are diverse, healthy and functioning.
- Watersheds and water sources continue to provide abundant, high-quality water throughout the Basin to serve a variety of human and ecological needs.
- Basin residents have an increased understanding of how they are connected to the natural environment and depend upon it for their health and livelihood, which results in more environmentally aware decisions and actions.
- Residents, communities and organizations have the knowledge, skills and capacity to work effectively and collaboratively to achieve healthy and resilient communities in response to environmental pressures such as a changing climate.
Focusing on Environmental Priorities
We believe we can make the most progress toward environmental well-being by focusing on a few of the most critical environmental priorities. By taking focused steps over the next five years through the implementation of this plan, we will support the achievement of positive long-term outcomes related to ecosystems, water and a changing climate.
These priorities were identified by Basin residents and subject matter experts to ensure the Trust is focusing its resources appropriately, and in ways that will support collaboration with other groups and organizations working on environmental well-being in the Basin. Doing so will leverage our collective efforts and create the greatest opportunities for environmental well-being at individual, community and Basin-wide scales.
We recognize the connection and interdependence of the environment, our society and the economy. This is why we are committed to integrated and collaborative approaches that not only contribute to environmental well-being, but also social and economic well-being.
Goals and objectives: Setting the stage for progress
Five goals support the Trust’s strategic priorities for water and environment and will help focus the Trust’s Environment and Water Initiatives. They are presented here as distinct areas of focus, but the Trust recognizes the goals are intertwined and interdependent, and must be considered together in order to make progress toward environmental well-being. Each goal is supported by a series of objectives and activities that describe how the Trust will support progress toward the goals from 2014 to 2019.
Goal 1: Water
Contribute to safeguarding and enhancing the quality and availability of water in the Basin for a variety of human and ecological needs.
Why focus on water?
Clean, fresh water is essential to every aspect of life in the Columbia River Basin. Despite the apparent wealth of fresh water, increasing human activities, population growth and the projected impacts of climate change are placing pressure on this precious resource. The Trust is committed to supporting efforts that will safeguard and enhance water quality and availability for a wide range of human and ecological needs today and tomorrow. Doing so is essential to maintaining healthy watersheds that meet the needs of communities and support the Basin’s economy.
|1. Strengthen the Basin’s research and monitoring capabilities to identify and evaluate potential threats to water quality and quantity to help guide current and future use of water resources.||
|2. Enhance the capacity of Basin residents to contribute to water and watershed management decisions affecting local water resources.||
|3. Support and facilitate water conservation and source protection efforts to help assure the availability of clean water for human and ecological needs.||
Goal 2: Ecosystems
Strengthen Basin-wide and local efforts to maintain and enhance aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem function and native biodiversity*.
Why focus on ecosystems?
Ecosystems must be able to function and adapt so the diversity of life in the Basin will endure and essential goods and services* provided by ecosystems continue to support a high quality of life for Basin residents. In an era when changing temperatures and precipitation patterns have begun to impact human communities and disrupt the natural habitats of many species already threatened, maintaining and enhancing ecosystem functionality and biodiversity is critically important. Through collaboration, partnerships and project funding, the Trust’s activities will support efforts to ensure the region’s native biodiversity is able to adapt and thrive over time.
|1. Strengthen efforts to maintain and enhance ecosystems and species of conservation concern.||
|2. Contribute to scientifically sound land conservation and stewardship on private lands.||
|3. Help reduce the threat of invasive species to terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.||
Goal 3: Resilience* in a changing climate
Enhance Basin-wide efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for and adapt to changing climatic conditions.
Why focus on a changing climate?
Our climate is changing: temperature and precipitation increases are impacting environmental conditions including glacial runoff, water temperatures, stream flows, freeze/thaw cycles, floods, droughts and wildfires. Together, these changes underscore the need to prepare for and adapt to a future climate that will be different than what we have experienced before. Building awareness, providing information, supporting science and developing tools to support mitigation* and adaptation* at individual and Basin-wide scales is essential to assisting Basin residents and communities reduce greenhouse gas emissions and become more resilient to our changing climate.
|1. Improve information and awareness within households, communities and businesses about climate change impacts, costs, greenhouse gas emissions and the economic, social and environmental benefits of energy efficiency.||
|2. Support communities to develop and implement climate change mitigation and resilience strategies.||
Goal 4: Environmental education and stewardship
Engage Basin residents in opportunities for lifelong environmental education* and stewardship that inspires ecologically informed decisions and actions while developing a deep sense of place.
Why focus on environmental education and stewardship?
Increasing environmental awareness through a variety of learning opportunities will encourage ecologically informed decisions and actions. This awareness is also critical to developing a deep sense of place that fosters stewardship in children and adults alike. By focusing on school- and community-based learning, the Trust can help engage residents of all ages in lifelong opportunities to develop an understanding of the natural environment and support residents to become active stewards. Doing so will require innovation and collaboration to harness the power of human actions and decision making to enhance the resiliency* of our region.
|1. Nurture in Basin kindergarten to grade 12 students an appreciation of the natural world and empower their development as environmental stewards.||
|2. Support community-based environmental education that inspires Basin residents of all ages to be environmental stewards.||
Goal 5: Environmental capacity building to strengthen communities
Support communities and organizations in developing and maintaining the capacity to effectively address Basin-wide and local environmental challenges.
Why focus on building environmental capacity?
Responding to the Basin’s environmental challenges will take a commitment to collaboration by communities and a range of organizations with the capacity and skills to address issues related to ecosystems, water, a changing climate, environmental awareness and stewardship. The Trust works with a wide range of partners to help fulfill its mission. Helping to equip our partners with the resources and organizational capacity to address a range of environmental challenges today in preparation for tomorrow is vital.
|1. Help strengthen the capacity of organizations and communities contributing to environmental well-being.||
Basin: The portion of the Columbia River system in Canada that the Trust calls the “Trust Region” and which is referenced in its mandate. View a map of the Basin.
Biological diversity/biodiversity: The variety of living organisms, and the ways in which these life forms organize themselves (genes, populations, species, communities, ecosystems, biomes), and the ways in which they interact with the physical environment and one another. Since biodiversity plays an important part in ecosystem functioning, conserving biodiversity must include paying attention to the three components of biodiversity—composition, structure and function—since these components interact to maintain biological diversity.
Climate change adaptation: Anticipating climatic changes and developing strategies to reduce the unwanted or undesirable impacts of those changes and optimize the desirable changes.
Climate change mitigation: Efforts that reduce greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change.
Climate resilience: The capacity to absorb current and future climate stresses while maintaining functions, structures and systems.
Ecosystems: A community of living organisms (plants, animals, fungi and microbes) in conjunction with the abiotic (non-living) components of their environment (such as, air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system. A healthy ecosystem is where the composition and abundance of biotic and abiotic components, as well as the linkages between them, are effectively functioning to exchange energy, cycle nutrients and respond to changes in the environment.
Ecosystem goods and services: The benefits arising from the ecological functions of healthy ecosystems that accrue to all living organisms, including humans. There is a growing recognition of the importance to society that ecological goods and services provide for health, social, cultural and economic needs. Examples of ecological goods include clean air and abundant fresh water. Examples of ecological services include purification of air and water, maintenance of biodiversity, decomposition of wastes, soil and vegetation generation and renewal, pollination of crops and natural vegetation, groundwater recharge through wetlands, seed dispersal, greenhouse gas mitigation and aesthetically pleasing landscapes.
Environmental education: Organized efforts to teach about how the natural environment functions and, in particular, how human beings can manage their behaviour in order to live sustainably.
Environment and Water Initiatives: The Trust initiatives that will be guided by the 2014–2019 Environment Strategic Plan to support environmental well-being in the Basin.
Environmental well-being: A state when biological systems remain diverse, healthy and productive over time, and allow for the survival and flourishing of humans and other organisms. It is vital to our ability to thrive in human society today yet leave resources for the future. It reflects awareness, a deep sense of place and appreciation of how we can influence, interact with and support our surroundings. It is incorporated with all aspects of social and economic well-being because it responds to our continual interaction with our physical surroundings and our ability to adapt to environmental changes.
Securement: A way of legally conserving private land with important biodiversity, ecological functions and/or agriculture and forestry value that contribute to the long-term environmental health and sustainability of a region through fee-simple purchasing of land, acquiring the title to lands through donation or holding conservation easements and agreements that restrict certain types of land use.
Resilience/resilient: Resilience is the capacity of a system, such as an ecosystem, to tolerate disturbance without collapsing into a qualitatively different state that is controlled by a different set of processes. A resilient system can withstand shocks and rebuild itself when necessary. Resilience in social systems has the added capacity of humans to anticipate and plan for the future.
Stewardship (environmental stewardship): The responsible use and protection of the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices to maintain ecosystem health, safeguard biodiversity and ensure the availability of the land and water resources upon which society depends. It embraces an ethic that land, water and wildlife are entrusted to our care, and that it is our collective responsibility to pass onto our children—and generations to come—a healthy and diverse environment.
Program Coordinator, Environment