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Landscape-level Ecological Tree Species Benchmarks Pilot Project: First Approximation Benchmarks in Five British Columbia Timber Supply Areas

Author(s) or contact(s): S. Mah and K. Astridge
Source: Forests, Lands, and NR Operations
Subject: Landscape Ecology
Series: Technical Report
Other details:  Published 2014. Hardcopy is available.


The landscape-level ecological tree species benchmarks pilot project was initiated in 2012 as the next phase of the landscape-level species strategy project (Mah et al. 2012) in support of the Chief Forester’s Future Forest Ecosystems Initiative. This pilot project is an exploration in producing landscape-level ecological tree species benchmarks to aid the development of specific landscape- level tree species targets in five Timber Supply Areas (TSAs) in the Central Interior of British Columbia.

A co-operative inquiry approach was used in three sessions—Williams Lake, Prince George, and Smithers—that engaged individuals from multiple disciplines to produce first approximation landscape-level ecological tree species benchmarks for 35 Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification (BEC) subzones/variants. This process was undertaken with limited data sources and within the context of a changing climate.

The main findings of the report are as follows:

• A methodology was developed for drafting landscape-level ecological tree species benchmarks for a BEC subzone/variant.
• The concept and intended use of the benchmark was articulated. A benchmark represents the desired proportion of tree species for managed stands at the landscape level that would maintain or increase tree species diversity in ecosystems and promote resilient landscapes. The intended use of the benchmark is to provide forest management direction from an ecological perspective within a BEC subzone/variant for the next 10–15 years, with a review approximately every 5 years against actual tree species proportions for managed stands.
• The outcomes of the sessions are dependent on the cross-section of knowledge holders present, the available supporting data, and the geographic and ecological context.
• The benchmarks are presented in two formats—single number and range. The benchmarks from the Williams Lake and Prince George sessions are presented as a range of proportions for a given species (e.g., lodgepole pine, 20–50%). The benchmarks from the Smithers session are presented as a single proportion (e.g., lodgepole pine, 10%).

The report recommends testing the implementation of the landscape-level ecological tree species benchmarks in landscape-level and/or operational planning, including the application and limitations of the two benchmark formats in developing a landscape-level tree species strategy and species targets for a Timber Supply Area.

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Updated May 16, 2014