Probabilistic mapping of wetland ecosystems and connectivity in the Okanagan Basin to support wetland conservation and restoration
In the Okanagan Basin region of British Columbia, urbanization, agriculture, and land-use change have contributed to extensive wetland loss. Currently, an estimated 1% of historic wetlands remain in the Okanagan which support numerous fauna and flora not found elsewhere in this arid region. However, a single comprehensive inventory of wetlands has not been undertaken in the Okanagan, limiting conservation in the region. The proposed project will map wetlands in the Okanagan by combining Earth Observation satellite data, light detection and ranging (LiDAR), and topographic variables, as well as explore wetland function and ecosystem health based on multispecies connectivity. The research and results will provide baseline information on wetland extent and function which is currently lacking in the Okanagan Basin. The project will consequently provide information critical to help inform regulations and policy to guide land use and wetland conservation developed by government, industry, and First Nation collaborators in the region.