Forest harvesting in BC is moving from prescriptive to outcome or results based management. New tools are needed to measure the effectiveness of forest practices in meeting a range of goals, including protecting water quality and sustaining aquatic resources. In 2007, a 3 year Forest Sciences Program (FSP) funded project to develop an aquatic sustainability indicator for the Skeena region of BC was completed and a reference condition approach (RCA)1 model called the Skeena Benthic Assessment of Sediment (BEAST) was unveiled (Perrin et al 2007). The Skeena BEAST was developed for routine site quality testing in forested ecosystems of northern British Columbia. The tool promotes sustainable forest management by using the condition of the aquatic biota as an indicator of whether forest management practices have adequately protected aquatic resources.
Due to data inconsistencies that were discovered during site testing in 2008, the Skeena BEAST model was revisited. In 2009, the landscape level and invertebrate data that were used for building the Skeena BEAST were examined to verify the data quality and accuracy. Once the data were verified, the Skeena BEAST was rebuilt and renamed Skeena BEAST09.
During the 2007 and 2008 field seasons, bioassessment of 59 stream sites were carried out using Skeena BEAST. The sites were distributed across 5 management units in the Kalum and Skeena-Stikine Forest Districts. Of the 59 sites, 25 met the reference site selection criteria and were used for model building. The remaining 34 sites were run as test sites. Invertebrate communities at 6 of the 34 sites departed from the expected reference condition. One site was classified as severely stressed, while the remaining 5 were classified as slightly stressed. Follow-up actions at the test sites classified as stressed or slightly stressed (with forest development in the watershed) should be dependent on development plans within the specific watersheds. If forest harvest operations are planned within the watersheds in the coming year, further actions would include a detailed investigation for the test site classified as stressed and annual monitoring to track changes for test sites that were classified as slightly stressed. In addition, it would be useful to pursue testing methods for identifying human activity stressors that may be causing the deviation of a test site community from the expected reference site condition.
Consulting, Bio Logic. 2009. Bioassessment of Streams in Northwest BC using the Skeena BEAST09. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Land Base Investment Program. Forest Investment Account Report
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), British, Columbia
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