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NatureSpeak Articles

Our Critter and Climate Calamity

The climate crisis is here, but did you know that the biodiversity crisis is equally important, and both are intricately intertwined?

Naturalists and scientists observe a Coastal Tailed Frog tadpole in Brandywine Meadows during last year's BioBlitz

In 2021, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agreed that the climate crisis cannot be solved without recognizing and acting upon the current biodiversity crisis.

All living things - from mountain lions to millipedes to microbes and the rest of the species that live among us, the biodiversity of life are undergoing Earth’s sixth mass extinction. With a million plant and animal species currently under threat of extinction (IPBES); this is just a narrow preview of what’s to come.

So what can we as outdoor-loving citizens of this biodiverse region do? One fun action - yes fun - is to participate in a BioBlitz. A BioBlitz is an effort to document what species are present in a given area within a set timeframe. Data collected, like species observed are used to add data points to existing biological inventories which leads to discoveries and informs range distribution, as well as informs policy, contributes to research projects, and helps establish protected areas. BioBlitzes help us humans connect to the native species we live amongst. When we are more connected to species we better understand and relate to their struggles in adapting to shifts in weather and climate. How do you think our local birds and bugs fared in the heat dome of 2021, or the snowmaggedon of late 2021/early 2022?

To help facilitate a greater connection to nature, the Whistler Naturalist community connected with our area’s youngest scientists by visiting 23 classes during this year’s June BioBlitz. Grade 4-6 students at Spring Creek were blessed with Tyler the Entomologist’s knowledge of insects. “The novelty and variety of the specimens that he brought with him, along with the opportunity to see them magnified, brought out the students’ curiosity and enthusiasm. It was truly amazing to see them so very excited. I’m sure they will look at bees, flies, and wasps differently now that they’ve seen them up close” said teacher Lenka Hennessey.

At the end of July look out for BioBlitz part 2; a group of mostly adult scientists, and local naturalists, combing the soil to the sky near the Black Tusk and in the Callaghan in efforts to add to the Whistler Biodiversity Project. So far 5,428 species have been observed for Whistler and Pemberton, but whose still out there unaccounted for?

So besides connecting with nature on the regular what are solutions that will help address the biodiversity and climate crises? Reducing forest deforestation and degradation lowers greenhouse gas emissions and retains flood resilience. Restoring habitats for non-humans gives them a greater chance of surviving through climatic shifts while benefiting humans through coastline protection, ensuring water quality, soil erosion control, and more. Increasing protected areas offer more resilient land for all earth’s inhabitants while providing reliable resources.

Written by: Chloe Van Loon


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