Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations Minister Steve Thomson has committed to reviewing and acting on the advice and majority of recommendations contained in the report, Getting the Balance Right: Improving Wildlife Habitat Management in British Columbia.
In the aftermath of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, Thomson asked Parliamentary Secretary Mike Morris to examine the impact of the epidemic and the associated increase in timber harvesting on wildlife habitat in the province’s Interior. Morris met with 24 organizations over a six-month period, and provided advice and 18 recommendations in five broad areas, as follows:
- Implement a new wildlife management program;
- Consolidate authorization planning in resource development;
- Develop a landscape-level planning model (planning across areas that are ecologically similar in a defined geographic area);
- Improve and expand results-based management; and
- Increase the involvement of wildlife practitioners.
The majority of the recommendations align with government actions already underway. For example, the creation of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations was the first step towards a more integrated approach to managing natural resource development. First Nations have also requested increased focus on the monitoring and stewardship of wildlife resources that support their treaty and Aboriginal rights.
The ongoing development of the cumulative effects assessment framework is ensuring that impacts of resource development over a given geographic area – instead of a sector-by-sector basis – are managed in an environmentally sustainable way.
The new Forest Enhancement Program under development will also contain a component to restore wildlife habitat and Morris’ advice will help shape that program component.
The ministry’s new integrated silviculture strategies are “landscape-level” plans that manage forest harvesting, reforestation, wildlife habitat and ecosystem needs. Acting on recommendations from other reports, the ministry is improving its guidance and training packages to ensure results and strategies required in forest licensees’ forest stewardship plans are more easily verified. The ministry is also enhancing its Forest and Range Evaluation Program and developing and implementing wildlife monitoring protocols.
The ministry is also exploring options for the increased use of citizen science, including the launch of a smart phone app to help inventory moose populations.
Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson –
“The mountain pine beetle infestation and associated logging has had an impact on wildlife habitat in B.C.’s interior, and we are committed to restoring that habitat. At the same time we need to balance the needs of communities and workers that rely on the forest industry for their economic well-being.”
Parliamentary Secretary Mike Morris –
“As a life-long trapper, I’ve seen firsthand how resource development activity can impact wildlife habitat and the intent behind my report is to ensure that more emphasis is placed on protecting wildlife habitat. I am pleased to see that the minister and ministry will be seriously considering my advice and acting on many of my recommendations.”
- There are 1,140 native species of vertebrates in B.C., including 488 kinds of birds, 480 species of fish, 136 mammals, 20 kinds of amphibians and 16 different reptile species. Three-quarters of Canada's mammal species are found in British Columbia, and 24 of those species are exclusive to our province.
- Approximately 37% of the province is under some kind of conservation designation.
- Over $1 million each year is spent on inventorying wildlife populations.
A copy of Getting the Balance Right is available online at: http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlife/