Fruit growing was considered a wiser use of agricultural land, according to a Lower Mainland bioregionalism agriculture sustainability study. Photo credit: Contributed

Protecting B.C.’s food sources

Plan to adapt Lower Mainland bioregionalism study to Okanagan region

A study to assess how to sustain food self-reliance in the Lower Mainland will soon be carried out for the Okanagan region.

Kent Mullinex, director of the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems at Kwantlen Polytech University in Richmond, said the study looked at how the Lower Mainland’s food production industry can be buffered against uncertainties of global economics and be better positioned to confront environmental issues such as climate change while contributing substantially to the local economy.

Mullinex, speaking at the Building SustainABLE Communities conference in Kelowna this week, said the research project developed suggestions on how the bioregional food system can address those challenges, such as the projected growth in population for the area from the current 2.7 million to 4.3 million by 2050.

He explained bioregionalism adheres to the notion that human settlement and land use patterns must be viewed as integral, functional components of ecosystems rather than as separate unrelated entities.

At the Lower Mainland’s projected population growth rate, Mullinex said current agriculture and economic development practices would see land use dedicated to agriculture plummet from 40 to 28 per cent, placing an increased stress on food production and ecosystem habitat.

As well, he said it remains an unknown as to how much of Lower Mainland food production is targeted for export as opposed to feeding the local population.

He said the study determined if changes were made to Lower Mainland food production practices, the land mass dedicated to agriculture would increase from 40 to 56 per cent along with a 57 per cent growth in food industry and 49 per cent land enhancement in environment preservation.

“We project that the food industry value in the Lower Mainland would increase from $1.8 billion to $2.9 billion by 2050,” he said.

Some of the food production changes incorporated to support that economic prognosis include:

* Prioritizing production of vegetables, fruits and livestock over hay and pasture

* As red meat production has a very high ecological footprint compared to other food commodities, greater emphasis to downgrade meat production against more vegetable and fruit production while maintaining egg and dairy consumption would see a 37 per cent reduction in that ecological footprint.

* Maintaining existing large forest stands because of their carbon storage capacity which mitigates the impact on the atmosphere

* Other environment protection measures would encompass planting new hedgerows or riparian buffers and maintaining existing perennial vegetation along land parcel boundaries and waterways

* Increasing food processing capacity to add economic contribution to food system productivity and the provincial economy

“The bottom line is that we are facing a number of pressing local challenges in the southwest B.C. bioregion—an increasing population, threatened farmland, environment degradation and B.C.’s economic vitality and strength of its agricultural sector,” said Mullinex.

“Our project investigated the potential of a more sustainable, bioregional food system to address these local challenges. It demonstrated that such a food system could play an important part of a comprehensive vision for a sustainable future for Southwest B.C.”

While the Lower Mainland study was carried out from 2012 to 2016, Mullinex said no timeline for developing food self-reliance model recommendations for the Okanagan has yet to be finalized.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Another busy day for BC Ferry passengers

First sailings to and from Swartz Bay full or nearly full

Sooke kayak incident could have been averted: expert

Training is key, says local trainer

Did we mention the cookies?

An hour of your time could save a life at Sooke blood donor clinic

Fire damage to Esquimalt building leaves some tenants out for at least six months

Structural damage has barred half of the tenants from returning, while others might move back sooner

MISSING: Victoria woman Teci London

Victoria police are looking for a 41-year old woman last seen on April 16

4 victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

John Brittain, 68, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

Three climbers presumed dead after avalanche in Banff National Park

One of the men is American and the other two are from Europe, according to officials

TSB issues two safety recommendations in probe of fatal B.C. train derailment

The train derailment killed three crew members on board

VIDEO: Trump tried to seize control of Mueller probe, report says

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report revealed to a waiting nation Thursday

Short-circuit likely caused Notre Dame fire: police official

Investigators made an initial assessment of the cathedral but can’t yet search charred interior

Whitecaps fans stage walkout over club’s response to allegations against B.C. coach

Soccer coach has been suspended by Coastal FC since February

Contaminated soil to stay at contentious Shawnigan Lake site?

Reaction: “The community would lose their minds if this plan proceeds.”

B.C. awaits Kenney’s ‘turn off taps,’ threat; Quebec rejects Alberta pipelines

B.C. Premier John Horgan said he spoke with Kenney Wednesday and the tone was cordial

Snowbirds arrive on Vancouver Island for annual spring training

VIDEO: Acrobatic air team back in Comox for annual spring training

Most Read