Ecosystem-based Management

The purpose of ecosystem-based management (EBM) is to achieve healthy ecosystems and healthy human communities. In April 2001, as part of several agreements between the Province of British Columbia, First Nations, local governments, and non-government interests, a coastal consensus on the definition, principles and goals of ecosystem-based management
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was established for what would become the Coast Information Team (CIT) analysis area.

The CIT built on the April 2001 agreement to define EBM as

…an adaptive approach to managing human activities that seeks to ensure the coexistence of healthy, fully functioning ecosystems and human communities. The intent is to maintain those spatial and temporal characteristics of ecosystems such that component species and ecological processes can be sustained, and human wellbeing supported and improved.

This definition extends the scope of EBM beyond protecting ecosystem integrity to include the wellbeing of human communities. It also expands the policy environment in which EBM takes place, linking EBM to broader policy, planning, and decision-making concerned with building and maintaining healthy communities, such as education, health, incomes, transportation, equity, and economic development and diversification.

The CIT’s approach to EBM allows for management flexibility by focusing on overall low-risk management at broad scales, but allowing higher-risk activities at finer scales. This approach is grounded in the EBM Framework, which lists the maintenance of ecological integrity and the application of the precautionary principle to ecological risk among its guiding principles.

The CIT undertook the following projects to aid in the implementation of EBM in the CIT region:

The Scientific Basis of EBM provides the scientific information underlying the ecological management recommendations in the EBM Planning Handbook and the Hydroriparian Planning Guide. Most of the precautionary hydroriparian management targets outlined in the Hydroriparian Planning Guide are also included in the EBM Planning Handbook, though limited timelines and resources prevented thorough review and integration of ideas and content between the two documents.

All EBM reports underwent peer review.

EBM Council

As part of its recommendations to government, the Central Coast Land and Resource Management Planning (CCLRMP) Table recommended the establishment of an EBM Council to oversee the ongoing development and implementation of EBM in a transparent and accountable manner, and an EBM Science Team to report to the Council. The CCLRMP envisioned that the EBM Council would:

  • be the steward of EBM, making decisions regarding the practice of EBM based on recommendations from the EBM Science Team
  • make recommendations to provincial and First Nations governments regarding legal management targets
  • be established by an agreement between the First Nations of the region and the Province, and that Council members would include representatives from First Nations, the provincial government, and land use sectors.

The form of the EBM Council will be influenced by the Land and Resource Management Plans for the North Coast and Haida Gwaii/Queen Charlotte Islands, and ultimately by the outcomes of the government-to-government negotiations between the Province and First Nations in these areas.