, Volume 40, Issue 1–2, pp 127–133 | Cite as

Effects of human population growth on the Fraser and Okanagan River systems, Canada: A comparative inquiry

  • Northcote Thomas G. 
I. General Impacts of Human Population Growth on Inland Waters (c) North America


Perhaps nowhere in Canada, if indeed in North America, could two adjacent watershed basins be selected which show such remarkable differences in their historical and recent response to human population growth effects. One — the Fraser — covers some 234,000 km2 (about one quarter of the province of British Columbia) and houses nearly two-thirds of its total population. The other — the Okanagan — forms a small part (some 14,000 km2) of the upper Columbia River drainage in Canada. Native Indian populations at maximum before European contact in the late 1700s were about 50,000 in the Fraser basin and probably less than a fifth of that in the Okanagan. Present total resident populations of the Fraser and Okanagan basins, about 2 million and 1\4 million respectively, have greatly different distributions and thereby effects within the watersheds they occupy. In addition seasonal tourist populations have important and differential impacts within the two watersheds. Expression of these effects on water, fisheries and other aquatic resources of the two basins are explored along with possibilities and suggestions for their sustainable development. The latter, despite some glimmers of hope, will not be tenable without major changes in public attitude, in government policy at all levels, and in other measures which to many may seem impossible.


North America Indian Population Growth Effect Resident Population Differential Impact 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Northcote Thomas G. 
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Zoology, Forest Sciences, and Westwater Research CentreUniversity of British ColumbiaSummerlandCanada

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