Ministry of Forests

Cariboo Region Research Section


Silviculturists and Wildlife Habitat Managers: Competitors or Cooperators

Introduction

The objectives of this paper are to describe attempts at providing special habitats for five forest-dwelling wildlife species in British Columbia, and to outline some challenges facing silviculturists and wildlife habitat managers in making these attempts part of normal forest management. These five species have in common their requirements for components typical of old-growth forests, and so pose timely challenges to integrate wildlife and forest management.

The current controversy over preserving old-growth forests tends to overshadow the fact that most forests will be managed at varying degrees and in different ways (Thomas 1985). Also, although old-growth-dependent wildlife species will be afforded some security within reserved areas, it is unlikely that enough old growth will be protected to meet viability and other management objectives for most species. The question arises: What happens to these species in managed forests of the future since, regardless of resource emphases or priority uses, these managed forests can and will continue to produce timber products, wildlife and other resources'? The answer depends partly upon the management objectives for the species (and the forest), as determined by social, economic and political considerations, and partly upon the resource managers' capability to provide the habitat attributes in kinds and amounts that these species require (Nyberg et al. 1987). In turn, this capability will be determined by how well the habitat requirements can be specified and by how well they can be accomplished. Species requiring components of old-growth forests will likely place special demands on resource managers because their habitat requirements may not be well understood or, if known, not readily met by traditional forest management practices, Although many disciplines are involved in managing these species, key responsibilities for providing habitat fall clearly on the wildlife habitat biologist and the silviculturist. Their willingness to try is the critical link between these steps. In this paper, silviculture is defined as: ''. . .applied forest ecology--a means for protecting and enhancing range, wildlife, water, and soil resources, as well as timber crops. It is the manipulation of forest vegetation for human purposes" (Wenger 1984:414).

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