Riparian areas, classically considered to be those areas adjacent to lakes and rivers, have exceptional characteristics compared to other parts of the landscape. The demands we humans make of riparian areas are also exceptional. Sensitive management of these areas is a complex task that requires knowledge and communication systems that are only fragmentary in British Columbia at this time. This report is the first essential step toward a holistic approach to resource management in riparian areas.
The need for this project was identified in 1990 independently within the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of Environment (now the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks). Subsequently, the efforts of staff within the two ministries were pooled to provide a more comprehensive and co-ordinated project. A contractor was selected on the basis of a response to a request for proposals from qualified companies. The formidable task set for the contractor, Environmental and Social Systems Analysts (ESSA), was to survey the current state of knowledge about riparian areas in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon, to summarize it, identify needs, and make recommendations for satisfying those needs. Unfortunately, limited resources made it impossible to expand the search beyond these areas. The project was to focus on riparian areas in the classical sense and include reservoirs. Areas classified as wetlands and land adjacent to estuaries or other tidewater areas were not included, nor were mitigation measures related to large dams.
We emphasize that although this problem analysis was not published until 1995, it was completed in April of 1992. No modifications have been made to the contents of the 1992 draft to reflect more recent information or government initiatives for riparian areas in British Columbia. In particular, the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia contains provincial regulations and standards for the designation of riparian management areas bordering streams, lakes, and wetlands in the province. A riparian field guide is being produced to provide guidance in implementing the code and in developing management guidelines for riparian areas. These riparian management guidelines are a significant step towards addressing many of the issues and recommendations put forth in this problem analysis. The reader should refer to these other documents for information on the current provincial approach to riparian management.
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Updated November 03, 2009