May 27, 2002

Ecosystem indicators review issued for Georgia Basin-Puget Sound region

A report on six ecosystem indicators in the Georgia Basin-Puget Sound says projected population growth in the Canada-U.S. region will continue to stress the environment of this area during the next 10 to 15 years. As population increases in this shared ecosystem region, land use and natural resource management will need to be conducted in more vigilant and effective ways in order to reverse trends in habitat and species loss, improve air quality and reduce waste generation.

The just-released report was prepared as a collaborative effort by Canadian and U.S. government agencies, including Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, BC government ministries of Water, Land and Air Protection and of Sustainable Resource Management, the Washington State Department of Ecology, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 and the Puget Sound Water Quality Action Team.

The six ecosystem indicators represented in this report include population growth and distribution; air quality measured as the concentration of fine particles in the air; amount of domestic solid waste generated; recycled and disposed; percentage of species at risk; percentage of land base that is protected; and persistent organic pollutants in harbour seals. Some of the report's key findings follow.

Population: The projected 32% population increase forecast by 2020 will require continued application of growth management strategies, resource stewardship and other policies to mitigate increasing stress on the regional ecosystem.

Air: airborne particle levels during a recent six-year period display an encouraging trend across the region but there is a need for continued attention to management of the transboundary airshed.

Domestic Solid Waste: The per capita generation of solid waste has remained relatively constant in the region since the mid-nineties, though the overall amounts are increasing with population growth. Per capita recycling has increased during this period, especially in British Columbia.

Persistent Organic Pollutants; This indicator reports the levels of PCBs, dioxins and furans in harbour seals across the region in 1996. The levels are associated with past industrial practices and to some degree, long-range atmospheric transport.

The Georgia Basin-Puget Sound Ecosystem Indicators report and supporting technical reports may be viewed on the Internet at http://wlapwww.gov.bc.ca/cppl/ecc.

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