Resources for conservation efforts are limited. Effective sustainable forest management plans efficiently expend resources for species conservation that confer the largest contribution to overall goals of biodiversity conservation. Currently, conservation priorities are assigned by default using provincial and federal lists of species at risk. However, the use of at risk lists to assign conservation priorities is problematic when local rarity is a predominate criteria used to assess level of risk. Most often, species are locally rare because they are at their range edge in the province (politically peripheral). Conservation effort can be deflected from species for which the province has significant global stewardship responsibility, while attention is focused on politically peripheral species ranked into high risk categories. Developing conservation priorities and evaluating associated constraints of land use practices is particularly important to the forest industry because about 70% of the terrestrial species in BC are forest dwelling. This project develops a scientifically credible system for assigning conservation priorities in BC based on degree of stewardship responsibility and threat. In this report, we quantify the degree to which provincial and federal at risk lists reflect stewardship responsibility by presenting findings arising from the completion of lists of taxa categorized by degree of stewardship responsibility within the taxonomic groups tracked by the CDC (excluding mosses). Less than half (45%) of 71 endemic taxa (100% global stewardship responsibility) are listed provincially or nationally. The majority (67%) of the endemic taxa are restricted to islands off the coast and over half (56%) are forest-dwelling. In total, the province has more than 30% global stewardship responsibility for 464 taxa, but only 71 taxa (15%) are Red- or Blue-listed and 24 (5%) are listed by COSEWIC. Only 29 (28%) of 102 taxa of high (>50%) stewardship responsibility are Red- or Blue-listed. In contrast, 38% of 1690 politically peripheral taxa are Red- or Blue-listed. Of all Red- and Blue-listed taxa, 76% are peripheral, and 8% are of high stewardship responsibility. The remaining 16% are of intermediate or low (wide-ranging peripheral taxa) stewardship responsibility. These results suggest that the use of provincial and national at risk lists to set priorities for species conservation in British Columbia will result in the too much effort spent on conserving the range margins of a majority of taxa at the expense of a small number of taxa for which the province has high stewardship responsibility. Finally, we present a preliminary list of taxa for which current conservation attention is probably unmerited and a second list of taxa, currently largely ignored, which merit attention in sustainable forest management and other conservation plans.
Fred L. Bunnell.
Bunnell, Fred L.. 2005. Refining conservation priorities in British Columbia. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), Conservation, Natural, Resources, British, Columbia
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