The major research question is: How can we efficiently evaluate coarse-filter approaches to sustaining biodiversity in managed forests? Forestry at northern latitudes commonly is planned and practiced over large areas and long time periods. Within British Columbia, the forest composition and the practices applied tend to be simpler than those practiced farther south or on the coast. Nonetheless, the species richness of boreal forests is still high and sustaining biodiversity within managed forests remains challenging. The work complements that of FSP Y092015 which focuses on fine-filter, within-stand thresholds, including the same area.
This project focuses on: 1) identifying species that likely will be sustained by current management practices on the Dawson Creek Timber Supply Area (TSA) with focus on Tree Farm License 48 and incremental extension to the Fort St. John and Fort Nelson TSAs, 2) identifying efficient changes to practices that would sustain native species richness, and 3) describing new operating procedures for species with specialized needs that are unlikely to be sustained by existing coarse-filter approaches. Terrestrial vertebrates including amphibians receive greatest emphasis. Current evaluation indicates that 275 vertebrate species occur in the primary study area (an additional 14 occur in the Fort Nelson TSA). Other elements of biodiversity are being added as data permit vascular plants, damsel and dragonflies, butterflies, and bryophytes. That is possible because within the proponents grant (FSP Y062023; Refining Conservation Priorities in British Columbia), 175 species at risk and potentially at risk within the area were evaluated, so particular specialized habitats are known. That database, coupled with ecosystem representation analysis, ensures that a major spectrum of biodiversity will be evaluated and results will not be biased towards a few well-known species.
Management actions and associated targets considered to be part of the coarse filter approach include:
1) Non-harvestable landbase by Biogeoclimatic Ecological Classification (BEC) unit.
2) Rare ecosystem groups as identified by representation analysis.
3) Riparian reserves netted out for Timber Supply Review based on actual practices.
4) Wildlife Habitat Areas and Ungulate Winter Ranges.
5) Late-seral forest targets as related to natural disturbance units and distributed over BEC units.
6) Shrubs/early forest targets by Landscape Unit over time.
7) Broad forest types (see details below).
8) Practices to maintain specified levels of particular habitat elements (e.g., cavity sites, downed wood).
9) Patch size distribution and connectivity.
Eight elements of the coarse filter can be credibly addressed within the project across a range of taxonomic groups. Patch size distribution can be partially addressed for vertebrates, but will rely on literature for other groups. Six vertebrate species appear potentially sensitive to patch size and connectivity. Our goal is to make analyses no more complex than necessary (the company will ultimately perform these themselves) and keep practices as simple as necessary. Vertebrates are divided into 6 groups: 1) generalists (species that inhabit many habitat types), 2) species that can be statistically assigned broad forest types (preliminary analysis suggests that these can be as simple as: conifer, mixed wood-conifer leading, mixed wood-deciduous leading and deciduous stands across 3 broad age classes), 3) species with strong dependencies on particular habitat elements (snags, shrubs), 4) species restricted to specialized and highly localized habitats (for which standard operating procedures can be developed), 5) species for which patch size and connectivity are significant, and 6) species within the DFA but not in forested habitats (for completeness). Non-vertebrate organisms will be assigned to these groups as possible.
The industrial partner maintains an up-to-date GIS database
Bunnell, Fred L., Kremsater, Laurie L.; Vernier, Pierre R.; Moy, Arnold. 2009. Evaluating effectiveness of forest management practices at sustaining biological diversity in northeastern British Columbia.. Forest Investment Account (FIA) - Forest Science Program. Forest Investment Account Report
Topic: FLNRORD Research Program
Keywords: Forest, Investment, Account, (FIA), British, Columbia
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