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2010 Report: BC’s Peace River Valley and Climate Change

Our second report focuses on the positive role the Peace River Valley plays in climate change and the potential negative greenhouse gas effects of Site C. Specifically, the report details the role of the Peace River Valley’s forests and agricultural land in climate change mitigation and adaption.

Download the report here: BC’s Peace River Valley and Climate Change (PDF 2 MG File)

The Peace River Valley plays an important role in climate change mitigation and adaptation for three major reasons:

1) the vast amounts of carbon stored in the Peace River Valley’s plants and soils contribute to the mitigation of global climate change;

2) the unique biodiversity and habitat corridors of the Peace River Valley play a major role in facilitating the ability of the region’s ecosystems to adapt to climate change; and

3) the unique agricultural resources of the Peace River Valley have a great potential to help BC in adapting to climate change.

All three of these attributes of the Peace River Valley are threatened by the potential construction of a hydroelectric facility known as Site C.

The Peace River Valley’s 4913 ha of lowland forest which could potentially be destroyed by Site C store approximately 2.5 million tonnes of carbon; an ecological service which has been valued by previous studies at over $2000 per ha per year, for a total of $9.8 million per year.

The Peace River Valley contains a substantial amount of exceptional agricultural land, especially on its lower terraces. The Peace River Valley’s climate is among the best in Canada for agriculture. Less than 1% of Canada’s total land base has the Class 1 climate of the Peace River Valley. The valley contains the only Class 1 climate in Northern BC.

British Columbia, like much of the world, can be expected to experience food security related issues due to climate change. One way in which the Province can significantly increase its food security is by increasing its food self-reliance…  It is likely that a future vegetable industry in the Peace River Valley would provide a significant source of local food for the people of Northern BC. Not only would this help satisfy increasing consumer demands for locally produced foods, but it would also lead to significant environmental, health and economic benefits which are known to be associated with local food systems.

BC Hydro has estimated that Site C’s reservoir could result in a net GHG impact which is equivalent to approximately 147,000 tonnes of CO2″/year. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of approximately 36,000 vehicles in the Lower Mainland.

 

2009 Report: The Living Peace River Valley

Our first report was an overview of the natural and cultural values of the Peace River valley.

Download the report here: The Living Peace River Valley (PDF 2 MG File)

The Peace River Valley in northern British Columbia is one of the most ecologically and culturally rich regions of Canada. Set within a wild boreal forest landscape, it provides critical habitat for wildlife, as well as a beautiful and economically viable location for people. This report, sponsored collaboratively by West Moberly First Nations and the Peace Valley Environment Association, is an overview of the ecological and cultural values of the Peace River Valley. It is meant to provide information and context for anyone involved in sustainability and decision-making for the region, namely natural resource managers, environmental agencies, tourism managers, recreational visitors, and local residents.

You are welcome to review the It’s Our Valley Presentation (Spring 2009) which has many of our research findings included.

More 2009 Report Excerpts:

The Peace River Valley is known as the “breadbasket of northern British Columbia” because it is the only area north of the Okanagan that can support such large sustenance crops and livestock herds. Approximately 75 percent of the land in the valley is considered arable for vegetable, cereal, oilseed, and forage crops. A large portion of the soil, especially near the Halfway River, is classified as Class 1, which is the highest rating, with no constraints to agriculture … With the climate changing, it is possible that the focus will be on the Peace River Valley as an ideal agricultural location since the climate in the valley region will likely be better than more arid areas of the south. With the current interest in food security, a relatively remote region of British Columbia able to produce food for residents and export becomes very important.

 

The Peace River valley plays a positive role in climate change. The valley’s intact ecosystem acts as a buffer to climate change effects and its forests act as efficient carbon sinks. If dammed and flooded, the valley would release large amounts carbon and methane into the atmosphere, and stop its function as a climate change mitigator. In fact, another hydroelectric dam on the Peace River should not be considered a “green” or “clean” source of energy, as it would contribute negatively to climate change by destroying an ecosystem and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

 

The undisturbed land on the islands and on the south banks of the Peace are irreplaceable in terms of providing wild space for animals and as corridors. Important features in corridors include wetlands, rivers, riverbanks, and forest cover, all of which the Peace River Valley has to offer. The valley provides a wide, long, healthy green space for wildlife to thrive. It plays an incredibly important role in connecting southern habitats with northern ones, and, according to the Yellowstone to Yukon initiative, provides the “backbone of a natural network” that links wildlife in the Peace with Rocky Mountain ecosystems to the west.

 

People have lived in the Peace River Valley since time immemorial. In centuries past, people inhabited the Peace River Valley because they could find food season by season, hunt and fish, access water and building materials, and collect plants for food, medicine, and crafts … Over time, these capacities enabled First Nations and other recent residents to trap and trade furs, raise cattle and other animals, and grow foods in the rich valley soils. Residents of the Valley continue to live here because of the natural resources. However, there is a unique relationship that exists between people and the Peace River Valley. Many people draw inspiration from its beauty and depth. Others appreciate the natural services and scenic landscape it provides. Others have a spiritual relationship that enables them to understand their role in the world.

 

The Peace River Valley draws people due to its high potential for recreational activities. Hiking, swimming, camping, hunting, trapping, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, river boating, horseback riding, geocaching, backcountry camping, birding, and photography are some of the more popular activities in the region … As well, the area is known as one of the best places in the province (and in Canada) for viewing wildlife. It is common to see deer, moose, bears, wolves, bighorn sheep, eagles, osprey, and other animals that are otherwise not too easy to see.

 

The proposed Site C dam would cause significant ecological and socioeconomic losses. Thousands of hectares of agricultural land would be flooded, more would be lost to slumping and sloughing of the banks, and erosion and siltation will dramatically increase. Productive forestry lands will be flooded or cut for road construction, thousands of hectares of wildlife habitat (including important wintering and calving sites for ungulates) would be lost, and local climate will be altered. Traditional lands and hundreds of archaeological sites would be flooded and/or destroyed, First Nations’ hunting lands would be lost, river-based recreation would be changed dramatically, and several residents would lose their homes and livelihoods.

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2 Responses

  1. […] “BC’s Peace River Valley and Climate Change” is now available for download at the Its Our Valley website. A press release will be available shortly. […]

  2. […] yourself further on the facts, issues and potential impacts of Site C on our precious valley.  Click here to view the Climate Change Document found on the informative website, It’s Our Vall…   LikeBe the first to like this […]

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