A Kamloops youth group is one of 15 finalists for the David Suzuki Foundations Future Ground Prize, which recognizes environmentally friendly youth initiatives in British Columbia and Ontario for their construction project of a forest in the community of Aberdeen.
The Kamloops Community Forest, located on the traditional territory of the Secwepemc people, is led by young people aged 13 to 19 from the Kamloops Hybrid Interact Club and the Aberdeen Neighborhood Association.
Project team member Georgia Morris says the forest, when planted later this fall, will create wildlife habitat, a sustainable ecosystem and a natural firebreak and cooling system in the area.
“What we want to do with this is we want to create a place where there can be more habitat for wildlife and a natural carbon sink because of the trees of course.”
She explains that the forest would be made up of deciduous trees, as they act as excellent carbon sinks.
“Trees take in carbon and they release oxygen, and carbon is what they need as part of what they technically breathe. But they need to grow and survive.
At the same time, Morris explains that they plan to plant Aspen Groves in their forest, in an effort to help play with fire protection in Kamloops.
“Aspens are actually a very good natural firebreak against forest fires; for the past few years Kamloops has almost burned down, we thought it would be really nice to have one of those trees in the area,” she explained.
The forest will be located in the West Highland Park area near Guerin Creek, and Morris says they will get professional advice on how to plant these trees so they have the best chance of survival.
Now Morris says their band is looking to the public for votes to help win the David Suzuki Foundations Future Ground award.
As of June 6, the Kamloops Community Forest Project had 553 votes, however, Morris says they hope to reach 1,000 votes by June 13.
The group with the most votes will win $2,500 to spend on their project. Morris says if they win, they want to help pull together a collaborative effort for the project.
“To see that we can work together and within our means, we can be empowered to act to save our climate, to save our planet.”
To vote for the Kamloops Community Forest on the traditional territory of the Secwepemc people, click here.
A video on the initiative is available here.
– With files from Paul James