Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Land Base Investment Program
FIA Project 6265004

    Inventory of rare vascular plant species and IWMS plant communities: phases 1 & 2
 
Project lead: Terminal Forest Products Ltd.
Author: Timberline Forest Inventory Consultants Ltd.
Imprint: Vancouver, BC : Timberline Forest Inventory Consultants Ltd., 2003
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), Plants, British Columbia, Northwest, Pacific, Sustainable Forestry
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Land Base Investment Program
Description:
As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainable forestry, Terminal Forest Products obtained certifications under the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Standard and the Sustainable Forest Initiative Program for its BC Woodlands in 2001. Terminal’s Sustainable Forest Management Plan involves managing for biodiversity indicators which were selected in consultation with local stakeholders. Included among the biodiversity indicators are rare species and plant communities. To manage for rare species, Terminal has developed a field guide and training program to ensure that employees and contractors are able to identify rare species should they encounter them in Terminal’s operating areas. This project builds on previous efforts, with the goal of completing a field inventory of rare vascular plant species and Identified Wildlife Management Strategy (IWMS) plant communities. British Columbia boasts a rich flora of over 3000 species of native vascular plants, ranging from common to rare (Douglas et al. 1998). Some factors that contribute to plant rarity include geographic range, habitat specificity, and local abundance (Rabinowitz 1981). In addition, human activities can contribute to plant rarity through direct effects and habitat loss. Over the past 25 years, the international organization NatureServe (formerly the Nature Conservancy and the Association for Biodiversity Information) has developed methods to rank the conservation status of species. These methods have been adopted at the national level in Canada by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and at the provincial level by the BC Conservation Data Centre (BCCDC). At the national level, the Species at Risk Act was recently enacted to 'prevent Canadian indigenous species, subspecies and distinct populations of wildlife from becoming extirpated or extinct, to provide for the recovery of endangered or threatened species, to encourage the management of other species to prevent them from becoming at risk' (House of Commons Canada 2002). The act establishes COSEWIC as an independent body of experts responsible for assessing and identifying Species at Risk. At the provincial level, the BCCDC systematically collects and disseminates information on the rare and endangered plants, animals and plant communities of British Columbia. This information is compiled and maintained in a computerized database, which provides a centralized and scientific source of information on the status, locations and level of protection of these rare organisms and ecosystems. The BCCDC tracks rare species on Red, Blue, and Yellow lists. The lists are defined as follows: 'The Red list includes species that have been legally designated as Endangered or Threatened under the Wildlife Act [...], are extirpated, or are candidates for such designation. The Blue List includes species not immediately threatened, but of concern because of characteristics that make them particularly sensitive to human activities or natural events. The Yellow List includes uncommon, common, declining and increasing species – all species not included on the Red or Blue Lists (BCMSRM 2002).' For the purposes of this inventory, Red- and Blue-listed plants are considered rare. Terminal’s operating areas occur within the Sunshine Coast and Squamish forest districts. There are 46 Red- and Blue-listed vascular plant species that are expected to occur within those forest districts (BCMSRM 2003). Identifying rare plant communities requires an integral understanding of concepts of plant communities, rarity, and element occurrences. A plant community is a unit of vegetation with a relatively uniform species composition and physical structure. Plant communities also tend to have characteristic environmental features such as bedrock geology, soil type, topographic position, climate, and energy, nutrient and water cycles (BCCDC 2003). An element occurrence is an area of land and/or water in which a species or natural community is, or was, present (NatureServe 2002). It is generally recommended that the evaluation of rare plant communities be undertaken by qualified professionals (McPhee et al. 2000; BCMELP 2001). While there are many methods and programs for identifying and tracking rare plant communities, this inventory has the objective of identifying occurrences of plant communities listed under the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy (IWMS). The goals of the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy are to minimize the effects of forest practices on Identified Wildlife, and to maintain their critical habitats. The term 'Identified Wildlife' refers to species at risk and endangered or threatened plant communities that have been designated as requiring special management attention under the Forest and Range Practices Act by the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection. The Identified Wildlife Management Strategy provides foresters with best management practices for managing habitats for specific species and plant communities. In the draft second version of the IWMS (2003), there are five coastal plant communities listed. Due to the effort involved in field inventory of rare plants and plant communities, resources must be carefully allocated to increase the likelihood of locating occurrences within the study area. An effective sampling strategy is therefore critical to the success of the project. The project is divided into four phases, with the following objectives: • Phase 1: to map potential habitats for rare vascular plants and IWMS plant communities within Terminal’s operating areas; • Phase 2: to design a cost-effective sampling plan that targets sampling effort to areas most likely to support rare vascular plants and IWMS plant communities in Terminal’s operating areas; • Phase 3: to conduct a field inventory of rare vascular plants and IWMS plant communities within Terminal’s operating areas; and • Phase 4: to document the field inventory program methods and results in the form of field forms, digital maps, a report, and presentation maps. Phases 1 and 2 of the inventory were designed to carefully target field sampling effort to the habitats that are most likely to support rare vascular plants and plant communities. Using existing VRI and ecosystem mapping, the potential habitat of each rare species and IWMS plant community were modelled in Phase 1. The modeling was based on information about the distribution and habitats of the listed rare vascular plants and IWMS plant communities. In Phase 2, the potential habitat mapping was carefully analyzed to determine areas with the greatest potential to support rare vascular plants and plant communities. Polygons, stratified by study area and optimal potential habitat for each species/plant community, were randomly selected for detailed field sampling. This resulted in a detailed sampling plan that will target areas of good habitat potential in an unbiased manner. Phases 3 and 4 will be initiated in 2004. The potential habitat mapping and sampling plan provides an unbiased and efficient basis for conducting a field inventory. This carefully designed inventory will provide an information base that will allow Terminal Forest Products to manage for rare vascular plants and IWMS plant communities in its operating areas.

    Deliverables:

Rare Vascular Plant Species Report - Phases 1 and 2 (0.7Mb)
Rare Vascular Plant Species Report - Maps (5.3Mb)
Rare Vascular Plant Species Report - Figures, Sampling Plan, and References (2.7Mb)

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Updated August 16, 2010 

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