The Kootenay Native Plant Society celebrates the rich native flora of the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. We seek to foster an understanding and appreciation of our native plants and to preserve their diversity for future generations.
The need for native plant conservation is more acute than ever. Unfortunately, in the Kootenays, as elsewhere, native plants are second-class citizens for conservation purposes.
Native plants are the primary basis for life on earth. They provide a source of wonder and delight, along with ecosytem services that are necessary for our wellbeing. Plants turn sunlight into food, produce the oxygen we breathe, filter water, and build soil. Healthy plant communities protect us against floods, droughts and erosion.
Native plants also provide food and shelter to pollinators and other animals. Native plants and animals have co-evolved over millennia to adapt to local conditions. We cannot protect bees, hummingbirds, bears, wolves, hawks, or salmon without conserving the local plants that provide them sustenance and homes.
Native plants are tremendously important in buffering the effects of climate change. Plants remove greenhouse gases from the air and buffer rising temperatures through shade and water cycling. They may be reservoirs of genetic diversity that may help protect out food supply from pests and diseases in an era of climate change. They may also help us diversify our food supply if we protect them now.
In the midst of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction, many plants are endangered. Habitat loss, land conversion and mismanagement, and resource extraction continue to acclerate, destroying species and ecosystems.
The need for native plant conservation is more acute than ever. Unfortunately, in the Kootenays, as elsewhere, programs for plant conservation are substantially inferior to those for animals. Conservation priorities of government and non-governmental organizations are focused disproportionately on ‘fish and wildlife’, with plants often considered as background ‘habitat’ if they are considered at all.
Native plants give us a sense of where we are in this great land of ours.
Lady Bird Johnson