Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
FIA Project Y071014

    Evaluating effectiveness of forest management practices at sustaining biological diversity in northeastern British Columbia
Project lead: Bunnell, Fred (University of British Columbia)
Contributing Authors: Bunnell, Fred L.; Kremsater, Laurie L.
Imprint: Vancouver, BC : University of British Columbia, 2007
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), Sustainable Forest Management, Biological Diversity, British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program
The project directly addresses a high priority research topic for 2006-7: maintenance of biodiversity at landscape scales. The major research question is: How can we efficiently evaluate coarse-filter approaches to sustaining biodiversity in managed forests? Forestry at northern latitudes commonly is planned and practiced over large areas and long time periods. Within British Columbia, the forest composition and the practices applied tend to be simpler than those practiced farther south or on the coast. Nonetheless, the species richness of boreal forests is still high (Canadian Boreal Initiative 2005) and sustaining biodiversity within managed forests remains challenging. This project focuses on: 1) identifying species that likely will be sustained by current management practices on the Dawson Creek Timber Supply Area (TSA) with focus on Tree Farm License 48 and the Fort St. John TSA, 2) efficient changes to practices that would sustain native species richness, and 3) standard operating practices for species with specialized needs that are unlikely to be sustained by existing coarse-filter approaches. Terrestrial and aquatic vertebrates will receive greatest emphasis. Preliminary evaluation suggests that 275 vertebrate species occur in the initial study area (an additional 14 occur in the Fort Nelson TSA). Other elements of biodiversity will be added subsequently – vascular plants, damsel and dragonflies, butterflies, and lichens. That is possible because within the proponent’s grant (FSP Y062023; 'Refining Conservation Priorities in British Columbia'), 175 species at risk and potentially at risk within the area were evaluated, so particular specialized habitats are known. That database, coupled with ecosystem representation analysis (e.g., Wells et al. 2003), ensures that a major spectrum of biodiversity will be evaluated and results will not be biased towards a few well-known species. Management actions and associated targets considered to be part of the coarse filter approach include: Non-harvestable landbase by Biogeoclimatic Ecological Classification (BEC) unit. Rare ecosystem groups as identified by representation analysis. Riparian reserves netted out for Timber Supply Review based on actual practices. Wildlife Habitat Areas and Ungulate Winter Ranges. Late-seral forest targets as related to natural disturbance units and distributed over BEC units. Shrubs/early forest targets by Landscape Unit over time. Broad forest types (see details below). Practices to maintain specified levels of particular habitat elements (e.g., cavity sites, downed wood). Patch size distribution and connectivity. Eight elements of the coarse filter can be credibly addressed within the project across a range of taxonomic groups. Patch size distribution can be partially addressed for vertebrates, but will rely on literature for other groups. We expect about 10 vertebrate species to be sensitive to patch size and connectivity. Our goal is to make analyses no more complex than necessary (the company will ultimately perform these themselves) and keep practices as simple as necessary. Vertebrates will be divided into 5 groups: 1) generalists (species that inhabit many habitat types), 2) species that can be statistically assigned broad forest types (preliminary analysis suggests that these can be as simple as: conifer, mixed wood-conifer leading, mixed wood-deciduous leading and deciduous stands across 3 broad age classes), 3) species with strong dependencies on particular habitat elements (snags, shrubs), 4) species restricted to specialized and highly localized habitats (for which standard operating procedures can be developed), and 5) species for which patch size and connectivity are significant. Non-vertebrate organisms will be assigned to these groups as possible. The industrial partner maintains an up-to-date GIS database. The groups represent a simple way to assess coarse filter effects and permit evaluation for the entire group in some instances. For groups 1 and 2, simple tabular summaries of the database will be sufficient to assess sustainability. Simple temporal projections of specific habitat elements may be necessary to credibly assess group 3. Group 4 will be addressed by standard operating procedures. Explicit spatial modeling is required only for group 5, the smallest group. Fieldwork will be limited to the richest vertebrate group – birds. The bird fauna encompasses a broad range of habitat niches and is sufficiently mobile to clearly express habitat preference. We will assess effectiveness by the proportion of species (for which data exist) that are likely to be sustained. Vertebrates present are well known for TFL 48 because of past work in the area (FSP and SFM grants to the proponent or by Canadian Forest Products). Preliminary work in the Fort St. John TSA provided some surprises (SARA-listed species more common than anticipated; specialized, localized habitat use shifting with forest type). The Fort Nelson area is poorly known (particularly for SARA-listed species). Within 1 year, the approach suggested can be completed for TFL 48, and initiated broadly for the Fort St. John TSA (though GIS data are more limiting). A better inventory of species presented is needed for the large Fort Nelson TSA. To encompass the entire range of forest types present over much of the northern Interior (about 18 million ha) the project has to encompass 3 years. The approach itself, however, can be credibly evaluated within the first year, for potential application elsewhere.
Related projects:  FSP_Y082014FSP_Y093014
Contact: Bunnell, Fred L., (604) 576-7731,


Executive Summary (54Kb)

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Updated August 16, 2010 

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