Ministry of Forests

Cariboo Region Research Section


Estimating the Abundace of Arboreal Forage Lichens

Purpose of this Handbook

Mountain caribou are a unique component of British Columbia's rich wildlife resource. These caribou spend much of the year in high elevation forests and during winter feed almost exclusively on arboreal lichen (lichen growing on trees).

Increasingly, timber harvesting has advanced into caribou habitat. The impact of this harvesting can be substantial, since the removal of trees means the removal of lichen; clearcutting eliminates all arboreal lichen within a cutblock. Because lichen spreads and grows slowly, a century or two may pass before a clearcut will again supply lichen for caribou.

To facilitate the integrated management of timber and caribou, forest and wildlife managers need to know the abundance and distribution of forage lichen in specific areas to help them decide:

1. whether logging should proceed and, if so,

2. where it should take place,

3. how much area should be logged, and

4. what type of logging would be appropriate.

This handbook describes a method to gather lichen abundance information for forest and wildlife managers

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