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Wilden and OCCP join forces to make native plants accessible for landscaping and research.

On June 7th  Scott Boswell and Tanis Gieselman from the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program met with Karin Eger-Blenk from Blenk Development for a walk through the future Wilden Village site. Wilden, like all of the communities in the Okanagan, is nestled amongst endangered grassland and wetland ecosystems, which are important ecological networks of habitat and migration corridors used by local Painted Turtles, and many other species. The goal of this hike was to identify key conservation areas and species, and discuss opportunities to maximize biodiversity conservation in the future Wilden Village and Market Square. 

45 species of native plants that are of interest for conservation and restoration were identified on this initial walk. Since then, Tanis Gieselman has visited the site six more times, noted 15 more species, and made conservation collections of half of the species. Over 280g of seeds have been collected so far!

Large enough seed collections were made from six species to allow Wilden to have 10% of the collections for use in landscaping, and to provide additional seeds to Wilden residents. 

If you are a Wilden resident, you are welcome to drop in to the Wilden Presentation Centre at 1454 Rocky Point Drive and pick up some free seeds.

Planting native plant seeds supports biodiversity by maintaining grassland habitat throughout the Okanagan Valley. Okanagan grassland plants are adapted to the harsh Okanagan climate, so they require little additional care or water once they are established, and are ideal for water-efficient urban landscaping. Many of these plants are also essential for supporting local species like bees and other wild pollinators, and are in high demand for conservation and restoration initiatives.

Native plant species support wild pollinators throughout the season, in between the limited times when our cherry and apple orchards are blooming, and some wild pollinators even require a particular species of native plant for their survival. Native grasslands support our cattle industry, and provide important winter range for mule deer and bighorn sheep, and even though grasslands cover less than 1% of BC, they support over 30% of our rare and endangered species!

The Okanagan is an important biodiversity hotspot, where the arid grasslands of the south meet the northern forests and create a unique and rich community of life. Including native species in all landscaping can help local species survive as developed areas expand around them.

The remainder of the Wilden native plant seed collections will be archived for conservation and research purposes, and sold to restoration and landscaping projects to support conservation operations and education programs. Tanis facilitates this process as a volunteer through the SeedsCo Conservation Community. OCCP and Wilden will continue to work together to develop a detailed conservation strategy for maintaining native plants and turtles in this community.

The group also discussed opportunities to share information about the local environment and the conservation work in the Wilden neighbourhood to local residents. Karin now receives OCCP’s newsletter, and is interested in sharing stories about local biodiversity in Wilden social media posts and correspondence. OCCP is looking forward to working with Wilden, and other local developers, on their efforts to enhance biodiversity in the Okanagan.