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Human Settlement

 

Human settlement is a land use resulting from people coming together to live in or inhabit an area. Indigenous communities have inhabited the area we know today as British Columbia for more than 10 000 years.

Hundreds of Indigenous communities thrived throughout BC with their own language, culture, and traditions. Permanent Indigenous settlements are commonly dated back to about 5,000 years ago.

 

In the 1700’s, First Nations societies made contact with Spanish and British explorers.

The explorers began to set up forts for trading fur and other goods in places like Fort St. James, Fort Kamloops, and Fort Victoria.

Rapid growth of human settlement occurred during the two gold rushes of the mid-1800s as thousands of prospectors, merchants, and pioneers arrived from around the world. Towns and agricultural settlements grew along the Fraser River.

In some communities, after local resources were depleted, everyone left, leaving behind what we know today as Ghost...

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Natural Landscapes

 

BC’s physical and biological landscapes are exceptionally diverse and complex. Physical forces like plate tectonics have combined with climate to create an intricate network of mountains, plateaus, valleys, canyons and floodplains that
support an extremely wide range of ecosystems.

Plate Tectonics

Natural landscapes are shaped in part by the physical elements of the non-living surface of the earth. At a very large scale, massive rigid plates that are constantly on the move cover the earth’s surface. BC is part ofis part of the North American plate, which is interacting with the Juan de Fuca plate, the Explorer, Plate and the Pacific Plates.

 BC’s physical landscape has been, and continues to be shaped by its position on the East side of the Pacific Ocean. Over geologic time, complex plate tectonic processes have moved and “glued on” fragments of the earth’s crust, called Terrane’s, to the West coast of the...

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Mammal Habitat

 

British Columbia has the highest mammal diversity n in Canada. 137 native species of mammals live here including 30 in the ocean. 

Threats to land mammals include habitat loss from cities & agriculture, forestry, insects & disease, flooding for hydroelectric dams, and roads.

Threats to marine mammals include collisions with ships, toxic chemicals, sound and light disturbance, entanglement with fishing gear, and declining food availability.

Keystone species have an important role in their ecosystem like the keystone in an arch. 

If a keystone species is not doing well, it’s a sign that other parts of the ecosystem are depleted or not healthy.

Let’s look a little closer at 2 of BC’s Keystone mammal species: grizzly bears and killer whales.

According to the BC Government, there are about 15,000 Grizzly bears in British Columbia3—which is about 25% of all Grizzlies remaining in North America

• Biologists have identified 56 different...

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Fish Habitat

 

British Columbia is home to 476 native fish species, many that are not found anywhere else in the world.  409 of these or 86% are classified as “marine” species meaning they live in saltwater while the other 14% are freshwater species.

Some of these fish spend parts of their life-cycles in both freshwater and saltwater – like salmon species who reproduce in fresh water but spend most of their lives in the ocean.  We call these species anadromous fish. 

 

Did you know that BC’s waters are home to several species of sharks?  

BC is also home for sturgeons that live to be over 100yrs old!  

BC provides a wide range of fish habitat for fish to move through including streams, rivers, lakes, floodplains, estuaries, intertidal areas and the open ocean! 

BC’s lakes are generally classified as Oligotrophic, Mesotrophic or Eutrophic.  

Oligotrophic lakes are deep, cold lakes, with low nutrient levels, rocky or sandy...

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Climate Change

 

The earth’s climate is continually changing – and this is a natural process. Ice sheets have advanced and retreated across earth many times. About 12,000 years ago an ice sheet over 1km thick covered most of BC. 

 

 

( Reference) Ice Sheet clip (author is Arthur Dyke) http://csdms.colorado.edu/wiki/Movie:Laurentide_Ice_Sheet

What is climate?  Climate describes weather conditions over a long period of time.  It’s the overall long-term picture of temperature, precipitation, wind and other weather conditions for a region. This graph shows the average the average monthly minimum and maximum temperature and precipitation at Kelowna.  This is considered the climate of the region. Climate is influenced by the oceans, mountains, elevation and how far north or south we are from the equator.

 

Climate is different than weather.  Weather is local and temporary.  It’s how the atmosphere is behaving at a particular time in a...

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Ecological Goods & Services

 

Ecological Goods & Services are the benefits that humans get from ecosystems such as clean water and air. Examples of ecological goods produced from ecosystems are food , fibre , and fresh water.

Examples of ecological services produced from ecosystems are climate regulation, storing carbon, pollination , beautiful viewscapes, and great places for recreation.

Consider a wetland like a Marsh, a Swamp, or a Bog. What services do wetlands provide us?

Wetlands act like sponges: they absorb water during times of high rainfall or flooding, and then slowly release it as the land dries out. So one thing wetlands can do is help to slow down the movement of water into rivers and this can reduce the risk of flash floods. 

Remember the hydrograph from the watershed video? Flood damage is often caused by peak water flows. Wetlands absorb water and can help to decrease the height of the peak. In dry periods, wetlands slowly release the water they store back into the environment.

Wetlands...

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GDP - Gross Domestic Product

 

GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product. GDP is one way we measure our economy and it is defined as the value of all the goods (stuff) and services (stuff we do) that are produced in a region over a certain amount of time. It is common to measure GDP using dollars / year. In BC we measure GDP in Canadian Dollars.

Economists say the economy is growing if GDP is larger this period than it was in the last period. If GDP stays the same they describe the economy as stagnant, and if GDP goes down, economists say our economy is in a recession.

GDP also tells us about the size of the economy. A big GDP means we have a big economy –a small GDP means the economy is small. This helps us compare how much different economies contribute. In 2015, BC’s GDP was 3rd largest among the Provinces and Territories in Canada.

So GDP gives us an idea of how total economic production is changing and we often hear people say that if the economy is growing – that’s good – and if it...

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Human Population

 

Over the past 100 years, BC’s population has increased about 12 times, growing from a little over 392 thousand to over 4.6 million people today! In the last decade, BC’s population grew by 11% compared to 10% for all of Canada. 51 % of the population is female and 2/3’s 1of the total population is of working age, from 15 – 64 years old.

 

 Most British Columbians, about 88%3, live in cities. At the time of the last census in 2016, about 60% of BC’s population was living in the Greater Vancouver and Victoria area and these two cities also experienced the highest population growth from 2011 – 2016.

It is estimated that by 2041, BC’s population will reach more than 6 million people. Population growth and the man-made structures that go with it increase demands on the environment - watersheds, ecosystems and natural landscapes - and will continue to do so in the future.

Growth of human population in BC is not the same all over the...

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Watersheds

video library watersheds Apr 25, 2017
 

A watershed is an area of land that collects the water falling onto it like rain and snow. Because water is drawn downhill by gravity, the highest points of a watershed like the ridges, mountain tops, or high hills define the watershed’s boundaries.  

 Water either flows over the surface of the land in streams or rivers, seeps into the ground to flow underground or recharge groundwater aquifers, or returns to the atmosphere by evapotranspiration. Some of the water is collected and remains in lakes or seeps into the ground to become groundwater aquifers. Most however,  travels the full network of streams and rivers and ultimately be drains into an ocean.

Watersheds can be as small as a single stream or as large as Basins containing many smaller watersheds. Watershed often cross municipal, regional, or even international borders and can be governed by organizations with competing values or interests. BC has 9 watershed Basins and they are the Mackenzie, the...

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Forestry

forestry video library Apr 24, 2017
 

British Columbia’s forests are truly a global treasure. A diverse geography and climate across a very large area combine to create incredible diversity of forest ecosystems. In fact, British Columbia has a higher degree of ecosystem diversity than any other Province or Territory in Canada and is among the most diverse in the world. 1/3 of the over 4000 plant and animal species in BC rely on forests for some portion of their life cycle.Did you know that there are 49 native species of trees in BC?

BC’s forests cover almost 2/3 of the province. (Over 55 million hectares) .They range from the dry ponderosa pine forests in the southern interior to the boreal forest in the northeast to the temperate rainforests along the Pacific Coast.

Most (83%) of BC’s forests are dominated by conifer species like pine, fir, spruce, cedar and hemlock and 41% of these forests are older than 140 years old.

About 14% of BC’s forests are in parks and protected areas that exclude...

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