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Blue Lake Forest Education "Ecosystem Stewardship Project"
(East Kootenay)
Jody McInnes

Environmental stewardship has been a longstanding issue in British Columbia and throughout the country.  The negative impacts of human communities on ecosystems have gained the attention of environmental groups, industrialists, and the general public throughout local and regional communities nationwide. 

In the Canadian Columbia Basin, there is a significant demand placed on natural resources from industry, recreation, development, and other human pursuits.  Columbia Basin residents need to have access to information presented in a bias- balanced manner, enabling them to make informed decisions about resource use and conservation issues. 

There are opportunities for this learning to take place at a young age and be linked to the British Columbia school curriculum.  Introducing forest and environment education to students at the elementary level will increase awareness and understanding of ecosystems within the Columbia Basin, in order to reduce future human impacts. 

In response to this societal and environmental need, the Blue Lake Forest Education Society has partnered with Columbia Basin Trust, the Kootenay Woodlot Education Society, and local school teachers to develop a school-based project that will improve ecosystem knowledge and understanding through the delivery of experiential education curriculum designed to increase stewardship and to foster appreciation of forest lands. 

The Ecosystem Stewardship Project is currently being facilitated to children and youth at the Blue Lake Centre.  The program is directly linked to the BC school curriculum and students participating in this project gain practical experience and an understanding of data collection, mapping, and analysis of terrestrial ecosystems.  Each student also has the opportunity to adopt one specific tree to be a part of a three year monitoring plan. 

The information that is attained and the curriculum that is developed throughout the course of this project will be disseminated to educators, students, and forestry professionals throughout Canada to encourage stewardship and sustainable resource management.  The data collected throughout this project will be utilized for the demonstration forests at Blue Lake Centre to provide a database of information for sustainable resource management programs to build upon in the future. 

Plans are currently underway to broaden the scope of this program and modify it for facilitation within communities and schools throughout the Columbia Basin in the spring of 2008. 

If you have any questions about this project or about the Blue Lake Forest Education Society, please contact the Blue Lake Office at (250)426-3676 or visit our website at www.bluelakecentre.com 

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