January 2000: Policy direction for biodiversity is now represented by the Landscape Unit Planning Guide. This Extension Note should be regarded as technical background only.
Natural disturbance statistics grab your attention:
- Hurricane-force winds flatten over 30 000 ha of forest land on northern Vancouver Island in the winter of 1906.
- Small isolated "hot spots" of mountain pine beetle infestations are detected in southwestern British Columbia in the early 1970s. These infestations irrupt rapidly a decade later into massive outbreaks covering 460 000 ha of lodgepole pine forests.
- Wildfire burns over 348 000 ha of British Columbia's forest land in 1982. One fire alone covers 182 725 ha - more than half of the total area burned.
These extraordinary events can mean different things to different people: a reduced timber harvest, a lost wilderness reserve, an unsightly recreation area. Many of the feelings generated embrace a sense of loss and the belief that nature is on the rampage. But while these scenarios may appear to conflict with and impair a multitude of forest resource values, these natural disturbances show evolution in action and can actually maintain that increasingly precious global treasure-biodiversity.
British Columbia's natural ecosystems have all evolved, and are still evolving, under the influence of natural disturbances such as wildfire, wind, and insects (Figure 1, Table 1). To maintain a range of ecosystems and habitats and to maintain biodiversity, a new approach in forest management applies the concepts of landscape and disturbance ecology.
Keywords: Landscape Ecology, Natural Disturbances
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Updated April 17, 2007