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Low-elevation Forests

Up above the valley-bottom shrublands, the mountains of the Okanagan and Similkameen are covered in open pine and fire forests. This forest habitat is critical in supporting hundreds of different species of plants, animals, and insects. In addition to their beauty, these forests provide us with food, renewable timber, and places for recreation.


It is important we treat our forests with respect to ensure these benefits can continue for years to come. Only about 20 percent of the dry forests of the Okanagan and Similkameen remain as intact habitat, with remaining forests having often been degraded due to urban development and agricultural conversion.  Fire suppression efforts often result in dense, unhealthy forests as well, so while it is important to conserve forest areas, preservation without regular fires or other thinning techniques does not always result in healthy forests.

open pp forest vblow_edited.jpg

What can forests do for you?

  • Large trees like Ponderosa pines have extensive root systems running through the ground which stabilizes slopes and prevent soil erosion

  • Forests help clean our water. Soils and roots absorb and hold onto pollutants as water flows through the ground, keeping them from contaminating lakes, creeks, and aquifers (natural basins of water underground)

  • It has been scientifically proven that being in nature, forests especially, creates feelings of calm and reducing levels of stress hormones.

  • Trees will absorb many tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year and expel oxygen.

  • Through the same process that they absorb CO2, they also clean pollutants from the air

Ponderosa Pine bark contains vanillin, the compound used to make vanilla flavouring. Smell the bark on a hot day

and you'll see!

Did You Know?

Which local species are dependent on forests?

Further Reading & Resources

City of Vernon Wildfire Risk Reduction Guide (Part 2: Ecology of North Okanagan Forests, pg 8)

Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship: Ponderosa Pine Forests

Ministry of Environment Habitat Atlas: Okanagan Region Forests

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