Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Land Base Investment Program
FIA Project 2754006

    Biodiversity sustainability analysis for high priority species requiring dead and dying wood in the Fort Nelson TSA
Project lead: Centre for Applied Conservation Research University of British Columbia (Canfor)
Contributing Authors: Bunnell, Fred L.; Kremsater, Laurie L.
Subject: Forest Investment Account (FIA), British Columbia
Series: Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Land Base Investment Program
Executive Summary
British Columbia recently adapted a conservation framework intended to make the allocation of resources to conservation activities more effective. This report summarizes the ability of coarse filter analyses to assess the likelihood that current forest planning and practice will sustain vertebrates that rank high in the provincial conservation framework and require cavity sites or down wood. It exploits biodiversity sustainability analysis which combines features of the Species Accounting System and coarse filter analyses of forest planning and practice. Non-vertebrates also are addressed, but data for them are much more limiting.
The recent provincial conservation framework is summarized in §2. The Species Accounting System is reviewed in §3. The Species Accounting System recognizes species using cavities for >50% of their nesting, denning or roosting sites (Group 3c) or reliant on down wood (Group 3dw). Species are considered high priority if they rank 1 or 2 in any of the three goals of the conservation framework. In total, 15 species within the Fort Nelson TSA rank highly and are dependent on dying and dead wood (Table 1).
Forest practices can influence species dependent on dying and dead wood in 5 major ways, by:
1) failing to provide sufficient dead wood of adequate size;
2) reducing the amount of older forest age classes over large areas (each forest type is significant to some species); products of age, such as larger diameters and advanced decay, are requirements for most of these species;
3) converting significant amounts of hardwood or mixed wood types to conifer-leading types (decayed and dead hardwoods are preferred by species in several groups of organisms);
4) failing to provide the full range of decay classes on a sustained basis in both conifer and hardwood types (different organisms seek different decay classes; even-aged management with close utilization standards can produce gaps in the sustained provision of all decay classes); and
5) failing to distribute dead wood in ways that meet organisms’ requirements.
Analyses address each of these ways to the extent possible (§6). Findings are summarized for each of the 15 species in §7.1. Given current planning and practice, no species is a candidate for monitoring focused specifically on that species. Several bat species, however, merit inventory – in many instances their presence is inferred rather than documented. Recommendations for improvements to current practice and for implementation and effectiveness monitoring of forest practices likely to impact high priority vertebrate species are offered (§7.2 and §7.3).
There are two major limitations to the coarse-filter evaluation of effectiveness of forest planning and practice at sustaining high-priority species dependent on dying and dead wood:
1) The survey method employed (Breeding Bird Surveys) does not adequately assess most cavity users. Despite 1681 station x year combinations, very few observations were attained from which to derive preferred forest types (Table 1). Other groups within the Species Accounting System are much better sampled by Breeding Bird Surveys.
2) Coarse-filter analyses are necessarily map-based and riparian habitats are incompletely represented using current monitoring techniques. Three species (Barrow’s goldeneye, common goldeneye and fisher) cannot be adequately assessed by the coarse filter approach without better information on practices within the Riparian Management Zone. The first limitation can be addressed by other monitoring methods; the second by specific, targeted implementation or effectiveness monitoring (see §7.3).
Despite these limitations the coarse filter analyses are useful. Briefly, they:
1) Expose which species are most in need of specific monitoring. In this case, three species that seek riparian habitat. The analyses also indicate how relatively simple implementation monitoring can clarify the need for more expensive effectiveness monitoring before the latter is undertaken.
2) Expose which species are most in need of inventory. In this case, the bats are. Even their presence within the DFA is ambiguous.
3) Suggest key areas of implementation and effectiveness monitoring directed to ensuring that current planning and practice do not negatively affect the species.
4) Illustrate and focus credible and cost-effective measures for monitoring preferred habitat of most species.


Biodiversity sustainability analysis (0.3Mb)
Final Report (0.3Mb)

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Updated August 16, 2010 

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