Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory: East Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands 1993 - 1997

Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory: East Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands 1993 - 1997
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory:
East Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands
1993 - 1997
Volume 2: Conservation Manual
Michael McPhee, Quadra Planning Consultants Ltd.
Peggy Ward, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada
Jan Kirkby, Conservation Data Centre, Ministry of Environment, Lands, and Parks
Larry Wolfe, Quadra Planning Consultants Ltd.
Nick Page, Coast River Environmental Services Ltd.
Katherine Dunster, Dunster and Associates Environmental Consultants Ltd.
Neil K. Dawe, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada
Inga Nykwist, Capital Research
Pacific and Yukon Region 2000
Canadian Wildlife Service
Environmental Conservation Branch
Technical Report Series Number 345
Environment
Canada
Environnement
Canada
Canadian Wildlife
Service
Service Canadien
de la faune
WORKING TOGETHER
FOR THE
GEORGIA BASIN
AU TRAVAIL
POUR LE
BASSIN DE GEORGIA
Ministry of Environment,
Lands and Parks
TECHNICAL REPORT SERIES
CANADIAN WILDLIFE SERVICE
This series of reports, established in 1986, contains technical and scientific information from projects of the
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DE LA FAUNE
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Ordinairement, seuls les spécialistes des sujets traités demandent ces rapports techniques. Ces documents
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Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory:
East Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands
1993 - 1997
Volume 2:
Conservation Manual
Michael McPhee, Quadra Planning Consultants Ltd.
Peggy Ward, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada
Jan Kirkby, Conservation Data Centre, Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks
Larry Wolfe, Quadra Planning Consultants Ltd.
Nick Page, Coast River Environmental Services Ltd.
Katherine Dunster, Dunster and Associates Environmental Consultants Ltd.
Neil K. Dawe, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada
Inga Nykwist, Capital Research
Technical Report Series No. 345
Pacific and Yukon Region 2000
Canadian Wildlife Service
This series may be cited as:
McPhee, M., P. Ward, J. Kirkby, L. Wolfe, N. Page, K. Dunster,
N. K. Dawe and I. Nykwist. 2000. Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory:
East Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands, 1993 - 1997.
Volume 2: Conservation Manual. Technical Report Series No. 345,
Canadian Wildlife Service, Pacific and Yukon Region, British Columbia.
Published by the authority of the
Minister of Environment
Canadian Wildlife Service
©Minister of Government Services 2000
Catalogue No. CW69-5/345E
ISBN # 0-662-28562-X
Copies may be obtained from:
Canadian Wildlife Service,
Pacific and Yukon Region
5421 Robertson Road, RR1,
Delta, B.C. V4K 3N2
Websites:
www.pyr.ec.gc.ca/wildlife/sei
or
Queen’s Printer
Tel: (250) 387-0371 or
www.publications.gov.bc.ca
or
www.elp.gov.bc.ca/rib/wis/cdc/sei
Acknowledgments
T
he preparation of this manual was very much a team effort.
The initial draft was written by Michael McPhee, Larry
Wolfe, Nick Page, Katherine Dunster and Inga Nykwist.
Subsequently, Peggy Ward and Neil K. Dawe, Canadian Wildlife
Service, and Jan Kirkby, Conservation Data Centre, wrote
additional material and designed, edited and prepared the
document for publication.
Members of the Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory (SEI) Technical
Advisory Group (TAG) and Steering Committee (see sidebars)
provided direction and valuable knowledge and information
throughout the preparation of the document. They also reviewed
drafts and provided positive comments that substantially improved
its content and readability. The TAG managed the SEI project
through its various phases (1993 - 2000) by formalising project
goals, establishing methodologies, managing contracts, conducting
quality control, designing inventory and outreach products, and
providing scientific support to users of the inventory data.
Helpful review comments on earlier drafts of the manual were also
provided by Pam Krannitz and Saul Schneider, Canadian Wildlife
Service, Environment Canada, Peter Law and Bill Hubbard,
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks and Brad Mason,
Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Additional review comments on the
final draft were made by Joel Ussery, Parks Department, Capital
Regional District, Harriet Rueggeberg, Strategic Planning, City of
Nanaimo, Kevin Key, Planning Department, District of Highlands,
Peter Law, Margaret Henigman, and Bill Hubbard, Vancouver
Island Regional Office, Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks.
Jeanne Illingworth and Judith Cullington, SEI Coordinators, gave
much needed support and advice at different times during the
project and were appreciated by all members of the TAG and
Steering committees.
We are grateful to various local artists who provided the line
drawings that greatly enhanced the manual: Donald Gunn, Briony
Penn, Laura Friis, Michael Hames, Keith Taylor and Brigid Van
Der Ray (Governemt of British Columbia), Chris Guppy,
Elizabeth J. Stephen, Christine Tunnoch, Jack Grundle, Robert
Savannah (courtesy U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and others
from the Canadian Wildlife Service. We are also grateful to Gail
Harcombe, Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks who
assisted us in obtaining many of the line drawings.
SEI Technical Advisory
Group
Peggy Ward, Canadian
Wildlife Service,
Environment Canada;
Marlene Caskey and
Trudy Chatwin, Vancouver
Island Regional Office,
Ministry of
Environment, Lands and
Parks;
Andrew Harcombe
Carmen Cadrin, and
Jan Kirkby, Conservation
Data Centre, Ministry of
Environment, Lands and
Parks.
SEI Steering Committee
Rick McKelvey,
Trish Hayes,
Ken Brock, and
Peggy Ward, Canadian
Wildlife Service,
Environment Canada
Mike Whately,
Mike Lambert, and
Marlene Caskey, Vancouver
Island Regional Office,
Ministry of
Environment, Lands and
Parks
Andrew Harcombe and
Jan Kirkby, Conservation
Data Centre, Ministry of
Environment, Lands and
Parks
Erik Karlsen, Ministry of
Municipal Affairs
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual i
Major funding for the SEI project was provided by Environment
Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service) and the Habitat Conservation
Trust Fund. In-kind resources were provided by B.C. Environment,
Lands and Parks (Vancouver Island Regional Office, Nanaimo and
Conservation Data Centre, Victoria). Additional funds were
contributed by B.C.’s Corporate Resources Inventory Initiative,
B.C. Ministry of Forests, Capital and Comox-Strathcona Regional
Districts, Provincial Capital Commission, Islands Trust and the
municipalities of Nanaimo and Campbell River. Fisheries and
Oceans Canada provided additional stream data to supplement
TRIM mapping.
ii Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Abstract
T
he Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory (SEI) mapped the
remaining fragments of rare and fragile terrestrial
ecosystems throughout the eastern coastal lowland of
Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands in British Columbia.
Ecologically significant lands and important wildlife habitats are
fast disappearing from this 4,000 square kilometre study area.
Inventory results showed that less than 8% of the area remained
relatively undisturbed by development. Volume 1: Methodology,
Ecological Descriptions and Results documents and describes the
inventory and summarises and analyses the results.
The main objective of the SEI project was to provide scientific
information on selected sensitive ecosystems in support of sound
land management decisions that encourage conservation and good
land stewardship. This manual (Volume 2) describes the
importance of the SEI ecosystems and the impacts affecting them,
presents management guidelines for each of the nine SEI
ecosystems, and describes conservation tools available to local and
regional governments, landowners and other citizens, and senior
governments. Policies and guidelines are also offered as models
for use in Official Community Plans and Development Permits,
although legal advice should be sought when preparing new legal
documents or bylaws, or interpreting existing ones.
These sensitive ecosystems are not the only areas of ecological
importance. A variety of other habitats, such as streams, lakes and
coastal areas also contribute to a healthy environment. Sensitive
ecosystems, and the wildlife they support, are an important part of
the quality of life of the communities within the study area and
must be protected. Many of the sites identified by the SEI are at
high risk of conversion to other land uses or degradation by human
use and invasion by non-native plants and animals. With so few of
these rare and fragile ecosystems left in the study area, the need to
treat seriously each one of the sites identified, and to fully evaluate
all possible land use options before initiating any changes, is
paramount.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual iii
Résumé
D
es zones écologiques et des habitats fauniques importants
disparaissent à un rythme accéléré dans les îles du Golfe et les
basses terres du littoral est de l’île de Vancouver. C’est une
des conclusions du dernier Inventaire des écosystèmes fragiles (IEF)
qui a permis de cartographier les fragments restants des écosystèmes
rares et fragiles présents sur les 4 000 kilomètres carrés de la zone
d’étude. Les résultats de l’inventaire ont montré que moins de 8 % du
secteur est resté relativement à l’abri des pressions intenses de
développement. Le Volume 1: Methodology, Ecological Descriptions
and Results documente et décrit l’inventaire puis en résume et analyse
les résultats.
L’objectif principal de l’IEF est d’apporter des données scientifiques
susceptibles d’aider à la prise de décision en matière d’aménagement
du territoire dans une optique favorisant la conservation et la gérance
efficaces des terres. Ce manuel (Volume 2) décrit l’importance des
neuf écosystèmes répertoriés lors de l’IEF et les impacts qu’ils
subissent, présente les directives de gestion pour chacun d’entre eux et
décrit les mécanismes et les outils de conservation dont disposent les
gouvernements locaux et régionaux, les propriétaires fonciers, les
citoyens en général et les gouvernements provincial et fédéral. Les
politiques et stratégies suggérées sont également présentées comme
modèles à utiliser pour les permis officiels d’aménagement et de
développement des collectivités, bien qu’il soit souhaitable de
bénéficier des services d’un conseiller juridique pour la préparation de
nouveaux règlements ou documents légaux, ou pour l’interprétation
des documents ou règlements existants.
Ces écosystèmes fragiles ne sont pas les seuls éléments à revêtir une
importance écologique. Divers autres habitats, tels que les
écosystèmes aquatiques, contribuent eux aussi à la santé de la faune
dans son ensemble ainsi qu’à nous-mêmes. Si les écosystèmes fragiles
et la faune qu’ils abritent sont considérés comme des ingrédients
essentiels de la qualité de vie des communautés à l’intérieur de la
zone d’étude, il est normal qu’ils fassent l’objet d’une protection, sous
une forme ou une autre. De nombreux sites répertoriés par l’IEF
risquent fort d’être aménagés prochainement (pour une utilisation
autre que la conservation) ou d’être dégradés par une fréquentation
humaine excessive et par l’invasion de végétaux non indigènes.
Compte tenu du faible nombre d’écosystèmes fragiles qui restent dans
la zone d’étude, il est crucial de gérer avec beaucoup de précautions
chacun d’entre eux et d’examiner en profondeur les conséquences de
tout changement éventuel de l’utilisation des terres.
iv Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments ................................................................................i
Abstract / Resume ..............................................................................iii
Table of Contents ................................................................................v
Using This Manual ............................................................................xi
Section One: Descriptions and
Management Recommendations
1 Introduction ........................................................................................1
What is biodiversity? ..........................................................................2
Global Commitment to Biodiversity ..............................................2
National and Provincial Commitment to Biodiversity ..................3
Local Commitment to Biodiversity ................................................3
Who is responsible for conservation? ..................................................4
2 Ecosystems of Concern ......................................................................7
Why the Concern?................................................................................7
What are Sensitive Ecosystems?..........................................................8
Why are these Ecosystems Important? ..............................................10
Ecological Attributes ....................................................................10
Socio-economic Values ................................................................11
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory (SEI) ..............................................13
Study Area ....................................................................................13
Maps..............................................................................................13
Inventory Results ..........................................................................15
3 Impacts of Concern..........................................................................19
Landscape Fragmentation ..................................................................20
Invasive Species ................................................................................21
Edge Effects ......................................................................................22
Global Climate Change......................................................................23
Direct Impacts ....................................................................................23
Indirect Impacts..................................................................................24
4 Planning and Management ............................................................27
Planning for Conservation ................................................................27
Primary Goals ..............................................................................27
Information Requirements ............................................................27
Develop a Local Ecosystems Plan ................................................28
Develop a Protection Strategy ......................................................29
General Management Recommendations ..........................................30
Delineate Buffers around Sensitive Ecosystems ..........................30
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts................................................30
Develop Carefully ........................................................................32
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual v
5 Coastal Bluff ....................................................................................35
What are Coastal Bluff Ecosystems? ................................................35
Status ..................................................................................................37
Why are they Important? ..................................................................38
Ecological Attributes ....................................................................38
Socio-economic Values ................................................................39
Management Recommendations ........................................................40
Delineate Buffers around Coastal Bluff Ecosystems....................40
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts................................................40
Develop Carefully ........................................................................42
6 Sparsely Vegetated ..........................................................................45
What are Sparsely Vegetated Ecosystems?........................................45
Status ..................................................................................................47
Why are they Important? ..................................................................48
Ecological Attributes ....................................................................48
Socio-economic Values ................................................................49
Management Recommendations ........................................................50
Delineate Buffers around Sparsely Vegetated Ecosystems ..........50
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts................................................50
Develop Carefully ........................................................................52
7 Terrestrial Herbaceous ....................................................................55
What are Terrestrial Herbaceous Ecosystems? ..................................55
Status ..................................................................................................57
Why are they Important? ..................................................................58
Ecological Attributes ....................................................................58
Socio-economic Values ................................................................59
Management Recommendations ........................................................60
Delineate Buffers around Terrestrial Herbaceous Ecosystems ....60
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts................................................60
Develop Carefully ........................................................................61
8 Wetlands............................................................................................65
What are Wetland Ecosystems? ........................................................65
Status ..................................................................................................70
Why are they Important? ..................................................................72
Ecological Attributes ....................................................................72
Socio-economic Values ................................................................73
Management Recommendations ........................................................75
Delineate Buffers around Wetland Ecosystems............................76
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts................................................77
Develop Carefully ........................................................................80
9 Riparian ............................................................................................83
What are Riparian Ecosystems? ........................................................83
Structural Stages ..........................................................................84
Status ..................................................................................................87
Why are they Important? ..................................................................88
vi Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Ecological Attributes ....................................................................88
Socio-economic Values ................................................................90
Management Recommendations ........................................................90
Delineate Buffers around Riparian Ecosystems ..........................91
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts................................................92
Develop Carefully ........................................................................93
10 Woodland ..........................................................................................97
What are Woodland Ecosystems? ......................................................97
Garry Oak Woodlands ..................................................................98
Arbutus—Douglas-fir Woodlands ..............................................100
Trembling Aspen Woodlands......................................................101
Status ................................................................................................102
Why are they Important? ................................................................103
Ecological Attributes ..................................................................103
Socio-economic Values ..............................................................104
Management Recommendations ......................................................105
Delineate Buffers around Woodland Ecosystems ......................105
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts..............................................106
Develop Carefully ......................................................................108
11 Older Forest ....................................................................................111
What are Older Forest Ecosystems? ................................................111
Coastal Douglas-fir, moist maritime subzone (CDFmm) ..........113
Coastal Western Hemlock, very dry maritime subzone
(CWHxm1)..................................................................................115
Status ................................................................................................116
Why are they Important? ................................................................118
Ecological Attributes ..................................................................118
Socio-economic Values ..............................................................119
Management Recommendations ......................................................120
Delineate Buffers around Older Forest Ecosystems ..................121
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts..............................................121
Develop Carefully ......................................................................122
12 Older Second Growth Forest ........................................................127
What are Older Second Growth Forest Ecosystems? ......................127
Status ................................................................................................129
Why are they Important? ................................................................130
Ecological Attributes ..................................................................130
Socio-economic Values ..............................................................131
Management Recommendations ......................................................132
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts..............................................133
Develop Carefully ......................................................................134
13 Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field ........................................137
What are Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field Ecosystems? ......137
Status ................................................................................................138
Why are they Important? ................................................................139
Ecological Attributes ..................................................................139
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual vii
Socio-economic Values ..............................................................141
Management Recommendations ......................................................142
Use Conservation-oriented Management Practices ....................143
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts..............................................144
Section Two: Conservation Tools
14 What Local Governments Can Do ..............................................149
Planning............................................................................................149
Primary Goals ............................................................................149
Information Requirements ..........................................................150
Information Verification..............................................................151
Official Community Plans................................................................152
Suggested Policies for all Sensitive Ecosystems ........................152
Additional Policy Suggestions for Coastal Bluff
Ecosystems ............................................................................154
Additional Policy Suggestions for Sparsely Vegetated
Ecosystems ............................................................................154
Additional Policy Suggestions for Terrestrial Herbaceous
Ecosystems ............................................................................155
Additional Policy Suggestions for Wetland Ecosystems............155
Additional Policy Suggestions for Riparian Ecosystems ..........155
Additional Policy Suggestions for Woodland Ecosystems ........155
Additional Policy Suggestions for Older Forest Ecosystems ....156
Development Permits ......................................................................157
Suggested Guidelines for all Sensitive Ecosystems ..................157
Additional Guideline Suggestions for Coastal Bluff
Ecosystems ............................................................................162
Additional Guideline Suggestions for Sparsely Vegetated
Ecosystems ............................................................................162
Additional Guideline Suggestions for Terrestrial
Herbaceous Ecosystems ........................................................163
Additional Guideline Suggestions for Wetland Ecosystems ......164
Additional Guideline Suggestions for Riparian Ecosystems......165
Additional Guideline Suggestions for Woodland
Ecosystems ............................................................................166
Additional Guideline Suggestions for Older Forest
Ecosystems ............................................................................167
Recommendations for Other Important Ecosystems ......................169
Older Second Growth Forest Ecosystems ..................................169
Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field Ecosystems ..................170
Zoning ..............................................................................................172
Subdivision Approvals ....................................................................173
Subdivision Servicing Bylaws ........................................................174
Stream and Drainage Policies and Bylaws ......................................175
Tree and Landscaping Policies and Bylaws ....................................176
Soils Bylaws ....................................................................................177
viii Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Animal Control Bylaws ..................................................................177
Partnerships ......................................................................................178
15 What Landowners and Citizens Can Do ....................................181
Learn about the Natural Environment..............................................181
Join or Create a Stewardship Organisation, Land Trust or
Advocacy Group ....................................................................182
Stewardship Organisations..........................................................182
Land Trusts..................................................................................183
Advocacy Groups........................................................................185
Participate in your Local Government ............................................186
Be a Good Steward of Your Own Land ..........................................186
Consider Legal Tools for the Long-term Protection of ESAs ........187
Handshake Agreements ..............................................................187
Land Management Agreements ..................................................187
Conservation Covenants..............................................................188
Other Interests in Land ....................................................................190
Donate Land ....................................................................................191
Tax Advantages ..........................................................................191
Make a Charitable Donation ............................................................191
16 What Senior Governments Can Do ..............................................193
Federal Legislation ..........................................................................194
Fisheries Act................................................................................194
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA)....................194
Canada Wildlife Act....................................................................195
Migratory Birds Convention Act ................................................195
Provincial Legislation ......................................................................196
Municipal Act..............................................................................196
Regional Growth Strategies ........................................................197
Water Act ....................................................................................198
Wildlife Act ................................................................................198
Land Act......................................................................................199
Environmental Assessment Act (BCEAA) ................................199
Agricultural Land Reserve Act ..................................................200
Forest Land Reserve Act ............................................................200
Fish Protection Act......................................................................201
Private Land Forest Practices Regulation ..................................202
Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act ..........................202
Conclusion........................................................................................203
Glossary ................................................................................................205
Bibliography ........................................................................................213
Index ....................................................................................................258
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual ix
Appendices
Appendix A: Stewardship Publications ................................................227
Appendix B: Organisations and Resources ..........................................230
Appendix C: Ecosystem Key ................................................................237
Appendix D: Plants of the SEI Study Area ..........................................241
Appendix E: SEI Site Nomination Form ..............................................248
Appendix F: SEI Update Form..............................................................249
Appendix G: Groundtruthing Forms ....................................................250
Appendix H: SEI Contacts ....................................................................257
List of Tables
Table 1: Sensitive ecosystems..................................................................9
Table 2: Other Important Ecosystems......................................................9
Table 3: Summary of inventory results by sub-unit and
dominant ecosystem type ........................................................16
Table 4: Area (ha) of coastal bluff ecosystems by sub-unit ..................38
Table 5: Area (ha) of sparsely vegetated ecosystems
by sub-unit ..............................................................................48
Table 6: Area (ha) of terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems
by sub-unit ..............................................................................58
Table 7: Area (ha) of wetland ecosystems by sub-unit..........................71
Table 8: Area (ha) of riparian ecosystems by sub-unit..........................87
Table 9: Area (ha) of woodland ecosystem by sub-unit ......................102
Table 10: Area (ha) of older forest ecosystems by sub-unit..................116
Table 11: Area (ha) of older forest greater than 250 years. ..................117
Table 12: Area (ha) of older second growth forest by sub-unit ............129
Table 13: Area (ha) of seasonally flooded agricultural fields
by sub-unit ............................................................................138
List of Figures
Figure 1: SEI Study Area ........................................................................14
Figure 2: Biogeoclimatic zones of the SEI study area ..........................112
x Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Using This Manual
T
his conservation manual has been written for people and
organisations that have the desire or responsibility to
conserve and protect the remaining vestiges of important
sensitive habitats. It was also written for landowners and
developers who are planning activities that could impact sensitive
ecosystems, and contains advice on how to avoid or minimise
those types of impacts.
The manual contains two sections. Section One discusses the
importance of the SEI ecosystems, describes the impacts of
concern, and recommends steps that can be taken to avoid or
minimise these impacts. Section Two discusses the legal
conservation tools available to local governments, senior
governments, landowners and other citizens. It also offers
suggestions on how the management recommendations from
Section One can be incorporated into various legal tools such as
Official Community Plans and Development Permits.
Section One
Chapter 1 sets the context of the SEI project by describing the
importance of biodiversity and how steps are now being taken
globally, nationally, and regionally in an attempt to prevent further
losses of biodiversity.
See Volume 1 for details on
the Methodology, Ecological
Descriptions and Results of
the Sensitive Ecosystems
Inventory project.1
To apply the information contained in this manual, we encourage
you first to review Chapters 2 through 4. Chapter 2: Ecosystems
of Concern explains why there is concern about ecosystems in
general and in the study area specifically. It defines the SEI
ecosystems, discusses the wide range of ecological and socioeconomic values inherent in the ecosystems, and briefly describes
the SEI inventory project (see sidebar). Chapter 3: Impacts of
Concern discusses the range of past and present impacts that have
resulted in only 7.9% of the landscape remaining in a relatively
undisturbed condition. Chapter 4: Planning and Management
outlines the general steps to follow for effective conservation
planning and presents some basic management principles that
apply to all SEI and other important ecosystems.
1
Ward et al. 1998.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual xi
Following this review, determine which ecosystem most closely
describes the property or landscape of concern. The ecosystem
descriptions in Table 1 (page 9) will often give a general idea of
the ecosystem type under review, but using the Ecosystem Key
(Appendix C, page 237) should help you to confirm your
ecosystem type. Remember that there may be more than one
type of ecosystem present.
Each of the nine SEI ecosystems is discussed in Chapters 5
through 13. Refer to the chapter on the ecosystem under review
for a more detailed description of the specific ecosystem and its
values, status (based on the SEI inventory results), impacts and
management recommendations.
Section Two
Finally, depending on your needs and/or responsibilities, refer to
this section for general guidance regarding legal tools available
for conserving and protecting sensitive ecosystems.
Chapter 14: What local governments can do discusses many of
the legal conservation tools available to local and regional
governments, ranging from Official Community Plans (OCPs)
to Animal Control Bylaws. Suggested wordings are also offered
in this chapter as models of how to incorporate the management
recommendations from Section One into such documents as
OCPs, Development Permits and a number of other land use
bylaws. However, actual legal documents would be customised
to reflect local practices and conditions and readers should seek
legal advice when preparing new legal documents or bylaws, or
interpreting existing ones.
Chapter 15: What landowners and other citizens can do
discusses how landowners and citizens can become involved in
conservation efforts using tools such as conservation covenants
and property tax relief.
Chapter 16: What senior governments can do outlines several
key federal and provincial statutes that provide support for
protecting sensitive ecosystems. Some examples of privatepublic partnerships are also given, which present opportunities
for ecosystem conservation.
xii Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Other Aids in Protecting
Sensitive Ecosystems
If you are a landowner, developer, planner, consultant or local
resident concerned with a specific site, you are encouraged to
review the SEI maps and local government Environmentally
Sensitive Area (ESA) maps to determine whether or not the
proposed activity is in or near a sensitive ecosystem. SEI maps are
available for viewing through local municipal or regional planning
offices, through the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks or
Environment Canada.2
For developers, it is important to review requirements set out in
local government bylaws, as well as those of the provincial
Ministry of Environment, Lands, and Parks, and Fisheries and
Oceans Canada (see Appendix B, page 230 for addresses). Further
assessment of sites that are sensitive is often required.
The Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory (SEI) data are intended to be
used as a tool to ‘flag’ or identify sensitive ecosystems at an
overview level. The SEI maps and database are an important
information source for assisting in the identification of
Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) for local and regional
governments. Approximately 30% of the 7,388 sensitive
ecosystems identified during the inventory were field checked. In
most cases, however, for both ESA mapping and site-specific
development, the SEI information will need to be confirmed
and updated through field surveys. The Ministry of
Environment, Lands and Parks has procedures to follow in
collecting field information for assessment purposes.
The SEI project team has a field form the type of inventory
information required (see Appendix G, page 250). Qualified
professionals are required to undertake this information collection.
Persons can also nominate sites for inclusion into the SEI (see
Appendix E, page 248 for SEI Site Nomination Form) or provide
updated information on existing SEI sites (Appendix F, page 249,
for SEI Update Form).
2
See Appendix H, page 256.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual xiii
Other Sources of Information
There are several sources available for learning more about
sensitive ecosystems and how to conserve them. The Bibliography
at the back of the manual includes the references used in the
preparation of the manual and as well as some general references.
For landowners who are interested in voluntary private land
stewardship programs, there is a list of stewardship publications
that may be useful (see Appendix A, page 227). The Glossary
(see page 205) describes technical terms used in the report.
Often conservation organisations, such as local natural history
groups, conservancy groups, and land trusts have information
about sensitive ecosystems. These groups can often be helpful in
providing information about plant and animal species and habitats.
Many groups are also involved in stewardship activities as well as
acquisition and other conservation projects. Organisations and
Resources (Appendix B, page 230) provides a useful list of
government and non-government contacts.
xiv Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Section One
Ecosystems of Concern
Impacts of Concern
Planning and Management
SEI Ecosystems
Descriptions
Status
Values
Management Recommendations
(J.Grundle)
Some examples of the rich biological diversity of the SEI study area (clockwise from top left): cougar, giant
west coast slug, licorice fern, chum salmon, fly agaric, Meadowhawk, Pacific treefrog, arbutus, fawn lily,
wandering garter snake, Great Blue Heron. (Collage: Cougar—Roy Ostling; others—Neil K. Dawe)
1 Introduction
his manual3 was prepared to engage and encourage the
involvement of local governments, landowners, developers
and others in the protection, conservation and restoration of
rare and fragile terrestrial ecosystems.4 Ecosystems identified by
the Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory (SEI) are the main focus of
this manual;5 however, they are not the only areas worth
preserving. They must be considered within the context of the
overall landscape that includes other habitats of importance to a
variety of flora and fauna.
T
The Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory6 (SEI) is the first of its kind in
British Columbia and is an outcome of the commitments made by
the federal and provincial governments to the Canadian
Biodiversity Strategy.7 The inventory takes a broad ecosystem
approach over a large area and provides scientific information on
ecosystem distribution, vegetation, ecological attributes and
quality. An important element of the SEI project is this
conservation manual, a working document that provides the tools
needed to protect, conserve, manage and, where appropriate, restore
these ecosystems.
The manual describes the values of the SEI ecosystems and offers
practical advice on how best to avoid or minimise damage to them,
3
This is the companion to Volume 1: Methodology, Ecological
Descriptions and Results by Ward et al. 1998.
4
The first occurrence of terms found in the Glossary (see page 205) is
highlighted in bold.
5
The manual is also relevant to sensitive ecosystems mapped in the
Bowen and Gambier Local Trust Areas. Maps of this area are available,
however the summary and analysis of inventory results will be
published as part of the Sunshine Coast SEI, scheduled for 2002.
6
Ward et al. 1998.
7
See Glossary
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 1
Introduction
while recognising human uses of the landscape. This is a working
document that can be used to counter the damaging effects of our
past activities. It is to be used to help conserve, restore, and
manage the ecosystems so that future generations will know and
enjoy them firsthand and not just vicariously through written
descriptions or photographs in a book.
Between 1991 and 1996
eastern Vancouver Island,
excluding the Capital
Regional District, had the
highest population growth
rate in British Columbia.
During that period the
population increased by
19% which, if continued,
would double in less than
four years.
This can be compared to
average growth rates for
British Columbia (13.5%),
Canada (5.7%) and the
Earth (1.4%).
Rapid population growth on the east coast of Vancouver Island and
the Gulf Islands has caused the loss or degradation of many
sensitive ecosystems. This region is one of two areas in British
Columbia (and one of four in Canada) experiencing the greatest
loss of natural systems.8 It also has one of the highest rates of
population growth in British Columbia (see sidebar).9
Only recently have we begun to appreciate the consequences of
diminishing the biological diversity of the Earth. As a result, steps
are now being taken globally, nationally, and regionally in an
attempt to prevent further losses of biodiversity—biodiversity that
ecological-economists call our natural capital.
What is biodiversity?
Biodiversity, or biological diversity, is not simply the variety of
living organisms on the planet. It also includes the ecological roles
they perform and the genetic diversity they contain.10 Thus,
ecosystems such as those covered by the Sensitive Ecosystems
Inventory (SEI) are major components of the biodiversity of an
area.
Global Commitment to Biodiversity
In 1992, at the United Nations Conference on the Environment and
Development, over 160 nations agreed on a Global Convention on
Biodiversity.11 Biological diversity was recognised as “a common
concern of humankind” and an integral part of development
processes on a global scale. Signatories to the convention
committed themselves to
the conservation of biological diversity.
the sustainable use of this diversity.
8
Garry oak ecosystems on southeast Vancouver Island, south Okanagan
grassland ecosystems, tall-grass prairie ecosystems in southern Alberta,
and Carolinian forests of southern Ontario are all threatened and
endangered, and much of the little that remains is disturbed and degraded.
9
1996 Census.
10
Wilcox 1984.
11
United Nations Environment Program 1992.
2 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Introduction
the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic
resources.
National and Provincial Commitment
to Biodiversity
In December 1992, Canada became the first industrialised country
to ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity. Canada’s formal
response to the Convention was the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy
that was prepared in 1995. Ministers from every province and
territory, as well as the federal government made a commitment to
the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy
to conserve biodiversity and use biological resources
sustainably.
to move to an ecological approach to resource management
through an improved understanding of how ecosystems
function.
to improve Canadian’s understanding of the need to conserve
biodiversity.
to develop incentives and legislation that promote conservation
and sustainable use.
to work with other countries to conserve biodiversity.
Local Commitment to Biodiversity
At local levels the maintenance of biodiversity is of growing
concern and has been recognised as contributing to the quality of
life of an area. For example, a goal of the Growth Management
Plan for the Regional District of Nanaimo is to “protect
environmentally significant features and ecosystem functions and
other biologically sensitive ecosystems.”12
Metchosin, in its Official Community Plan,13 has the following
commitments to conserve biodiversity.
Biological diversity must be
treated more seriously as a
global resource, to be
indexed, used, and above
all, preserved. Three
circumstances conspire to
give this matter an
unprecedented urgency.
First, exploding human
populations are degrading
the environment at an
accelerating rate…. Second,
science is discovering new
uses for biological diversity
in ways that can relieve
both human suffering and
environmental destruction.
Third, much of the diversity
is being irreversibly lost
through extinction caused
by the destruction of natural
habitats….
— E.O. Wilson
To promote the conservation of the biodiversity of the
district—the variety of natural communities, native wild
species and populations, and domesticated species and
populations.
To identify and preserve sensitive natural environments for
future generations and to maintain sufficient lands in their
natural state so that rare and diverse plant and animal life will
continue to exist and flourish.
12
13
Regional District of Nanaimo 1997.
Metchosin 1995.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 3
Introduction
Today, there is a recognition and concern on the part of most levels
of government and others for the need to protect the remaining
biological diversity within their jurisdictions. But who does it fall
to to implement biodiversity conservation measures?
Who is responsible for
conservation?
Much of the SEI study area is private land, a good part of which
was granted to railway companies in the 1800s.14 Private
landowners, therefore, along with government agencies, are an
important part of the conservation equation. But conservation
planning and management of sensitive ecosystems is not solely the
responsibility of governments and landowners. Ultimately, the
responsibility falls on each of us.
Co-operation and collaboration are the heart of ecosystem
conservation, because species and habitats cross property lines,
municipal boundaries, or international borders. In addition,
ecosystem management requires the expertise of many, including
landowners, naturalists, municipal planners and scientists, many of
whom have a strong relationship with the lands around them.
The following players are important to successful ecosystem
conservation planning and management.
Landowners, who communicate their goals, needs, desires,
problems and preferences about sensitive ecosystems located
on their property.
Municipal and Regional Governments, who are empowered
under the Municipal Act to enact appropriate bylaws to protect
the environment, have the means and responsibility of
integrating SEI conservation goals and priorities with other
community needs such as housing, transportation, recreation,
industry, infrastructure and services.
Developers, who can work with the other groups and create
opportunities to conserve and enhance sensitive ecosystems
through creative and flexible development design.
14
When British Columbia became a province of Canada in 1871, one of
the terms of union was a train service from Victoria to Nanaimo. Robert
Dunsmuir built the railway in exchange for a land grant of 810 million
hectares of the Nanaimo Lowland. The land was later logged or sold for
development and, as a result, most sensitive ecosystems today are on
private property.
4 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Introduction
Decision-makers, including politicians and staff at various
levels of government, who approve plans and allocate budgets
in order to achieve community goals equitably.
Consultants, including biologists, landscape architects,
planners, engineers, restoration ecologists, and foresters, who
provide technical expertise for assessing, protecting, and
restoring sensitive ecosystems.
Local Residents and Conservation Advocates, who
voluntarily enter the planning process and contribute a broad
range of expertise and viewpoints. They may include local
ratepayers groups, service organisations, naturalist clubs, and
community land trusts and conservancies. These groups often
provide the local link for establishing landowner contact and
voluntary private land stewardship programs, and can initiate
awareness and fund-raising campaigns for conservation.
Ecologists, Biologists and Other Scientists, from
environmental agencies in several levels of government, who
have identified SEI areas for conservation, and have the
expertise necessary to help formulate conservation plans and
implement management techniques.
Trumpeter Swans
(R. Savannah)
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 5
2 Ecosystems of Concern
Why the Concern?
M
ost of us, when we think about it, realise that we depend
upon biological diversity for our foods, medicines, and
the raw materials with which we manufacture industrial
products such as fibres for clothing, lumber, or pulp. Plants and
animals also provide us with countless hours of recreational
enjoyment through activities such as gardening, birdwatching and
eco-tourism. All these activities serve to bolster the economy.
But there’s more to biodiversity than simply being an economic
generator. Ecosystems regulate our climate, clean our freshwater,
regulate and clean atmospheric gases, treat our wastes, generate
and clean our soils, maintain genetic diversity, maintain the water
cycle, recycle nutrients and pollinate our crops. Simply put, at no
cost to us, ecosystems provide the services that allow us to live on
the Earth.
Those who are really
concerned with the
environment—concerned
with the well-being of
posterity—must give the
carrying capacity of the
environment precedence
over discontinuous human
needs, however much these
needs may tug at our
heartstrings.
— Garret Hardin
If we had to pay for these services, what might they cost?
Recently, a team of ecologists and economists estimated the
annual value of the world’s ecosystems taking into account all the
services the ecosystems provide.15 The team found that,
conservatively, ecosystems provide at least US$33 trillion worth
of services annually, which can be compared to a world GNP of
around US$18 trillion per year.
15
Costanza et al. 1997.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 7
Ecosystems of Concern
If significant irreversible
thresholds are passed for
irreplaceable ecosystem
services, their value may
quickly jump to infinity.
— Costanza et al.
Sadly, ecosystems are not fully considered in the marketplace nor
are they valued along with other economic services and
manufactured capital. In the past, if they were considered at all,
they were given too little weight in policy decisions.16
Thus, it is easy to understand why much of the natural lands of
eastern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands have been reduced
to small remnants of former ecosystems that once defined the
character of the region. Through the effects of our past activities,
we have reduced our children’s options along with those of future
generations, by allowing the degradation and loss of these
important areas.
What are Sensitive
Ecosystems?
Here, an ecosystem is
defined as a portion of
landscape with a relatively
uniform dominant
vegetation. A sensitive
ecosystem is one which is
rare and/or fragile.
The Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory (SEI) distinguishes between
sensitive ecosystems and other important ecosystems. Sensitive
ecosystems refers to the seven relatively unmodified,17 rare and
fragile terrestrial18 ecosystem types identified for this project (see
Table 1). For many of these natural ecosystems, only remnants
remain due to disturbance from human activities over the past 150
years. However, these remnant ecosystems possess qualities that
make them important in the physical and social fabric of our
communities and significant from both a provincial and national
perspective.
Sensitive ecosystems provide, within developed landscapes,
patches of natural areas that have intrinsic value and are critical to
the survival of many species. They also play a significant role in
creating healthy and attractive communities for people. Wetlands
purify drinking water and protect from flooding; forests clean the
air, refresh the spirit and provide visual relief from urban settings;
open hilltop meadows carpeted with spring wildflowers provide
spectacular views and resting places and riparian forests are cool,
moist havens during the summer.
16
Costanza et al. 1997.
Some of the sensitive ecosystems have undergone minor
modifications. They are included in the inventory because of their rarity,
because their ecosystem functions do not appear to have been impaired,
and because of the relative ease by which the modifications could be
removed and the site restored.
18
Streams, lakes and marine areas are equally important, although not
included in this particular inventory.
17
8 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Ecosystems of Concern
The two other important ecosystems are partially modified or are
non-natural (see Table 2). They function as reservoirs for
biodiversity in otherwise highly developed and urbanised
landscapes, act as buffers between developed areas and the more
fragile ecosystems and provide wildlife corridors and important
habitat niches throughout developed areas. Even these modified
ecosystems are increasingly threatened by development.
Table 1: Sensitive Ecosystems
Code
Sensitive
Ecosystems
Ecosystem Description 19
CB
Coastal Bluff
Vegetated rocky islets, rocky shoreline/grassland,
rocky shoreline/moss or coastal cliff
SV
Sparsely Vegetated
Sand dunes, gravel spits and inland cliffs with
sparse vegetation
HT
Terrestrial
Herbaceous
Mosaics of rare coastal grassland and/or mosscovered rock outcrops; typically occur as
openings in forested areas or adjacent to Garry
oak woodlands
WN
Wetland
Wet soil and moisture-dependent plants; includes
bogs, fens, marsh, swamps, shallow water and
wet meadow
RI
Riparian
All stages of floodplain vegetation including
riparian ecosystems associated with lake
shorelines and gullies
WD
Woodland
Open stands of Garry oak or trembling aspen;
mixed stands of Douglas fir-Garry oak and
Douglas fir-arbutus
OF
Older Forest
Older than 100 years; coniferous, or mixed with
broadleaf species
Characteristic vegetation for
each sensitive ecosystem type
within the SEI study area is
provided in Chapters 5 - 11.
Table 2: Other Important Ecosystems
Code
Other Important
Ecosystems
Ecosystem Description
SG
Older Second Growth Larger stands of 60-100 year old forest;
Forest
coniferous, or mixed with broadleaf component
FS
Seasonally Flooded
Agricultural Field
Fields regularly flooded in winter months
19
Expanded descriptions of each ecosystem type can be found in
Ward et al. 1998.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 9
Ecosystems of Concern
The SEI project systematically identified, classified, and mapped
these nine ecosystems. Although they were mapped individually,
they are interdependent and should not be looked at in isolation.
They must also be considered within the context of the overall
landscape that includes sensitive terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems
as well as some partially modified and non-natural ecosystems.
Why are these Ecosystems
Important?
Our ethical boundaries
should expand to include
soils, waters, plants and
animals, or, collectively: the
land. It is necessary to do
this, not just because we love
nature, but because we are
connected with it. We eat
from it, we drink from it, it is
our life-support system.
Caring for it is no different
from caring for ourselves.
The ecological attributes and socio-economic values that are
common to all SEI ecosystems are discussed below. Values and
attributes unique to individual ecosystem types are discussed in the
ecosystem chapters (Chapters 5 - 13).
Ecological Attributes
Rarity is a primary feature of sensitive ecosystems. It can be
the result of human-related activities over the last 150 years or
a measure of limited natural occurrence, both in terms of
distribution and density. A species or ecosystem may be
considered rare because it occurs at low densities or abundance,
despite widespread distribution. A second kind of natural rarity
comes about when species or ecosystems have high densities
(many individuals) but occur only in a localised area.
— Aldo Leopold20
In each of the sensitive ecosystem chapters (Chapters 5 - 11),
selected provincially rare (red- and blue-listed) species and
natural plant communities21 as of May 2000 are noted, as well
as some uncommon and introduced species (see sidebar).
Conservation Data Centre
web site:
www.elp.gov.bc.ca/rib/wis/cdc
Fragility is a measure of an ecosystem’s sensitivity to a range
of disturbance factors that could lead to ecosystem decline or
loss of ecosystem health or integrity. These factors could
include direct physical impacts, introduction of invasive
Check this web site for the
latest ranks for rare plants,
animals, and natural plant
communities, since the status
of these changes over time.
20
Known as the father of the land ethic.
Rare natural plant communities listed in this manual refer exclusively
to those at a “climax” successional stage and relatively undisturbed by
humans or domestic animals. An example of this is the Douglas-fir / salal
plant association, an old-growth forest type which is extremely rare due to
logging and development. By looking at the name alone, this plant
community could easily be confused with the young second growth
stands of Douglas-fir and salal that have replaced the original old-growth
forest. If these second growth forests were classified, they would have a
unique name to distinguish them from the older successional stage that
they replaced.
21
10 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Ecosystems of Concern
species and fragmentation. Many of the SEI ecosystem types
are fragile because they depend on complex ecological
processes that are easily disrupted.
High biodiversity is a common feature of most SEI
ecosystems, largely because of the juxtaposition or mix of
different ecosystem types.
Specialised habitats occur throughout the SEI ecosystems.
These microhabitats and niches support many species of plants
and animals. Typically, these ecosystems are habitat for rare,
threatened or endangered species or communities. Some of
these occur nowhere else in British Columbia or Canada and
their loss would result in the loss of biodiversity.
Socio-economic Values
Green space networks for the region are formed by the various
ecosystems. The diverse mix of species in some ecosystems,
such as woodlands and older forests, enhances the potential for
human enjoyment (including spiritual, inspirational and
aesthetic) and for interaction with wildlife. The networks also
provide greenways, such as riparian corridors or gullies, that
form the backbone of many linear park systems.
High scenic values of vegetated rocky bluffs, shorelines and
islets, spits, dunes and inland cliffs and patches of meadow in
an otherwise forested landscape, provide excellent opportunities
for spectacular ocean or mountain views. These areas are often
targeted for both recreational and residential development. The
scenic beauty of these and other ecosystems attracts visitors and
is a source of pride and pleasure for local residents.
Pileated
Woodpecker
(D. Gunn)
Outdoor recreation opportunities are provided by the SEI
ecosystems when they occur on public parks and accessible
open spaces where low-impact activities will not damage the
habitat. Some of these are accessible to all income groups,
particularly those who cannot afford the costs of “getting away
to nature”. Wildlife viewing is very important to Canadians22
and contributes to our quality of life. Other passive recreational
activities appropriate to some of the sensitive ecosystems
include photography, painting and sketching, and nature
appreciation.
Research and nature education are important at all levels of
the school system from early childhood through to university
research as well as in adult and continuing education programs.
22
Environment Canada 1999.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 11
Ecosystems of Concern
Many schools are now working with local groups on school
projects (e.g., Streamkeepers and Wetlandkeepers) and most
have a focus on native plant community creation and wildlife
habitat restoration. Children and their families are learning
directly about the need and means by which to care for the
environment. Some communities have nature centres (e.g.,
Swan Lake in Victoria) which provide opportunities for local
and regional community ecosystem conservation efforts
through educational programs, hands-on workshops and
conservation-based recreational activities such as Scotch
Broom removal days.
Eco-tourism is of growing economic importance and
considerable expenditures are made for wildlife viewing.23
Eco-tourism can also lead to increases in nearby commercial
and service activities such as overnight accommodation, food
concessions, and such ventures as shoreline kayaking and
guided nature trips. Annual events such as the Brant Wildlife
Festival in Qualicum Beach make significant contributions to
the local economy as they attract visitors from well beyond the
host community. For example, in 1993, the festival brought
over $400,000 to the local area for the two-day event.24
Resource extraction activities, such as the forestry and fishing
industries, have benefited generations of Vancouver Island and
Gulf Island residents and the remaining forests continue to
provide economic benefits to those who harvest salal, pine
mushrooms and yew bark.
Increased property value is another benefit of green space
and wild lands. Studies show that undeveloped green space
measurably increases the value of property nearby25 by
between 5 and 32 percent26 and thus contributes far more in
property taxes than it costs in services.27 Green space and
wildlands can enhance the economic prospects of a community
by creating a new image for business opportunities.
Horticultural industry benefits can occur from the upsurge in
interest of native plant gardening and backyard wildlife habitat
creation. These also benefit landscape businesses in a
community.
23
24
25
26
27
See previous note.
Mid Island Wildlife Watch Society.
Meadows 1999.
U.S. National Parks Service 1990
Fodor 1999.
12 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Ecosystems of Concern
Sensitive Ecosystems
Inventory (SEI)
The purpose of the SEI project was to develop an inventory
information base that would support sound land management
decisions and promote good land stewardship of remnant rare and
fragile terrestrial ecosystems. The goal was to provide senior levels
of government with necessary data for a variety of resource
management issues, and to provide municipalities, regional
districts and the Islands Trust easier access to data for use in
developing Regional Growth Strategies, Official Community Plans,
Local Area Plans, Greenspaces and Parks Plans. It can be used a
red ‘flag’ for more detailed mapping during these local planning
processes. It can also be used in assessing development proposals
and can provide land developers, public interest groups and the
public with scientific information in support of conservation.
See Volume 1 for further
discussion of inventory
methods and results
Study Area
The study area (Figure 1) of eastern Vancouver Island and the
adjacent Gulf Islands encompasses approximately 4,120 square
kilometres. The region, which has one of the highest population
growth rates in British Columbia, is where seventeen of every
twenty Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands residents (85%) live.28
Maps
The SEI maps29 were developed using Arc/Info Geographic
Information System (GIS). Nearly 7,400 sites were identified on
air photos by experienced ecologists. Nearly two-thirds of the air
photos were at a scale of 1:10,000 or larger and most of the rest
were at 1:15,000. Thus, although the scale of the final maps was
1:20,000, the delineation of the site boundaries was accurate to the
scale of the photos that is closer to the 1:5,000 (or larger) scale
typically used for local land use planning.
The minimum targeted mapping size was 0.5 ha—an area 50m by
100m—for most ecosystems. However, many smaller wetlands
were mapped due to their visibility on the air photos. Larger
minimum sizes were considered more appropriate for forested
ecosystems.
28
1996 Census.
Paper maps may be viewed at various locations throughout the study area
and are available for purchase. Digital map files in Arc/Info formats and
field data are also available upon request. See Appendix H for contacts.
29
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 13
Ecosystems of Concern
Figure 1: SEI Study Area
14 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Ecosystems of Concern
Overall, about 30% of the sites were visited to verify the initial air
photo interpretations and to evaluate the condition of the sites (see
Appendix G).
Both digital and hardcopy map formats were produced. The full set
of 66 full-colour paper maps are at a scale of 1:20,000. Each map
sheet includes a description of the project rationale, the ecological
significance of ecosystems mapped, and a brief account of methods
used. Photo centres and flight lines are labelled on each map and
listed in a table indicating the photography dates. Another table lists
each SEI polygon mapped and identifies the classification given to
both primary and secondary ecosystem components with a notation
of whether or not a field visit was made to assist users who need
more detailed ecological information.
Inventory Results
Collectively the seven sensitive ecosystems cover 7.9% of the study
area. Most of the study area (92.1%) is covered by ‘modified’
landscapes, defined here as urban and rural landscapes and forests
younger than 100 years. The two other
important ecosystems mapped during
this project cover 11.6% of the study
area, primarily due to large stands of
Modified Landscapes
older second growth forest (see Table 3).
92.1%
The inventory results were tabulated
based on the dominant or primary
ecosystem type present; in most cases
the coloured polygons on the maps
represent only one ecosystem type.
However, in approximately 20% of the
sites, more than one ecosystem was
present and could not be delineated
separately. It was therefore necessary
to classify those sites using both a
Coastal Bluff 0.3%
primary and secondary ecosystem
types in order to accurately describe
Terrestrial Herbaceous 1%
them.30 The tabular results do not
Sparsely Vegetated <0.1%
reflect this, since it was not possible to
Woodland 0.6%
accurately measure the cover of
Sensitive Ecosystems
dominant and secondary ecosystems
7.9%
within one polygon.
30
Wetland 1.7%
Riparian 1.6%
Older Forest 2.6%
See Volume 1, Section 2.3.2 for details.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 15
Ecosystems of Concern
Table 3: Summary of inventory results by sub-unit and dominant ecosystem type
Sensitive Ecosystems
Comox
Sub-unit
Nanaimo
Sub-unit
Cowichan
Sub-unit
Capital
Sub-unit
Islands
Sub-unit
Study Area
total
108,154.8
26
95,048.1
23
81,973.4
20
61,792.7
15
65,157.5
16
412,126.4
100
34.2
<0.1
13
35.5
<0.1
25
41.8
<0.1
30
312.1
0.5
116
619.4
0.9
407
1043.0
0.3
591
92.7
<0.1
28
42.9
<0.1
17
24.6
<0.1
7
38.0
<0.1
9
136.2
0.2
25
344.4
<0.1
86
hectares
% of land area
no of sites
1327.3
1.2
284
446.0
0.5
195
744.0
0.9
223
1042.6
1.7
274
683.0
1.0
159
4243.0
1.0
1135
hectares
% of land area
no of sites
3271.4
3.0
879
1556.8
1.6
630
1196.2
1.5
522
537.9
0.9
403
491.6
0.8
211
7053.9
1.7
2645
hectares
% of land area
no of sites
2618.0
2.6
393
2152.5
2.3
245
1323.8
1.6
243
381.7
0.6
73
36.5
<0.1
6
6712.5
1.6
960
hectares
% of land area
no of sites
24.3
<0.1
5
82.0
<0.1
15
357.2
0.4
58
1156.3
1.9
275
898.9
1.4
260
2518.8
0.6
613
1117.0
1.0
81
1463.4
1.5
77
729.7
0.9
83
5031.9
8.1
104
2263.3
3.5
125
10605.1
2.6
470
10379
8.0
1683
5779.2
6.1
1204
4417.2
5.4
1166
9771.3
13.8
1254
5128.9
7.8
1193
32510.7
7.9
6500
area of sub-unit in hectares
% of total study area
Coastal Bluff
hectares
% of land area
no of sites
Sparsely Vegetated
hectares
% of land area
no of sites
Terrestrial Herbaceous
Wetland
Riparian
Woodland
Older Forest
hectares
% of land area
no of sites
TOTAL
Sensitive Ecosystems
hectares
% of land area
no of sites
16 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Ecosystems of Concern
Table 3 continued
Other Important
Ecosystems
area of sub-unit in hectares
% of total study area
Comox
Sub-unit
Nanaimo
Sub-unit
Cowichan
Sub-unit
Capital
Sub-unit
Islands
Sub-unit
Study Area
total
108,154.8
26
95,048.1
23
81,973.4
20
61,792.7
15
65,157.5
16
412,126.4
100
8594.2
7.9
49
7728.5
8.1
69
3294.1
4.0
35
10754.8
17.4
124
14519.0
22.3
337
44890.6
10.9
614
491.4
0.5
12
956.8
1.0
101
772.5
0.9
83
325.2
0.5
26
232.9
0.4
52
2778.7
0.7
274
31604
8.4
61
8685.3
9.1
170
15369.9
5.0
118
32058.3
17.9
150
14751.8
22.7
389
47669.3
11.6
888
Older Second Growth
hectares
% of land area
no of sites
Seasonally Flooded
Agricultural Fields
hectares
% of land area
no of sites
Total Other Ecosystems
hectares
% of land area
no of sites
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 17
3 Impacts of Concern
T
he incremental progression of urban and rural development,
intensive agricultural use, logging and the construction of
roads, railways, and power lines have all played a part in the
rapid decline of sensitive ecosystems in the study area over the last
150 years. The consequences of these activities have been dramatic
in terms of both the fragmentation of natural ecosystems into
smaller and more isolated areas, and the growing list of
endangered and threatened plant and animal species that depend
upon these ecosystems for their continued existence. Some citizens
also feel that there is a declining quality of life in communities that
have lost their connection to their environment.
Many of the impacts have occurred incrementally over a long time
period and are not always immediately apparent. Several
landscape-wide concerns that seriously impact all ecosystems are
discussed below and include landscape fragmentation, edge effects
and invasive species introduction; climate change may also have
far-reaching effects. Some activities have direct impacts on an
ecosystem, whereas others may be indirect, such as causing a
change in hydrology of a wetland area.
This chapter describes impacts of concern that apply to ecosystems
in general. How these impacts affect individual ecosystems and
how each ecosystem should be managed to conserve its functions
and values will be dealt with in the individual ecosystem chapters
(see Chapters 5 - 13).
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 19
Impacts of Concern
Landscape Fragmentation
The SEI has identified and documented the location and attributes
of nine separate ecosystem types; however, these ecosystems relate
to one another on a larger landscape level. In recent years,
conservation biologists and environmental planners have
increasingly focused on the broader landscape and the interconnectedness of ecosystems across it. The landscape, in this case,
refers to a large area of land (usually 50 to 5000 ha) that is a
composite of landforms, ecosystems, and land uses. Another way
to define landscape is the extent of what one can see in one view
using the unaided human eye.
In the SEI study area, the patterns of ecosystem distribution repeat
themselves across the landscape. Riparian ecosystems surrounding
streams and rivers snake across valley bottoms. Dense conifer
forests are found on the lower flanks of the mountains, whereas the
lowlands are a mosaic of urban areas, farms, highways, and
patches of forest. Woodlands occur on south facing slopes and
rocky hills. These patterns can be used to guide planning initiatives
to protect or maintain the connectedness of sensitive ecosystems
across the landscape.
Fragmentation breaks the landscape into a series of isolated islands
of habitat within developed areas. It has several general effects on
sensitive ecosystems. It reduces the amount of land available to
support functioning ecosystems because highways, railways, power
lines, subdivisions, and logged areas occupy land that was once
woodland, forest, or wetland. It limits the ability of species to
move between habitat islands or colonise available habitat.
Fragmentation also increases edge effects (see below), breaks
down ecosystem landscape-level processes, and makes ecosystems
more susceptible to the introduction of invasive species.
Wildlife species depend on a series of inter-connected habitat
patches. Without connections to other patches, many parks and
undeveloped areas are too small to protect species or populations
that require large home ranges or seasonal migrations. A black bear
may have a winter den under a hollow Sitka spruce stump in a river
floodplain, eat skunk cabbage roots in a redcedar swamp ten
kilometres away in spring, and use a corn field and apple orchard on
the suburban fringe in the fall. Seasonal or daily variation in habitat
use depends on appropriate corridors or linkages to connect habitat
patches. Wildlife corridors allow dispersal of individuals or species
between habitats. This helps maintain genetic diversity, and may
20 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Impacts of Concern
also allow for recolonisation of habitat patches following
disturbance or loss of small local populations.
Invasive Species
The introduction of invasive species is one of the most widespread
disturbance factors in sensitive ecosystems. Although this effect is
less catastrophic than fragmentation or direct impacts on
ecosystems, it can cause localised problems in many sensitive
ecosystem types. Invasive species include many non-native plants
and animals as well as some native species that rapidly colonise
ecosystems because of their competitive abilities or adaptations to
disturbed sites.
For example, English ivy and English holly are widespread in
forests, riparian ecosystems, and some types of wetlands because
birds disperse their seeds from gardens. They can cause localised
problems for native trees or understorey species. Woodland,
terrestrial herbaceous, and coastal bluff ecosystems often support
high numbers of introduced grasses, Scotch broom, and other
species. Spurge-laurel, English ivy, and English holly colonise
older and second-growth forest near developed areas. Purple
loosestrife and yellow-flag iris can displace native wetland species.
Domestic or feral cats, dogs, sheep, and goats can cause localised
problems in some ecosystem types. Even introduced European
slugs have been identified as one cause of the decline of some
wildflower species in oak woodlands. Domestic pets, such as cats
and dogs, that are allowed to roam freely, can become predators
responsible for unnecessary injury and death of wild species. For
example, domestic cats can seriously affect bird populations and
have been implicated in the extinction of over 20 species of
wildlife.31 Many research studies over the past 10 years, indicate
that free-ranging cats prey largely on small mammals, songbirds,
insects, snakes, and lizards. In particular, significant impacts have
been noted on urban birds, ground-nesting birds and birds at
feeders. When the species is rare, even the loss of a single
breeding individual can affect the survival of the species.
Some invasive species
English ivy
English holly
Scotch broom
spurge-laurel
purple loosestrife
yellow-flag iris
reed canary grass
European Starling
dogs
cats
feral sheep
feral goats
European slugs
Together, invasive, non-native species are a serious threat to the
ecological integrity of sensitive ecosystems in the study area.
31
Herron 1995.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 21
Impacts of Concern
Edge Effects
Edge effects, caused by fragmentation and adjacent development,
include the introduction of non-native plants species and domestic
cats, or other species into the core sensitive ecosystem. The
blowdown of trees next to the boundary of new clear-cuts is a
common example of an edge effect. Others are more subtle. Some
bird species avoid nesting near edges because of increased
predation or other disturbances. Smaller ecosystem islands may be
more susceptible to edge effects because of the predominance of
edge habitat compared to interior habitat. Generally, ecologists
describe three types of edge effects:
Abiotic effects—Microclimate changes, including air
temperature, wind speed, light levels, soil temperature, and
relative humidity were examined near clear-cut edges of forest
patches in Oregon.32 Although the changes to these factors
varied considerably, the depth of edge influence could be
greater than 240 metres in some situations. Edge orientation
was an important modifier of microclimate change; southwestfacing edges experienced the greatest microclimate changes.
Direct biological effects—Researchers have also studied effects
of adjacent residential development on the use of forest patches
by migrant songbirds. Diversity and abundance of migrant
songbirds consistently declined as density of houses outside the
forest patch increased.33 The presence of domestic cats and grey
squirrels or disturbance (e.g., noise) avoidance was put forward
as a possible explanation for this decline. Other researchers
found reduced bird use along road corridors because of traffic
noise and collisions between birds and vehicles.34
Indirect biological effects—Edges also provide a mechanism
for introducing new species into forest habitats. These species
tend to be generalists, with excellent dispersal abilities and
capable of colonising disturbed habitats. For example,
following the construction of an interstate highway in Maine,
researchers found 16 percent of the bird species within 100
metres of the new highway to be “edge” species, whereas this
group comprised less than 4 percent of the bird species in the
100 to 400 metre zone.35 The effect is not just the intrusion of
these edge species into the original avian community. There is
evidence that edge species include nest predators and brood
32
33
34
35
Chen et al. 1995.
Friesen et al. 1995.
Reijnen et al. 1997; Kuitunen et al. 1998.
Feriis 1979.
22 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Impacts of Concern
parasites such as the Brown-headed Cowbird that can reduce
breeding success of the forest interior species.
Global Climate Change
Global climate change is no longer supposition; most atmospheric
scientists now agree that human activities around the Earth are
affecting the climate. In September 1999, the Environment Program
of the United Nations concluded: “indications are that it is too late
to prevent global warming as a result of increased greenhouse gas
emissions.”36
Greenhouse gas emissions will continue to increase and one—
carbon dioxide—is expected to be double the pre-industrial level
by 2030. As global warming increases, changes in precipitation
patterns and temperature may occur that could have far-reaching
effects on these ecosystems (see sidebar).37 Any habitat changes
associated with climate changes are difficult to predict; however,
they could result in a complete change of species within the
ecosystem.
Global climate models
under a carbon dioxide
doubling scenario predict
winter and summer
temperature increases in
the SEI study area of 3 to
4ºC and 2 to 3ºC
respectively. Precipitation
changes would include
winter increases of 30 to
40% and summer declines
of 10%.
Direct Impacts
Direct impacts occur on site and are the most visible. Direct
impacts on sensitive and other important ecosystems include:
Vegetation removal for construction, forestry, agriculture and
recreation purposes. As well, snags and falling limbs are
removed next to roads, buildings, and trails because of safety
concerns.
Vegetation damage from activities such as walking on fragile
vegetation, riding mountain bikes, horses and motorised offroad vehicles (trail bikes and all-terrain vehicles), and grazing
and trampling by livestock and feral animals.
Soils removal or compaction caused by increased human
access from trails or adjacent residential areas and livestock
trampling; trails directly under trees may compact the root
zone and lead to deterioration in tree health.
Ditching, draining and/or filling in aquatic ecosystems.
Wildlife disturbance—Nesting bird species are particularly
vulnerable. Disturbance at a critical time could have serious
consequences ranging from crushed eggs as disturbed birds
36
37
United Nations Environment Program 1999.
Harding and Taylor 1994.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 23
Impacts of Concern
leave their nests, to increased predation of the eggs by jays,
crows and ravens, to premature fledging of the young, to
complete abandonment of the nest. The nesting season for many
coastal bird species ranges from March through August.38
Indirect Impacts
Indirect impacts causing habitat and species degradation are
commonly associated with activities that are upstream, adjacent to,
or distant from the ecosystems and may also be expressed over a
short- or long-term period. Off-site impacts do not directly cause
loss of trees, plant communities, or wildlife; however, their effects
can be severe if careful planning and management is not
undertaken. Examples of such impacts include:
Changes to hydrology caused by development, deforestation,
ditching, draining, increased impervious surfacing (e.g.
rooftops, sidewalks, and highways), agriculture or even trail
construction, can often affect adjacent ecosystems through the
reduction of the total amount of groundwater infiltration,
reduction of summer soil moisture,
increased mean annual runoff by reduction in
evapotranspiration losses,
increased size, duration, and frequency of flood events,
disruption of surface and groundwater drainage patterns
upon which nearby or even distant plant communities
depend,
reduction of the storage capacity of the soil layer due to
subsurface drainage associated with agriculture.
Changes to natural disturbance regimes—Activities such as
dyking, channel engineering, fire suppression and the
construction of jetties, breakwaters and docks can result in
disruption of natural erosion processes which maintain
coastal ecosystems such as dunes and spits,
prevention of fire regimes which enhance the structural
diversity of forested ecosystems and maintain open
woodlands by suppressing conifer and shrub growth,
prevention of natural flooding which can reduce the
structural diversity and complexity of wetland and riparian
ecosystems resulting in the loss of habitats upon which
many species depend.
38
Campbell et al. 1990a, b; 1997
24 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Impacts of Concern
Water pollution—Both point and non-point source pollution
can come from the filling of wetlands, runoff from urban areas
and farmlands (e.g. nitrates and agricultural and forestry
pesticides entering the surface water and ground water,
seepage from septic systems and landfills, runoff from roads),
deforestation, construction activities near wetlands and other
water bodies, and air pollution. Significant impacts to water
quality resulting from the removal of streambank vegetation
have been documented. Improper forest practices can be a
source of increased sedimentation and other pollution problems
that directly impact the quality of drinking water from forested
watersheds.39 These factors may
increase the incidence of water-borne disease,
affect the safe consumption of water by humans,
increase the loss of habitat or food for wildlife and deplete
their populations,
disrupt the food chain,
impact, over the long term, wildlife reproduction and
breeding success that ultimately threatens the survival of
some species.
The clock cannot be turned back, but it is possible to rescue,
preserve, protect, restore and enhance the ecosystem remnants so
that they function well for future generations of humans and
wildlife species that are dependent on them. Impacts at the
landscape scale can be mitigated by landscape policy, planning,
and management tools.
39
Binkley and Brown 1993.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 25
4 Planning and Management
Planning for Conservation
E
ffective conservation planning and management requires an
understanding of the rarity, fragility, and vulnerability of
sensitive ecosystems to all types of human disturbance. The
dynamic nature of each ecosystem must be identified, along with
the need to recognise both their geographical and ecological
interconnections with the surrounding landscape (e.g., uplands,
lakes, and coastal waters).
Primary Goals
The primary goals of the guidelines presented throughout this
manual reflect the differences between the two types of SEI
ecosystems (see sidebar):
The aim is not to prevent
changes from taking place—
ecosystems and species will
change even without the
actions of man. It is, rather,
to ensure that nothing in the
existing natural order is
permitted to become
permanently lost as the
result of man’s activities
except in the most unusual
and carefully examined
circumstances.
— David W. Ehrenfeld
Sensitive ecosystem guidelines seek to conserve the seven
sensitive ecosystems in a relatively natural state.
Other important ecosystem guidelines seek to maintain the
resource use values of the two other important ecosystems
while minimising the loss of ecosystem functions.
Information Requirements
Sound information is needed to establish a basis for effective
conservation planning. This report deals with SEI information that
is primarily at an overview level and is adequate for broad
landscape planning purposes. However, proposed activities which
have the potential to impact any of the SEI areas identified will
require further refinement and confirmation of the existing
information by detailed site surveys, field studies, and
groundtruthing.
Sensitive Ecosystems
Coastal Bluff
Sparsely Vegetated
Terrestrial Herbaceous
Wetland
Riparian
Woodland
Older Forest
Other Important Ecosystems
Older Second Growth Forest
Seasonally Flooded
Agricultural Field
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 27
Planning and Management
Established procedures should be followed for verifying and
groundtruthing areas of interest (see Guidelines for Site
Conservation Evaluation40 and Appendix F) in co-operation with
environmental agencies, fish and wildlife agencies, qualified
professional consultants, the public and non-government
organisations. This could involve workshops, open houses, advisory
groups, or other participatory approaches to gather local knowledge
and information.
The following steps are recommended to those responsible for local
area planning. Management recommendations for site-specific
concerns are described in the individual ecosystem chapters (see
Chapters 5 - 13).
Examples of existing plans
Develop a Local Ecosystems Plan
Green and Blue Spaces
Strategy, Capital Regional
District
An ecosystems plan can be developed by local governments
through existing mechanisms such as Greenways, Parks and Open
Spaces strategies, Official Community Plans, Regional Growth
Strategies and biodiversity frameworks (see sidebar).
Millstream Creek Watershed
Management Plan, Regional
District of Nanaimo
Identify the network of ecosystems that exists within the
larger landscape and any rare, threatened, or endangered
species, communities or habitat features that are locally or
provincially significant. Identify isolated ecosystems that
require the (re) establishment of linkages.
The Millard - Piercy
Watershed Management
Plan—stewards have now
mapped land use and
resources, including
sensitive ecosystems, within
a small Courtenay area
watershed and estimated
projected buildout. Their
goal is an integrated
watershed management plan
that will be recognized and
adopted into official
planning processes by
local government.
Promote connectivity between, and discourage fragmentation
of, contiguous ecosystems to preserve landscape diversity, and
allow wildlife use, movement, and dispersal. The impact of
large-scale developments, roads and other linear developments
on habitat connections should be evaluated and mitigated as
part of an environmental impact assessment.
(Re) establish or enhance wildlife corridors and linkages
with larger ecosystem networks. Seasonal or daily variation in
habitat use depends on appropriate corridors or linkages to
connect habitat patches (see page 20).
40
Kirkby 1998.
28 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Planning and Management
Develop a Protection Strategy
Because of the rarity and vulnerability of these sensitive
ecosystems, all are considered a priority for protection in the SEI
study area. Most sensitive ecosystems are on private property,41 so
the co-operation of landowners is extremely important in the longterm conservation of these ecosystems. Landowners working in
concert with local government and conservation organisations can
make a significant contribution towards the sustainability of these
ecosystems. Various tools and mechanisms are available for
ecosystem protection depending on the ownership and management
policies of the existing land managers. Once land status is
determined, appropriate measures may be taken, including:
See Section Two (pages
149 - 203) for a
discussion of available
conservation tools
Designation as Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA)—In
the identification of local government ESAs, the seven
sensitive ecosystems should receive a priority designation. In
some cases, site boundaries should reflect the dynamic nature
of the ecosystem (see Delineate Buffers around Sensitive
Ecosystems below).
Chapter 14 discusses the
various conservation
planning tools available
to local governments
Designation as nature or ecological reserve or other such
protected status—The most undisturbed, publicly owned of
these remaining ecosystem fragments could be set aside with
limited access for research, field studies and low-impact
recreation.
Chapter 16 discusses the
range of federal and
provincial legislation that
may be used to protect
ecosystems
Acquisition of privately owned lands containing sensitive
ecosystems could be pursued by both government and nongovernment organisations.
Stewardship—Private landowners who wish to retain
ownership could become involved in voluntary stewardship
initiatives, such as registering conservation covenants on their
property to protect ecosystem values.42
Chapter 15 discusses
steps landowners and
other citizens can take
towards conservation.
Use other protection techniques such as cluster development,
tree protection bylaws, Development Permit Areas, restrictive
covenants and incentives.
41
42
See footnote, page 4.
Appendix A provides a list of stewardship publications.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 29
Planning and Management
General Management
Recommendations
Chapter 14 contains
suggestions for
incorporating these
principles into local
government policies and
guidelines.
This section makes general recommendations on how to manage
and protect sensitive ecosystems. Recommendations on how each
ecosystem should be managed to conserve its functions and values
will be dealt with in separate ecosystem chapters 5 through 11. For
older second growth forest and seasonally flooded agricultural
field ecosystems, conservation-oriented management practices are
discussed.
Delineate Buffers around Sensitive
Ecosystems
Buffered sensitive ecosystem
sensitive
ecosystem
buffer
Wherever possible, the sensitive ecosystem would consist of a core
area surrounded by a vegetated buffer designed to isolate the
ecosystem from outside disturbance. Buffers would bear the brunt
of edge effects such as windthrow, invasive species colonisation,
and increased access. They may also maintain microclimate
conditions that are critical to some ecosystems. Site assessment
and fieldwork by qualified professionals may be needed to
determine appropriate buffers and the best way to achieve
conservation measures.
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts
The following actions should minimise impacts to sensitive
ecosystems.
Discourage development within or adjacent to senstive
ecosystems except where it can be shown that the proposed
development will not result in significant negative impacts.
Manage both land and water access—Appropriate
management tools may include fencing, trails, elevated
boardwalks, railings, seasonal restrictions, signs and livestock
restrictions.
Prevent disturbance of nesting or breeding areas (see page
23). Specific information can be obtained from BC
Environment’s Fish and Wildlife staff or biologists from the
Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada.
Control invasive species including plants, feral animals and
pets (see page 21). Appropriate active control methods for
invasive plant species include hand clearing, pruning, mowing,
excavation, planting of appropriate native species and animal
30 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Planning and Management
fencing. In some cases a broad invasive species management
zone can be established.
Invasive species often spread from adjacent residential areas,
roadsides, or clear-cuts. Instead of using species that may
invade the sensitive ecosystem, homeowners and land
developers should be encouraged to plant native tree and herb
species to enhance or restore wildlife habitat and provide a
buffer. Native plantings could be used to demonstrate the
benefits of planting species adapted to local conditions. A
conservation management fund could be required from
developers, which would pay for active management to keep
exotic species out of adjacent sensitive ecosystems.
Allow natural disturbances and successional functions and
processes to occur—Natural ecological functions and
processes that are critical to the creation or maintenance of a
sensitive ecosystem must be maintained and protected. These
may include: hydrologic and nutrient regimes, coastal erosion,
sediment accretion, flooding, seasonal drawdown, groundwater
recharge and discharge, stream channel movement, windthrow,
tree death, fire and disease. A qualified professional may be
required to assess the potential impact of a specific activity.
For example, factors such as the source, velocity, renewal rate
and timing of water entering a wetland affect the type and
location of the wetland and the sediment nutrients which, in
turn, affect the ecosystem characteristics such as species
composition, primary productivity and nutrient cycles.
Activities including ditching and draining, or the creation of
large hardwood plantations adjacent to a wetland, such as the
many poplar plantations springing up in the SEI study area,
may have a profound effect on these wetland ecosystems.
Maintain water quality—In the SEI study area, marine waters,
lakes, wetlands, creeks and rivers provide drinking water,
agricultural capabilities, habitat for fish and other wildlife,
recreational activities, and aesthetic enjoyment. Clean water is
essential for all those important needs. It is critical to the
survival of resident and anadromous fish and a wide variety of
other organisms, from aquatic insects, to molluscs, to the higher
vertebrates such as the birds and mammals that feed on them.
Canadian Drinking Water
Standards provide minimum
water quality criteria for
human consumption.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 31
Planning and Management
Develop Carefully
Check for existing
inventory information
with
Canadian Wildlife Service,
Environment Canada
Ministry of Environment,
Lands and Parks
B.C. Conservation Data
Centre43
Local governments
Local naturalists
Environmental groups
Universities
First Nations
Local governments could
help restrict the introduction
of invasive plant species by
encouraging landowners
and developers to landscape
with native species that
have adapted to that
specific habitat. This simple
action would also reduce
water consumption as well
as pesticide and chemical
fertiliser use in or near
these fragile areas.
In cases where land development activities cannot be excluded
from sensitive ecosystems, those activities should be planned,
designed and implemented in a manner that will not adversely
affect the functions and values of the core ecosystem.
In order to determine the specific core ecosystem values of specific
sites, a qualified professional should conduct an ecological
inventory before any land development activities take place.
Ideally, this inventory should take place through the seasons over a
period of a year. Like a shopkeeper, the land manager has to know
what is “on the shelves.” Otherwise, for example, trails could be
built over the only patch of rare orchids on the site or could pass
close to an owl nesting tree and, in each of those cases, destroy or
disturb the very values the land manager is attempting to maintain.
Local governments should require development proponents to fund
and commission ecological inventories (by qualified professionals)
in, near, or adjacent to sensitive ecosystems PRIOR to permitting
or authorising development. A qualified professional should also
interpret the available inventory data and work together with the
development proponent to incorporate designs that are sensitive to
the natural ecosystem (see sidebar), clearly delineating sensitive
areas prior to and during construction and minimising impacts to
the core ecosystem’s
vegetation, including trees, snags and root systems,
endangered, threatened or vulnerable species and natural plant
communities (and uncommon plant species) identified during
the planning and inventory stages,
terrain features such as rock and soils,
Where possible, plants
should be salvaged from the
land-clearing footprint in
areas being developed and
transplanted to other sites.
adjacent wetlands, lakes, streams and foreshore and marine
areas,
microhabitats and habitat niches characteristic of the
ecosystem, such as nesting and breeding areas.
43
The B.C. Conservation Data Centre (CDC) tracks rare plants, animals,
and natural plant communities throughout the province. Please check the
CDC website (see Appendix G) for current tracking lists.
32 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Coastal Bluff Ecosystems
Plants growing in the dry, shallow soils in rock crevices and depressions of coastal
bluff ecosystems can easily be disturbed or dislodged. (Photo: Mark Kaarremaa)
Rocky islets and other coastal bluffs are choice nesting sites
for a number of bird species such as the Turkey Vulture
(below). (Photo: above—Mark Kaarremaa; below—Neil K. Dawe)
Undisturbed coastal bluff ecosystems such
as this coastal cliff are one of the rarest
sensitive ecosystems in the study area.
(Photo: Mark Kaarremaa)
34 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
5 Coastal Bluff
What are Coastal Bluff
Ecosystems?
C
oastal bluff ecosystems include rocky shorelines with
grasslands, rocky shorelines with mosses, vegetated rocky
islets that are dominated by grasses, forbs, mosses and
lichens (CB) and coastal cliffs (CB:cl). Coastal bluff ecosystems
begin at the water’s edge, and for the pruposes of this inventory,
inlcude only lands above the high tide mark. These two classes
of coastal bluff encompass several different landforms that
provide specialised wildlife habitats, and support distinct plant
communities. Because of their general rarity, all coastal bluffs
are of conservation concern in the SEI study area.
Coastal bluff ecosystems are noted for their general lack of soils.
Glacial outwash deposits, left in rock crevices and depressions
sheltered from prevailing winds, give rise to dry, shallow soils
that support plant growth. These ecosystems are distinct because
their plant communities are formed by species adapted to hostile
environmental conditions such as salt-spray from crashing
waves, winds, storms and heat. It takes many years for organic
matter to accumulate and distinct horizons to develop. Soils are
usually sand to sandy-loam, often with high salinity
(conductivity). Steep slopes limit the accumulation of soil
organic matter to bedrock fissures on cliffs and bluffs. Thus, the
lack of continuous soil coverage on these ecosystems makes the
few microsites where soil has developed very important.
Familiar locations
Coastal bluffs
Ballenas/Winchelsea Is.
North and South Trial Is.
Yellow Point
Wallace Point
Active Pass bluffs
Coastal cliffs
Lyall Harbour
Komas Bluffs
Gordon Head
Newcastle Island
Chrome Island
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 35
Coastal Bluff Ecosystems
Because of the composition of coastal bluff soils, which typically
only have a thin organic layer to protect the surface from erosion
and disturbance, they are particularly sensitive to any type of use
or development. Plant root systems can easily be disturbed or
destroyed, causing major disruption of ecosystem components and
processes.
Rare44 plants of coastal
bluffs
Geyer’s onion (R) (Allium
geyeri var. tenerum)
contorted-pod evening primrose
(R) (Camissonia contorta)
snake-root (R) (Sanicula
arctopoides)
Carolina meadow-foxtail (R)
(Alopecurus carolinianus)
dune bentgrass (B) (Agrostis
pallens)
Tracy’s romanzoffia (B)
(Romanzoffia tracyi)
water-plantain buttercup (R,
COSEWIC-E) (Ranunculus
alismifolius)
Both coastal bluff classes generally lack continuous vegetation
cover over their entire landforms; the remainder is exposed
bedrock. Where the land mass is large enough and environmental
conditions are more conducive for upland vegetation to occur
inshore of the coastal bluffs, coastal bluff ecosystems may be
interspersed with—and share many common species with—other
SEI ecosystems such as terrestrial herbaceous, woodland, older
forest and sparsely vegetated.
Plants of coastal bluff ecosystems
Trees
Garry oak (Quercus garryana), krummholtz forms
arbutus (Arbutus menziesii)
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Rocky Mountain juniper (U) (Juniperus scopulorum),
occasionally
Shrubs
baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa)
Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana)
kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia)
oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)
snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
salal (sun-dwarfed) (Gaultheria shallon)
Herbs
California oatgrass (Danthonia californica)
Alaska brome (Bromus sitchensis)
spreading stonecrop (Sedum divergens)
broad-leaved stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium)
licorice fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza)
small-flowered alumroot (Heuchera micrantha)
brittle prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia fragilis)
entire-leaved gumweed (Grindelia integrifolia)
beach pea (Lathyrus japonicus)
Menzies’ larkspur (Delphinium menziesii)
Rare plant communities
of coastal bluffs
Idaho fescue/junegrass (R)
(Festuca
idahoensis/Koeleria
macrantha)
tiny mousetail/montia
spp./Macoun’s
meadowfoam (R)
(Myosurus minimus/Montia
spp./Limnanthes macounii)
44
Provincially endangered or threatened (R-red-listed) or vulnerable (Bblue-listed) species as of May 2000 are noted; species ranked as infrequent
or uncommon (U) are noted in the table. Nationally rare species ranked by
COSEWIC, as of May 2000, are noted as endangered (E), threatened (T)
or of special concern (SC). See Glossary for further discussion.
36 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Coastal Bluff Ecosystems
sea blush (Plectritis congesta)
tiger lily (Lilium columbianum)
death camas (Zigadenus venenosus)
nodding onion (Allium cernuum)
slimleaf onion (U) (Allium amplectens)
Hooker’s onion (U) (Allium acuminatum)
thrift (U) (Armeria maritima)
wooly eriophyllum (Eriophyllum lanatum var. lanatum)
blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia parviflora)
gold star (U) (Crocidium multicaule)
goldenback fern (U) (Pentagramma triangularis)
two-coloured lupine (U) (Lupinus bicolor)
common camas (Camassia quamash)
fool’s onion (Triteleia hyacinthina)
harvest brodiaea (U) (Brodiaea coronaria)
Macoun’s meadowfoam (U, COSEWIC-SC)
(Limnanthes macounii)
Howell’s montia (U) (Montia howellii)
Mosses
Lichens
Spikemosses
Wallace’s selaginella (Selaginella wallacei)
roadside rock moss (Racomitrium canescens)
hoary rock moss (Racomitrium lanuginosum)
broom moss (Dicranum scoparium)
awned haircap moss (Polytrichum piliferum)
sea tar lichen (Verrucaria maura)
seaside kidney lichen (Nephroma laevigatum)
coastal reindeer lichen (Cladina portentosa)
caloplaca lichen (Caloplaca sp.)
Introduced
plants
early hairgrass (Aira praecox)
silver hairgrass (Aira caryophyllea)
hedgehog dogtail (Cynosurus echinatus)
sweet vernalgrass (Anthoxanthum odoratum)
gold star (U) (Crocidium
multicaule) (E.J. Stephen)
Proportion of SEI sub-units with
Coastal Bluff Ecosystems
Status
1.0%
Coastal bluffs are one of the most poorly represented of all sensitive
ecosystems in the study area, representing only 0.3% (1,043 ha) of
the land area of the entire study area (see Table 4). Less than 10%
of these units were classified as coastal cliffs.
0.8%
Coastal Cliff
0.6%
0.4%
0.2%
Islands
Capital
Cowichan
Nanaimo
0.0%
Comox
The occurrence and distribution of coastal bluff ecosystems are
influenced by the presence of exposed bedrock geology and by
proximity to the shoreline, exposure to tidal waters, and prevailing
winds. The Capital and Islands sub-units (see Figure 1, page 14)
contain nearly 90% of the coastal bluff ecosystems within the SEI
study area (see sidebar). These sub-units have extensive areas
where exposed bedrock occurs close to the shoreline or offshore on
numerous rocky islets. Towards the northern end of the study area,
Percentage of sub-unit land area
Coastal Bluff
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 37
Coastal Bluff Ecosystems
coastal bluffs are rarely encountered because shorelines are more
protected from the elements, and deep glacial and fluvial deposits
still bury the bedrock surface.
Table 4: Area (ha) of coastal bluff ecosystems by sub-unit
See Volume 1, section 4.2.2,
for further discussion of
inventory results relating to
coastal bluff ecosystems
SEI Sub-unit
Coastal Bluff
Coastal Cliff
Total
2.1
22.7
40.7
302.0
562.3
929.8
32.1
12.8
1.1
10.1
57.1
113.2
34.2
35.5
41.8
312.1
619.4
1043.0
Comox
Nanaimo
Cowichan
Capital
Islands
Total
Why are they Important?
Ecological attributes and socio-economic values pertaining to
coastal bluff ecosystems are listed below. Some of these are
common to all SEI ecosystems and are more fully discussed in
Chapter 2.
Ecological Attributes
Rarity—Due to environmental and geographic factors, coastal
bluff ecosystems are naturally rare in the study area;
undisturbed sites are very rare. Their continued existence
contributes to the high level of biodiversity of the region.
Common Murre
(D. Gunn)
Rare Birds of Coastal
Bluffs
‘Anatum’ Peregrine Falcon
(R, COSEWIC-T)
Brandt’s Cormorant (R)
Double-crested
Cormorant (B)
Fragility—Although rocky islets, shorelines and cliffs are
generally robust and stable, their shallow soils and the species
that inhabit them are susceptible to damage from development
or recreational activities such as house construction or hiking
(see also page 10).
High biodiversity—The juxtaposition of this ecosystem with
the inter-tidal zone tends to increase species richness (see also
page 11).
Specialised habitats—There are a number of species unique
to these habitats within the SEI study area, and within the
province in general. Some species are rare, and are only
known to occur in these ecosystems. Others which are rare in
British Columbia represent disjunct populations surviving at
the northern or western limits of their range.
Important microhabitats and niches in this ecosystem may
encompass only a few square inches or feet. Moist shoreline
gullies, swales and vernal pools on islets and headlands are
occupied by species with very restricted ranges such as the
38 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Coastal Bluff Ecosystems
uncommon and COSEWIC-SC listed Macoun’s meadowfoam.45
The red-listed water-plantain buttercup,46 found in moist
shoreline swales on East Ballenas Island, was recently added to
the federal COSEWIC-E 47 list of endangered species. Moist
seepage areas on cliffs host ferns and bryophytes. Deep rock
crevices are used for shelter, feeding, and hibernacula by
snakes and lizards.
Isolation from predators makes coastal bluffs and rocky islets
choice nesting sites for a number of birds including some
provincially-rare species (see sidebar opposite).49 Many tend to
nest directly on the ground and human intrusion can result in
damage to eggs and nests or nest abandonment through
disturbance. Rocky islets and shorelines are also used as haulout sites by river otters, harbour seals, and northern and
California sea lions.
Some common bird species
that nest at coastal bluffs
Pelagic Cormorant (Y) 48
Turkey Vulture
Glaucous-winged Gull
Pigeon Guillemot
Black Oystercatcher
Socio-economic Values
Green space (see page 11).
High scenic values—As they only occur along coastlines
coastal bluff ecosystems probably have the highest scenic
values of all the sensitive ecosystems. They contribute to
landscape diversity and are highly visible from the water. The
scenic beauty of this sensitive ecosystem attracts many
recreational boaters and cruise ships, which contribute to local,
regional and provincial economies (see also page 11).
Outdoor recreation (see page 11).
Research and nature education (see page 11).
Eco-tourism (see page 12).
The scenic values of several
coastal bluffs have already
been recognised, and their
features protected by
Provincial Park designation:
Boyle Point Park
Newcastle Island Park
Many local and regional parks
have also been created for the
scenic values of their coastal
bluffs.
Increased property values—Coastal bluff ecosystems often
contain higher-valued properties because of the scenic views
and waterfront location (see also page 12).
45
46
47
48
49
Douglas et al. 1998.
See note above.
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. See
Glossary.
Yellow-listed species (see Glossary).
Fraser et al. 1999
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 39
Coastal Bluff Ecosystems
Management
Recommendations
See Chapter 14 for
suggestions on
incorporating these
recommendations into
local government policies
and guidelines.
Beachfront property is highly desirable for tourism, recreation,
commercial and residential purposes. Effective conservation
management of coastal bluff ecosystems must acknowledge their
rarity and exceptional vulnerability to all types of human
disturbance. In these ecosystems, nature is in the process of
achieving a dynamic equilibrium that can be easily disrupted. Even
a small rise in sea levels resulting from global climate change
would return many of the rocky islets to the inter-tidal zone or
ocean ecosystem (see also page 23).
Some cliffs and bluffs may already have been identified as “hazard
or undevelopable lands” because of their steep slopes (>30%) and
erosion or mass wastage potential It is equally important to
recognise their habitat values for other species. These wildlife
values increase in importance with isolation from human activities.
Oystercatcher (D. Gunn)
When developing a management plan for coastal bluff ecosysems,
it is assumed that a local ecosystems plan and protection strategy
have been carried out (see pages 28 and 29). The following
recommendations will aid in the site management of coastal bluff
ecosystems:
Delineate Buffers around Coastal Bluff
Ecosystems
On James Island, a
setback of three times the
bluff height is required for
intensive land use or
buildings.
Wherever possible, vegetated buffers should be delineated around
each coastal bluff ecosystem as described in Chapter 4 (page 30). In
addition to a site assessment, which may be needed to determine
appropriate buffers, geo-technical engineers should also be
consulted to determine the safety zone for active and eroding areas
around coastal bluff ecosystems (see sidebar).
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts
In relatively undisturbed coastal bluff ecosystems, even minor
damage to rocky shorelines and cliffs can make plant communities
less stable. Plants can be easily trampled or dislodged by human
foot traffic, livestock or feral animal access along a coastal bluff.
Soil compaction can encourage erosion by reducing the thin surface
crust that allows for safe runoff in heavy rains. The following
actions will help minimise impacts to coastal bluff ecosystems.
40 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Coastal Bluff Ecosystems
Discourage development within or adjacent to coastal bluff
ecosystems
Restrict recreational access—Prevent damage to soils and
vegetation by restricting access of horses, mountain bikes, and
all-terrain vehicles that are inappropriate in coastal bluff areas.
Recreational activities such as kayaking allow ocean access to
coastal bluffs that may be unreachable by land; even foot traffic
can seriously disturb these ecosystems. In some instances
fencing may be an appropriate management tool to restrict
access to designated points within the coastal bluff ecosystem.
Rock climbing should be restricted in areas where rare plant
species or communities and/or breeding wildlife are present
(see also page 23).
Restrict livestock and feral animal access—Feral sheep and
goats can be controlled by erecting fencing around the land
perimeter of the coastal bluff (see also page 21).
Prevent disturbance of nesting or breeding areas—In
addition to the many songbirds and raptors that nest on coastal
bluffs, a number of colonial nesting species, such as the
cormorants and Great Blue Heron use these ecosystems and
their adjacent upland areas for nesting and breeding and are
very susceptible to disturbance during the nesting season (see
also page 23).
Animal fencing has been used
successfully around parts of
the perimeter of Ecological
Reserve #4 on Lasqueti
Island.
Control the introduction or spread of invasive plant species
such as Scotch broom and various non-native grasses such as
early hairgrass, soft brome, sweet vernal grass and hedgehog
dogtail (see also pages 21 and 32).
Control pets (see page 21).
Allow successional functions and processes to occur
naturally—Docks and piers, groins, jetties, and breakwaters
unintentionally and/or intentionally interrupt natural processes
such as waves, ocean currents, tides and sediment accretion /
erosion. This can adversely affect the development and
maintenance of these ecosystems. In some cases, a qualified
professional will be required to assess the potential of these
types of structures to interfere with the natural coastal
processes (see also page 31).
Maintain water quality—Sources of pollution affecting these
ecosystems include docks and piers constructed out of
creosote-treated lumber and piles, products of marine dumping
and ocean disposal of boat sewage that eventually return to
shore by way of tides and currents. Some of this material (e.g.
oily bilge) is toxic and can have serious long-term impacts on
wildlife and the ocean environment (see also page 25 and 31).
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 41
Coastal Bluff Ecosystems
Develop Carefully
Where development is allowed in coastal bluff ecosystems, the
general development guidelines described in Chapter 4 (page 32)
should be followed, namely:
Require an ecological inventory conducted by a qualified
professional.
Plan, design and implement all land development activities
in a manner that will not adversely affect or disturb
vegetation, trees, snags, and root systems,
endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species and natural
plant communities (and uncommon plant species)
associated with coastal bluff ecosystems and vernal pools
identified during the planning and inventory stages,
River otter (D. Gunn)
terrain features such as rock and, in this ecosystem
especially, soils,
adjacent foreshore and marine areas,
birds and other wildlife and their habitats, such as nesting
and breeding areas, microhabitats and habitat niches
characteristic of this ecosystem.
For suggestions on how to incorporate the above
recommendations into Official Community Plans and
Development Permit Areas,
see Chapter 14
42 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Sparsely Vegetated Ecosystems
Sparsely vegetated spits and dunes are very susceptible to disturbance. Plants
growing in the unconsolidated sand and gravel particles can easily be dislodged
and destroyed by foot traffic. (Photo: Trudy Chatwin)
Flat, open sand and gravel spits provide ideal
habitats for nesting, overwintering and migrating
shorebirds. (Photo: Nick Page)
The ledges, crevices, caves and open faces
of sparsely vegetated inland cliffs provide
habitat for bats, raptors and other birds,
overwintering snakes and lizards. (Photo:
Nick Page)
Killdeer use open spits and dunes for nesting.
(Photo: Peggy Ward)
44 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
6 Sparsely Vegetated
What are Sparsely
Vegetated Ecosystems?
S
parsely vegetated ecosystems include coastal sand dunes
(SV:sd), coastal sand and gravel spits (SV:sp) and inland
cliffs and bluffs (SV:cl). Vegetation is usually discontinuous,
interspersed with bare sand, gravel, or exposed bedrock. These
unique landforms are often in a dynamic state of change due to
factors such as water level changes, sediment deposition, sediment
erosion (spits and dunes) and mass wasting (cliffs). Although
species diversity is low in these ecosystems in comparison to other
sensitive ecosystems, they provide a variety of specialised wildlife
habitats. They support newly- and slowly-developing plant
communities that are formed by species adapted to hostile
environmental conditions.
Spits and dunes are typically formed through the accretion of sand
and gravel and are highly unstable and fragile. In their formative
years, they lack distinct soil horizons and organic layers and
vegetation is slow to establish due to natural disturbance
processes such as wave-pounded beaches, shifting sands, relentless
winds, salt-spray and saline soils, and full exposure to summer
heat. Plant communities evolve and eventually stabilise through the
interaction of natural processes over thousands of years.
Familiar locations
Sidney Spit
Shingle Spit
Island View Beach dunes
Cordova Spit dunes
Cowichan River cliffs
Mount Benson cliffs
Steep inland cliffs and bluffs typically form as a result of erosion,
catastrophic failure or mass wastage of rock faces and riverbanks.
Environmental factors influencing plant and animal establishment
or use of these cliffs and bluffs are: steepness and activity of
slopes; aspect and position on a slope; exposure to severe weather
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 45
Sparsely Vegetated Ecosystems
conditions such as full sun or full shade; lack of moisture or
continuous seepages; and whether the site is wind-blown or fully
sheltered. Rapid drainage and the accumulation of soil organic
matter that is limited to bedrock fissures and ledges results in
stunted trees, shrubs, grasses, mosses and lichens developing in
these shallow soils. Vegetation here is similar to that on coastal
bluffs and is usually interspersed with other ecosystems types such
as rocky terrestrial herbaceous and older second growth forest
ecosystems.
Plants of dunes and spits
Deltoid balsamroot (R)
(Balsamorhiza deltoidea)
Shrubs
(generally
absent)
some species sometimes establish behind the strandline, and in back dune areas furthest away from
the shore, for example:
kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
Nootka rose (Rosa nutkana)
Pacific crabapple (Malus fusca)
Herbs
silver burweed (Ambrosia chamissonis)
dunegrass (Elymus mollis)
American searocket (Cakile edentula)
gumweed (Grindelia integrifolia)
seabeach sandwort (Honkenya peploides)
seaside plantain (Plantago maritima)
thrift (U) (Armeria maritima)
silverweed (Potentilla anserina)
beach pea (Lathrys japonicus)
coastal strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis)
red fescue (Festuca rubra)
yellow sand verbena (U) (Abronia latifolia)
gold star (U) (Crocidium multicaule)
beach bindweed (U) (Convolvulus soldanella)
beach bluegrass (U) (Poa confinis)
seashore lupine (U) (Lupinus littorale)
seaside rein orchid (U) (Piperia maritima)
seashore bluegrass (U) (Poa macrantha)
large-headed sedge (U) (Carex macrocephala)
Mosses
(rare)
hairy screw moss (Tortula ruralis) can occur behind
the strand
(E.J. Stephen)
Rare50 plants of dunes
and spits
contorted-pod evening
primrose (R)
(Camissonia contorta)
sand-dune sedge (B) (Carex
pansa)
deltoid balsamroot (R,
COSEWIC-E)
(Balsamorhiza
deltoidea)
50
Provincially endangered or threatened (R-red-listed) or vulnerable (Bblue-listed) species as of May 2000 are noted; species ranked as infrequent
or uncommon (U) are noted in the table. Nationally rare species ranked
by COSEWIC, as of May 2000, are noted as endangered (E), threatened
(T) or of special concern (SC). See Glossary for further discussion.
46 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Sparsely Vegetated Ecosystems
Plants of inland cliffs
broad-leaved stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium)
small-flowered alumroot (Heuchera micrantha)
licorice fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza)
saxifrage (Saxifraga sp.)
woolly eriophyllum (Eriophyllum lanatum var. lanatum)
field chickweed (Cerastium arvense)
blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia parviflora)
harvest brodiaea (U) (Brodiaea coronaria)
Ferns
Mosses
Spikemosses
Wallace’s selaginella (Selaginella wallacei)
hoary rock moss (Racomitrium lanuginosum)
goldenback fern (U) (Pentagramma triangularis)
juniper haircap moss (Polytrichum juniperinum)
broom moss (Dicranum scoparium)
Status
The occurrence and distribution of sand dunes and sand and gravel
spits is influenced by proximity to the shoreline and by exposure to
tidal waters, ocean currents, and prevailing winds. Topography and
geology also influence dune and spit distribution because steeply
sloped coastal bluff areas are prevalent in the SEI study area, and
generally inhibit dune and spit development. Spits accounted for
26 of the 86 SV polygons and occurred in all sub-units except for
Cowichan. They were best represented in the Islands Sub-unit,
Proportion of SEI sub-units with
Sparsely Vegetated Ecosystems
0.25%
Percentage of sub-unit land area
These ecosystems were the most poorly represented of all
ecosystems in this study area, covering only 335 ha or less than
0.1% of the study area (see Table 5). Inland cliffs and bluffs were
the most abundant sub-category, representing 55% of the total SV
area. They occurred throughout the study area and were generally
found in combination with older second growth forest and rocky
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems. Their occurrence is influenced
by topography, bedrock type, and presence and depth of surficial
materials. Several active talus slopes found in the Comox Sub-unit
are included in this class.
Dune
0.20%
Spit
Inland Cliff
0.15%
0.10%
0.05%
0.00%
Islands
Herbs
Capital
baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa)
kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
hairy manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbiana
Cowichan
Shrubs
Nanaimo
Garry oak (Quercus garryana), krummholtz forms.
arbutus (Arbutus menziesii)
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Comox
Trees
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 47
Sparsely Vegetated Ecosystems
likely because of the greater coastline length and the presence of
Nanaimo Group sandstones. Only 8 units were classified as dunes,
occurring primarily in the Capital Sub-unit.
Table 5: Area (ha) of sparsely vegetated ecosystems by sub-unit
SEI Sub-unit
See Volume 1, section
4.2.3, page 59, for further
discussion of inventory
results relating to sparsely
vegetated ecosystems
Comox
Nanaimo
Cowichan
Capital
Islands
Total
Dune
Spit
5.8
0
0
32.1
1.6
39.5
13.1
7.7
0
3.4
87.1
111.3
Inland Cliff
or Bluff
73.8
35.3
24.6
2.5
47.6
183.8
Total
92.7
43.0
24.6
38.0
136.3
334.651
Why are they Important?
Ecological attributes and socio-economic values pertaining to
sparsely vegetated ecosystems are listed below. Some of these are
common to most SEI ecosystems and are discussed in Chapter 2.
Ecological Attributes
Rarity—Sparsely vegetated ecosystems are the rarest of the
sensitive ecosystem types in the SEI study area. Undisturbed
examples of this ecosystem are very rare (see page 10).
Fragility—Sand dunes, sand and gravel spits are typically
highly unstable landforms with thin, limited soils resulting in
plant root systems that can easily be disturbed or destroyed
(see also page 10).
Biodiversity—Species diversity is low in comparison to other
ecosystems in the SEI study area. Sparsely vegetated
ecosystems support a narrow range of plant and animal species
that have adapted to their harsh environment.
Specialised habitats—A variety of specialised habitats occur
in these ecosystems. There are a number of species, some of
them rare, which are unique to these habitats within the SEI
study area, and the province in general.
Greater Yellowlegs
(M. Hames)
51
Some discrepancies may occur between figures in this report and
Volume 1 due to minor corrections in the database.
48 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Sparsely Vegetated Ecosystems
Spits and their adjacent beaches are summer home ranges for the
wandering and northwestern garter snakes that find cover from
driftlogs and food on these dry sites. A variety of migrating
shorebirds also use these flat, open habitats. Large numbers of
wintering shorebirds such as Black Turnstones, Dunlin and Blackbellied Plover frequent spits and Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers
nest on sand dunes and sand or gravel spits. During spring
migration thousands of Brant geese depend on spits and the
adjacent intertidal habitat for loafing, feeding, and maintenance
activities.
Rare vertebrates of sparsely
vegetated ecosystems
Open ledges and horizontal fissures on cliffs and bluffs are known
to provide nesting sites for birds such as the Turkey Vulture and
many songbird species. Cliff crevices are used for roosting by bats,
and the open cliff faces are used for foraging. The COSEWIC and
red-listed Keen’s long-eared bat and the blue-listed Townsend’s
big-eared bat use caves and rock crevices.53 Deep crevices are used
for shelter and hibernacula by overwintering snakes and lizards.
Moist seepage areas host ferns and mosses.
Inland cliffs and bluffs
Dunes and spits52
Hudsonian Godwit (R)
Sandhill Crane (B)
American Golden-Plover (B)
Short-billed Dowitcher (B)
Califonia Gull (B)
Sharp-tailed snake (R,
COSEWIC-E)
‘Anatum’ Peregrine Falcon (R,
COSEWIC-T)
Keen’s long-eared bat (R,
COSEWIC-SC)
Townsend’s big-eared bat (B)
Turkey Vulture
Socio-economic Values
Green space (see page 11 )
High scenic values (see page 11)
Outdoor recreation (see page 11)
Research and nature education (see page 11)
Eco-tourism (see page 12)
Increased property value—Sparsely vegetated spits contain
some of the more desirable properties because of their scenic
views and waterfront location. However, caution is warranted;
see Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts and Develop
Carefully under Management Recommendations below.
52
53
The scenic values of some
sparsely vegetated ecosystems
have already been
recognised, and their features
protected by Provincial Park
designation:
Sidney Spit Marine Park
Tribune Bay Park
Fraser et al. 1999.
Cannings et al. 1999.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 49
Sparsely Vegetated Ecosystems
Management
Recommendations
See Chapter 14 for
suggestions on
incorporating these
recommendations into
local government policies
and guidelines.
Effective management of sparsely vegetated ecosystems requires an
understanding of their rarity, fragility, and exceptional vulnerability
to all types of human disturbance. Nature is in the process of
achieving a dynamic equilibrium, which can be perplexing to those
that can only envision perceptibly static ecosystems wherein
change takes place in geological time. Many expect a boundary to
stay put once it has been defined, whether it is a natural shoreline
or an administrative property line. This expectation is unrealistic
for sparsely vegetated ecosystems and can lead to many problems.
They are not always going to be safe places on which to live. Even
a small rise in sea level would return many of the spits and sand
dunes to the intertidal zone (see also page 23).
Inland cliffs and bluffs may already have been identified as “hazard
or un-developable lands” because of their steep slopes (>30%), and
erosion or mass wastage potential. It is equally important to
recognise their habitat values for other species that increase in
importance with isolation from human activities.
When developing a management plan for sparsely vegetated
ecosysems, it is assumed that a local ecosystems plan and protection
strategy have been carried out (see pages 28 and 29). The following
recommendations will aid in the site management of sparsely
vegetated ecosystems:
Delineate Buffers around Sparsely
Vegetated Ecosystems
Silver burweed (Ambrosia
chamissonis) (E.J. Stephen)
Wherever possible, vegetated buffers should be delineated around
each sparsely vegetated ecosystem as described in Chapter 4 (page
30). For spits and dunes, the site assessment required to determine
appropriate buffers should take into account the adjacent intertidal
area and areas that are actively accreting or eroding. The site
assessment for buffering cliffs and bluffs should consider adjacent
upland forest as well as the habitat at the cliff base.
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts
Beachfront property is highly desirable for tourism, recreation,
commercial and residential purposes. Many housing or commercial
developments have already been constructed on spits in the SEI
study area. Even minor damage to sparsely vegetated ecosystems
50 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Sparsely Vegetated Ecosystems
can make plant communities less stable, and plants can be easily
trampled or dislodged by foot traffic.
Sand spit and sand dune soils are very different from those found in
other SEI ecosystems, as are eroding cliffs composed of glacial till
such as those found above Witty’s Beach. Because they are
composed of unconsolidated sand particles that rarely have an
organic layer to protect the surface from erosion and disturbance,
they are particularly sensitive to any type of use and development.
In tourist areas, sand is sometimes imported to replenish the eroding
shoreline. This would have a direct impact if done within the dune
or spit ecosystem, and an indirect impact if it occurred elsewhere
on the coast, but would contribute to an alteration in the rate and
amount of accretion. The following actions will help minimise
impacts to sparsely vegetated ecosystems.
Discourage development within or adjacent to sparsely
vegetated ecosystems—These sites are relatively unstable due
to their shifting substrates and, in the case of spits and coastal
dunes, offer very real threats from flooding and winter storms.
Little brown bat
(L. Friis)
Restrict recreational access—Activities such as riding
mountain bikes, horses, and motorised, off-road vehicles (trail
bikes and all-terrain-vehicles) are inappropriate in these areas
and can result in damage to soils and vegetation. Even foot
traffic can seriously disturb these ecosystems. Elevated
boardwalks, fences, railings, seasonal trail closures, and signs
may be used to reduce related impacts. Rock climbing is
unsafe on eroding inland cliffs and bluffs, and depending on
rare plant species and presence of breeding wildlife, should be
restricted to stable cliffs (see also page 23).
Restrict livestock and feral animal access (see page 21).
Prevent disturbance of nesting or breeding areas—The
nesting season for birds using sparsely vegetated sites ranges
from early March through August54 (see also page 23).
Shorebirds nesting on dune and spit habitats, such as the
killdeer, lay their eggs in small scrapes on the ground and rely
on camouflage to protect the eggs and recently fledged young.
Thus most people would not know that they were near a nest
or young even if they were to tread upon them. Any public use
should have well-marked trails and fencing to control access to
these fragile areas such as has been done in Rathtrevor Park
(see also page 23).
Control the introduction or spread of invasive species such
as Scotch broom, and various non-native grasses (see also page
21 and page 30).
54
Campbell et al. 1990b.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 51
Sparsely Vegetated Ecosystems
Control pets (see page 21).
Allow successional functions and processes to occur
naturally—Natural ecological processes that are critical to the
creation or maintenance of sparsely vegetated ecosystems
include waves, tides, ocean currents, winds, storms, sediment
accretion, and mass wastage. These functions and processes
should be maintained and protected where they do not pose a
danger to safety or property. Docks and piers, groins, jetties,
and breakwaters, which are unintentionally and intentionally
constructed to interrupt the natural processes of coastal
accretion or erosion could adversely affect the development of
dune and spit ecosystems.
Black Brant
(CWS)
Wherever possible, natural coastal processes should be left
undisturbed around sparsely vegetated coastal ecosystems.
The form and character of structures should be regulated by
Development Permit (DP) designations within 300 metres of
the sparsely vegetated coastal ecosystem in either direction
along the shoreline. The DP process should require an
environmental site plan and impact assessment conducted by a
qualified professional indicating that there will be “no effect.”
Aquaculture/mariculture should not be permitted in areas that
would be environmentally sensitive to such development.
Artificial reefs should not be permitted within the 300m zone.
Develop Carefully
Where development is allowed in sparsely vegetated ecosystems,
the general development guidelines described in Chapter 4 (page 32)
should be followed, namely:
Require an ecological inventory conducted by a qualified
professional.
Plan, design and implement all land development activities
in a manner that will not adversely affect or disturb
vegetation, trees, snags, and root systems,
endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species and natural
plant communities (and uncommon plant species)
associated with sparsely vegetated ecosystems identified
during the planning and inventory stages,
terrain features such as rock and especially soils,
adjacent foreshore and marine areas, including natural
sand features and vegetation that supports them,
52 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Sparsely Vegetated Ecosystems
birds and other wildlife and their habitats, such as nesting
and breeding areas, microhabitats and habitat niches
characteristic of this ecosystem.
For suggestions on how to incorporate the above
recommendations into Official Community Plans and
Development Permit Areas,
see Chapter 14
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 53
Terrestrial Herbaceous Ecosystems
Terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems are rare, fragile and exceptionally vulnerable to all types of human
disturbance. The shallow soils take a long time to form and the grasses and broad-leaved plants, mosses
and lichens can be easily trampled or dislodged. Seepage areas and vernal pools are home to several
globally rare plant species. (Photo: Mark Kaarremaa)
Grassy hilltops and wildflower meadows offer
spectacular displays of colour in the spring. Some
plant species are rare, and are only known to
occur in these ecosystems. (Photo: Mark Kaarremaa)
Scotch broom is one of the most invasive species
displacing native plants in sensitive ecosystems.
(Photo: Mark Kaarremaa)
54 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
7 Terrestrial Herbaceous
What are Terrestrial
Herbaceous Ecosystems?
T
errestrial herbaceous ecosystems (HT) are the open
wildflower meadows and grassy hilltops of the SEI study
area, containing a rich tapestry of colour created by
herbs–grasses and forbs—and mosses and lichens. They are found
outside the salt spray zone near shorelines, all the way to the
summits of local hills and mountains.
The predominantly herbaceous vegetation is continuous except
where interspersed with bare rock outcrops. The minimal tree and
shrub cover characteristic of this ecosystem type is a result of
shallow and rapidly draining soil conditions. Summer heat and
light create drying conditions.
The SEI recognised three classes of terrestrial herbaceous
ecosystem: grass-forb dominated areas with less than 10% tree
cover and less than 20% shrub cover (HT); grass-forb areas
interspersed with rocky outcrops (HT:ro); and grass-forb areas
with more than 20% shrub cover (HT:sh). Various combinations of
these three classes were found in the study area, which is reflected
in the inventory results (see Table 6).
When found near shorelines, there may be an overlap with species
common to the coastal bluff ecosystem. Where environmental
conditions are more conducive for woodland and forest growth,
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems may be interspersed with other
SEI ecosystems such as woodland, older forest, and older second
growth forest.
Familiar locations
Terrestrial herbaceous
ecosystems
Nanoose Hill
Beacon Hill Park
Rocky terrestrial herbaceous
ecosystems
Mt. Tolmie
Mt. Finlayson
Mt. Douglas
Siwash Ridges
Mt. Benson
Campbell Lake
Quinsam Lake
Burgoyne Bay
Jervis Island
Mount Jeffrey
Bamberton
Shrub-dominated terrestrial
herbaceous ecosystems
Woodley Range
Mount Tzuhalem
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 55
Terrestrial Herbceous Ecosystems
Plants of terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems
Rare55 plants of
terrestrial herbaceous
ecosystems
Trees
(occasional)
Garry oak (Quercus garryana)
arbutus (Arbutus menziesii)
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga mensiesii)
shore pine (Pinus contorta var. contorta)
Shrubs
baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa)
kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)
snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
tall Oregon-grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
Herbs
western fescue (Festuca occidentalis)
junegrass (Koeleria macrantha)
blue wildrye (Elymus glaucus)
Columbia brome (Bromus vulgaris)
Alaska brome (Bromus sitchensis)
California oatgrass (Danthonia californica)
small-flowered alumroot (Heuchera micrantha)
broad-leaved stonecrop (Sedum spathulifolium)
death camas (Zigadenus venenosus)
sea blush (Plectritis congesta)
tiger lily (Lilium columbianum)
Menzies’ larkspur (Delphinium menziesii)
white fawn lily (Erythronium oregonum)
chocolate lily (Fritillaria affinis)
satin-flower (Olsynium douglasii var. douglasii)
fool’s onion (Triteleia hyacinthina)
common camas (Camassia quamash)
miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata)
nodding onion (Allium cernuum)
great camas (Camassia leichtlinii)
short-stemmed sedge (Carex brevicaulis)
rusty-haired saxifrage (Saxifraga rufidula)
field chickweed (Cerastium arvense)
woolly eriophyllum (Eriophyllum lanatum var. lanatum)
early blue violet (Viola adunca)
blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia parviflora)
broad-leaved shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii)
yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis)
spring-gold (Lomatium utriculatum)
Lemmon’s needlegrass (U) (Stipa lemmonii)
large-headed sedge (U) (Carex macrocephala)
deltoid balsamroot (R,
COSEWIC-E)
(Balsamorhiza
deltoidea)
yellow montane violet (R)
(Viola praemorsa)
scalepod (R) (Idahoa
scapigera)
dune bentgrass (B)
(Agrostis pallens)
Rare natural plant
community
Idaho fescue/junegrass (R)
(Festuca
idahoensis/Koeleria
macrantha)
55
Provincially endangered or threatened (R-red-listed) or vulnerable (Bblue-listed) species as of May 2000 are noted; species ranked as infrequent
or uncommon (U) are noted in the table. Nationally rare species ranked
by COSEWIC, as of May 2000, are noted as endangered (E), threatened
(T) or of special concern (SC). See Glossary for further discussion.
56 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Terrestrial Herbaceous Ecosystems
hairy manzanita (U) (Arctostaphylos columbiana)
tomcat clover (Trifolium tridentatum)
goldenback fern (U) (Pentagramma triangularis)
harvest brodiaea (U) (Brodiaea coronaria)
slimleaf onion (U) (Allium amplectens)
gold star (U) (Crocidium multicaule)
farewell-to-spring (U) (Clarkia amoena)
Hooker’s onion (U) (Allium acuminatum)
poverty clover (U) (Trifolium depauperatum)
two-coloured lupine (U) (Lupinus bicolor)
chickweed monkey-flower (U) (Mimulus guttatus)
Nuttall’s quillwort (U) (Isoetes nuttallii)
Gairdner’s yampah (U) (Perideridia gairdneri)
May also include moisture-loving species in seepage areas
and vernal pools such as
slender plantain (Plantago elongata)
blue-eyed grass (U) (Sisyrinchium idahoense var. macounii)
Mosses
Introduced
plants
roadside rock moss (Racomitrium canescens)
step moss (Hylocomium splendens)
Oregon beaked moss (Kindbergia oregana)
electrified cat’s-tail moss (Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus)
hoary rock moss (Racomitrium lanuginosum)
Slender wooly-heads (R)
(Psilocarphus tenellus)
(E.J. Stephen)
early hairgrass (Aira praecox)
silver hairgrass (Aira caryophyllea)
hedgehog dogtail (Cynosurus echinatus)
sweet vernalgrass (Anthoxanthum odoratum)
Status
These ecosystems occur throughout the study area and account for
about 1% of the total land base. Terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems
containing rocky outcrops (HT:ro) were the most abundant subcategory, representing 90% of the total HT area (see Table 6).
HT:contains sh
HT
HT:ro
1.6%
1.2%
0.8%
0.4%
Islands
Capital
Cowichan
Nanaimo
0.0%
Comox
The Capital and Comox sub-units account for over half of the area
of terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems because of the greater
presence of the older bedrock type, and because of more hilly or
mountainous terrain. The Islands and Nanaimo sub-units are
composed primarily of much younger Nanaimo Group sandstones,
shales and conglomerates, and have been more prone to erosion.
The result is fewer high hills and mountains such as are found
elsewhere on Vancouver Island. The Lasqueti Island archipelago is
2.0%
Percentage of sub-unit land area
The occurrence and distribution of terrestrial herbaceous
ecosystems is strongly influenced by the presence of exposed
bedrock geology, often on gentle to moderate slopes, and often
near the summits of hills and mountains in the study area.
Proportion of SEI sub-units with
Terrestrial Herbaceous Ecosystems
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 57
Terrestrial Herbceous Ecosystems
the one exception; this group of islands is mainly of the Karmutsen
formation, and has extensive rocky herbaceous sites. Many
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems throughout the study area have
been taken over by shrubs due to fire suppression.
See Volume 1, section
4.2.4, page 60, for further
discussion of inventory
results relating to
terrestrial herbaceous
ecosystems
Table 6: Area (ha) of terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems by sub-unit
SEI subHT
HT:ro
HT:sh HT:ro:sh HT:sh:ro
Total
unit
Comox
30.6
1210.5
59.0
27.3
0
1327.4
Nanaimo
16.5
416.4
13.2
0
0
446.1
Cowichan
11.8
683.8
20.6
26.2
1.8
744.2
Capital
36.7
963.6
14.2
26.8
1.4
1042.7
Islands
129.9
552.6
0.6
0
0
683.1
Total
225.4
3826.8
107.4
80.3
32.
4243.5
Why are they Important?
Ecological attributes and socio-economic values pertaining to
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems are listed below. Some of these
are common to most SEI ecosystems and are discussed in
Chapter 2.
Ecological Attributes
Rarity—These ecosystems are very rare in the SEI study area,
because of a combination of geographical location, geological
age, bedrock type, and Mediterranean climate. These factors
give rise to the erosional processes required to expose bedrock,
or restrict soil development to thin sandy veneers over the
bedrock (see also page 10).
Edith’s checkerspot (R)
(C. Guppy)
Fragility—Whereas the bedrock beneath is generally robust
and stable, the species that inhabit these ecosystems are less
so. Thin and rapidly draining soils are easily disturbed (see
also page 10).
High biodiversity—The frequent juxtaposition of terrestrial
herbaceous ecosystems with the coastal bluff, woodland, older
forest and older second growth forest ecosystems increases
species richness of these sites (see also page 11).
Specialised habitats—Terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems
contain highly specialised microhabitats, including vernal
pools. Because of the fragility of these sites, microhabitats and
niches may encompass only a few square inches or feet. As a
result, there are a number of species unique to these habitats
within the SEI study area, and the province in general. Seepage
58 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Terrestrial Herbaceous Ecosystems
areas are hotspots for plants of conservation concern. Some of
the species are rare, and are only known to occur in these
ecosystems. Others represent disjunct populations surviving at
their most northern or western range limits.
Vernal pools, rare even in this ecosystem, form during the wet
autumn and winter months and dry up during the summer. A
variety of organisms have evolved to use these ephemeral
“wetlands.” Obligate vernal pool species are dependent on
these pools for various aspects of their life history and, in the
study area, include winged water-starwort and Nuttall’s
quillwort.
Some species, such as butterflies, have very restricted or patchy
habitats, perhaps utilising only one plant species within a
geographic area. One such butterfly is the red-listed Edith’s
checkerspot, known only from terrestrial herbaceous
ecosystems on Hornby Island, where its larvae feed on plantain
species. Another, the red-listed Bremner’s silverspot fritillary, is
found in open meadows interspersed amongst old-growth
Douglas-fir forests on Saltspring Island. Violets, such as the
early blue violet, are larval host plants for this butterfly.
Rare butterflies of terrestrial
herbaceous ecosystems
Edith’s checkerspot, taylori
subspecies (R)
Bremner’s silverspot (R)
Propertius duskywing (B)
Socio-economic Values
Green space (see page 11).
High scenic values—Visitors to meadows in spring or early
summer will encounter a wildflower display that is second to
none. Because these sites are frequently found on hilltops, they
also offer spectacular viewpoints (see also page 11).
Outdoor recreation (see page 11).
Protected terrestrial
herbaceous ecosystems
Provincial parks
Sandy Island Park
Helliwell Park
Gowlland Tod Park
Research and nature education (see page 11).
Eco-tourism—The spectacular spring wildflower displays in
the terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems are one of the best-kept
wildlife viewing secrets on Vancouver Island. With adequate
protection of these important ecosystems and suitable public
access controls to minimise disturbance, they could become an
important part of the island’s eco-tourism marketing strategy
(see also page 12).
Local and regional parks
Uplands Park
LoneTree Regional Park
Mount Tolmie Park
Mount Douglas Park
Mount Work Regional Park
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 59
Terrestrial Herbceous Ecosystems
Management
Recommendations
See Chapter 14 for
suggestions on
incorporating these
recommendations into local
government policies and
guidelines.
Terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems, like coastal bluffs and sparsely
vegetated ecosystems, are rare, fragile and exceptionally
vulnerable to all types of human disturbance.
When developing a management plan for terrestrial herbaceous
ecosysems, it is assumed that a local ecosystems plan and protection
strategy have been carried out (see pages 28 and 29). The following
recommendations will aid in the site management of terrestrial
herbaceous ecosystems:
Delineate Buffers around Terrestrial
Herbaceous Ecosystems
Wherever possible, vegetated buffers should be delineated around
each terrestrial herbaceous ecosystem as described in Chapter 4
(page 30). Site assessments required to determine appropriate
buffers should take into account for example, the adjacent coastal
bluff, older forest or woodland. It is very important to establish
adequate buffers for terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems, as they are
particularly vulnerable to adjacent land uses, for example,
clearcutting land adjacent to the core ecosystem results in
colonization by agressive invasive alien plant species, which then
spread into the adjacent sensitive ecosystem.
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts
The thin layer of soil coverage in terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems
makes the microsites where soil has developed very important.
These soils typically only have a thin organic layer to protect the
surface from erosion and disturbance and are particularly sensitive
to any type of use or development. The following actions will help
minimise impacts to terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems.
Discourage development within or adjacent to terrestrial
herbaceous ecosystems—(see page 31).
Control recreational access—The impacts of recreational
activities such as mountain biking and horse riding should be
carefully considered and suitable trails constructed before such
uses are allowed. All-terrain vehicles are inappropriate in
terrestrial herbaceous areas, as they cause damage to fragile
soils and vegetation. The thin soils take a long time to form and
are easily disturbed. Herbaceous plants can be easily trampled,
60 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Terrestrial Herbaceous Ecosystems
or dislodged onto bare rock where they cannot re-establish.
Plant root systems can easily be disturbed or destroyed
through compaction as well, thus causing major disruption of
ecosystem components and processes. What may seem to be
passive recreational activities—such as walking—may cause
irreparable damage in which case access may have to be
restricted.
Elevated boardwalks, fences, railings, seasonal trail closures,
and signs may be used to reduce related impacts. Trails should
be designed carefully to avoid altering drainage patterns and to
minimise erosion and seasonal flooding.
Restrict livestock and feral animal access (see page 21).
Prevent disturbance of nesting or breeding areas—The
nesting season for birds using terrestrial herbaceous sites
ranges from early March through July and early August (see
also page 23).56
Control the introduction or spread of invasive species—
Common species include Scotch broom and various non-native
grasses. A conservation management fund could be required
from developers that would pay to mitigate inevitable impacts
from adjacent developments (see also pages 21 and 30).
Control pets (see page 21).
Allow successional functions and processes to occur
naturally—Natural ecological processes that are critical to the
creation or maintenance of terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems
include seasonally variable soil moisture and nutrient regimes.
Any alteration to these conditions, through activities such as
septic discharge and garden watering from further up slope,
should be restricted on the advice of a qualified professional as
indicated on page 31. Avoid disturbing seepage areas and
water flows within areas with recreational trails.
Develop Carefully
Where development is allowed in terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems,
the general development guidelines described in Chapter 4 (page 32)
should be followed, namely:
Require an ecological inventory conducted by a qualified
professional.
Plan, design and implement all land development activities
in a manner that will not adversely affect or disturb
56
Campbell et al. 1990b, 1997.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 61
Terrestrial Herbceous Ecosystems
grasses, forbs, shrubs, bryophytes, trees, snags, and root
systems,
endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species and natural
plant communities (and uncommon plant species)
associated with terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems
identified during the planning and inventory stages,
Propertius duskywing (B)
(C. Guppy)
terrain features such as rock and especially soils and soil
conditions,
adjacent foreshore and marine areas,
birds and other wildlife and their habitats, such as nesting
and breeding areas, microhabitats and habitat niches
characteristic of this ecosystem.
Maintain native meadows and their spectacular wildflower
displays by encouraging landowners and developers to
maintain these natural areas, instead of landscaping with nonnative plant species.
For suggestions on how to incorporate the above
recommendations into Official Community Plans and
Development Permit Areas,
see Chapter 14
62 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Wetland Ecosystems
Undisturbed wetlands such as this freshwater marsh are rare in this dry region. All wetlands are
complex ecosystems and are highly vulnerable to human disturbance. The remaining intact
wetlands continue to contribute to the area's high level of biodiversity. (Photo: Mark Kaarremaa)
Treed swamp and shallow water wetland with
characteristic floating and submerged plants.
(Photo: SEI)
An estuarine marsh during winter high tides
(top) and lush summer growth (bottom). These
are the most productive of all wetland classes,
supporting a rich diversity of plants and
animals. (Photo: Neil K. Dawe)
64 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
8 Wetlands
What are Wetland
Ecosystems?
W
etlands (WN) are characterised by daily, seasonal, or
year-round water, either at or above the surface, or
within the root zone of plants. Their plant communities
are adapted to wet conditions; some are tolerant of complete
submergence whereas others depend on drier conditions during the
summer growing season.
The Sensitive Ecosystem Inventory recognises six wetland classes:
bog, fen, marsh, swamp, shallow water, and wet meadow. These
classes encompass a range of communities including western
redcedar and skunk cabbage swamps, cattail marshes, Sphagnum
moss-dominated bogs, and coastal salt and estuarine marshes. All
are of conservation concern in the SEI study area. As a result of
successional processes, disturbance, and other factors, some
wetlands are mosaics of several wetland classes, and many are
transitional between more than one wetland class. Common
transitions occur between bogs and fens, as well as between fens
and swamps.
Within the typology of wetland classes, wetlands are generally
divided into peatlands and mineral wetlands. An understanding of
the unique ecology of both will help in determining their
sensitivity to disturbance and deciding what needs to be done to
conserve them.
Familiar locations
Somenos Marsh
Hamilton Marsh
Burns Marsh
Campbell River estuary
Cowichan River estuary
Englishman River estuary
Little Qualicum River estuary
Nanaimo River estuary
Nanoose and Bonell estuaries
Dyke slough
Rithet’s Bog
See Volume 1, section 3.5 for
a description of the site
factors, plants and animals for
each wetland class.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 65
Wetland Ecosystems
Peatlands include bogs and fens, which are characterised by
continuously wet, organic soils (mainly Sphagnum or sedge peat)
that accumulate because plant growth exceeds decomposition.
Digging into a bog reveals the fibrous remains of mosses and other
plants that have taken hundreds or thousands of years to
accumulate. Peat deposits can be greater than 5 m deep. Bogs are
hydrologically isolated from the surrounding landscape and are
characteristically acidic, low in nutrients, and saturated for the
entire year. Fens receive water enriched with minerals and
nutrients from upslope drainage or groundwater, and support a
higher diversity of plant species than bogs.
The following are partial lists of characterisic vegetation that can
occur in each of the wetland types identified by the SEI.
Sphagnum moss
(C. Tunnoch)
Bog plants
Trees
shore pine (Pinus contorta var. contorta)
western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), occasionally
Shrubs
Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum)
low birch (Betula pumila var. glandulifera)
western bog-laurel (Kalmia microphylla ssp. occidentalis)
bog-rosemary (Andromeda polifolia)
bog cranberry (Oxycoccus oxycoccos)
salal (Gaultheria shallon)
crowberry (Empetrum nigrum)
cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus)
Herbs
white bog-orchid (Platanthera dilatata var. dilatata)
round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia)
Northern starflower (Trientalis arctica)
great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis)
Alaska bentgrass (Agrostis aequivalis)
green sedge (Carex viridula)
Mosses
various species of Sphagnum moss species including:
small red peat moss (Sphagnum capillifolium)
fat bog moss (Sphagnum papillosum)
Pacific peat moss (Sphagnum pacificum)
Brown peat moss (Sphagnum fuscum)
66 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Wetland Ecosystems
Fen plants
Trees
shore pine (Pinus contorta var. contorta)
western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)
western redcedar (Thuja plicata)
Shrubs
sweetgale (Myrica gale)
hardhack (Spiraea douglasii)
Herbs
Sitka sedge (Carex sitchensis)
water sedge (Carex aquatilis)
beaked sedge (Carex utriculata)
slough sedge (Carex obnupta)
inflated sedge (Carex exsiccata)
common rush (Juncus effusus)
white beak-rush (Rhynchospora alba)
dulichium (Dulichium arundinaceum)
buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata)
king gentian (Gentiana sceptrum)
narrow-leaved cotton-grass (Eriophorum angustifolium)
Chamisso’s cotton-grass (Eriophorum chamissonis)
Mosses
ribbed bog moss (Aulacomnium palustre)
sickle moss (Drepanocladus uncinatus)
Sphagnum spp.
Fens, one of two wetland types characterized by wet organic soils, support a higher diversity of
plant species than bogs. (Photo: Andrea Ward)
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 67
Wetland Ecosystems
Mineral wetlands include freshwater, brackish and saline marshes,
treed and shrub swamps, shallow water, and wet meadows. The
greater seasonal or daily water level fluctuation results in higher
decomposition rates, as well as increased nutrient availability.
Organic matter does not normally accumulate because changing
water levels or higher nutrient levels promotes decomposition.
Wildlife values are typically higher in mineral wetlands because of
the productive food supplies, such as aquatic plants and insects,
and the presence of open water.
Marsh plants
Mallard (CWS)
Shrubs
(rarely)
Pacific crabapple (Malus fusca)
willow species (Salix spp.)
red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)
Herbs
Freshwater Marshes
beaked sedge (Carex utriculata)
Sitka sedge (Carex sitchensis)
slough sedge (Carex obnupta)
small-flowered forget-me-not (Myosotis laxa)
tapered rush (Juncus acuminatus)
common spike rush (Eleocharis palustris)
cattail (Typha latifolia)
buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata)
reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea)
Rare57 plants of saline and
brackish marshes
graceful arrow-grass (R)
(Triglochin
concinnum)
Henderson’s checkermallow
(B) (Sidalcea hendersonii)
beach sand-spurry (B)
(Spergularia
macrotheca)
fleshy jaumea (B)
(Jaumea carnosa)
Saline and Brackish Marshes
American glasswort (Salicornia virginica)
seashore saltgrass (Distichlis spicata)
seacoast bulrush (Scirpus maritimus)
Lyngby’s sedge (Carex lyngbyei)
sea arrow-grass (Triglochin maritimum)
arctic rush (Juncus arcticus ssp. sitchensis)
seaside plantain (Plantago maritima ssp. juncoides)
tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa)
alkaligrass (Puccinellia spp.)
Introduced
plants
orache (Atriplex patula)
57
Provincially endangered or threatened (R-red-listed) or vulnerable (Bblue-listed) species as of May 2000 are noted; species ranked as infrequent
or uncommon (U) are noted in the table. Nationally rare species ranked by
COSEWIC, as of May 2000, are noted as endangered (E), threatened (T)
or of special concern (SC). See Glossary for further discussion.
68 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Wetland Ecosystems
Swamp plants
Trees
western redcedar (Thuja plicata)
Pacific crabapple (Malus fusca)
red alder (Alnus rubra)
black cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa)
Pacific willow (Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra)
Scouler’s willow (Salix scouleriana)
Shrubs
hardhack (Spiraea douglasii)
red osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)
Pacific ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)
salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)
black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii)
stink currant (Ribes bracteosum)
sweet gale (Myrica gale)
Sitka willow (Salix sitchensis)
Scouler’s willow (Salix scouleriana)
Pacific willow (Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra)
Hooker’s willow (Salix hookeriana)
Herbs
Ferns
skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanum)
lady fern (Athryrium felix-femina)
slough sedge (Carex obnupta)
Pacific water-parsley (Oenanthe sarmentosa)
Introduced
Plants
creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
stinging nettle (Urtica dioica ssp. dioica)
Examples of shrub and
treed swamps are
shown in photographs
on page 81.
Shallow water wetland plants
Herbs
floating-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton natans)
yellow pond-lily (Nuphar polysepalum)
hard-stemmed bulrush (Scirpus lacustris)
water-plantain (Alisma triviale)
water smartweed (Polygonum amphibium)
grass-leaved pondweed (Potamogeton gramineus)
greater bladderwort (Utricularia vulgaris)
watershield (Brasenia schreberi)
common mare’s- tail (Hippuris vulgaris)
Rare plant of shallow
water wetlands
water-pepper (B)
(Polygonum
hydropiperoides)
Mosses
common water moss (Fontinalis antipyretica)
(only on
Sphagnum moss
floating wood)
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 69
Wetland Ecosystems
Wet meadow plants
Rare plants of wet
meadows
Shrubs
(rarely
Pacific crab apple (Malus fusca)
willow species (Salix spp.)
red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)
Herbs
reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea)
tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia cespitosa)
tall mannagrass (Glyceria elata)
Sitka sedge (Carex sitchensis)
beaked sedge (Carex utriculata)
tapered rush (Juncus acuminatus)
slough sedge (Carex obnupta))
small flowered forget-me-not (Myosotis laxa)
cattail (Typha latifolia)
buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata)
cow parsnip (Heracleum lanatum)
common spike-rush (Eleocharis palustris)
green-sheathed sedge (B)
(Carex feta)
Geyer’s onion (R) (Allium
geyeri)
Northern adder’s tongue (R)
(Ophioglossum pusillum)
Status
Proportion of SEI sub-units with
Wetland Ecosystems
3.5%
bog
fen
marsh
shallow water
swamp
wet meadow
Percentage of sub-unit land area
3.0%
2.5%
2.0%
1.5%
1.0%
0.5%
Islands
Capital
Cowichan
Nanaimo
Comox
0.0%
Wetland ecosystems account for 1.7% (7,054 hectares) of the
entire SEI area. The most common wetland classes in the study
area are swamps and marsh; bogs and wet meadows are the least
common (see Table 7).
Climate and topography influence the occurrence and distribution
of wetlands. The Georgia Basin is warmer and drier than other
areas of coastal B.C. and the rain-shadow climate of the east coast
of Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands further restricts wetland
development. In a typical year, Victoria receives 858 mm of
precipitation and Campbell River receives 1,409 mm, whereas
Tofino, on the West coast of the island, receives 3,295 mm. Most
precipitation falls from October to March, with a pronounced
summer dry period. Colder, wetter climates encourage wetland
development by saturating soils or ponding water in depression
areas, reducing evapotranspiration, and creating cooler, saturated
soils, which hinder organic decomposition. Bogs and fens in
particular thrive in poorly-drained, cooler environments.
Topography also influences wetland creation. Sloped areas
generally support fewer wetlands than flat or undulating terrain.
In the Capital Sub-unit and the Islands Sub-unit, wetlands cover
less than 1% of the land surface, compared to 3% of the cooler and
wetter Comox Sub-unit. This is partially due to the increased
prevalence of hummocky, bedrock-controlled topography in the
70 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Wetland Ecosystems
southern part of the study area. In these areas, wetlands are
individually very small and widely scattered.
Table 7: Area (ha) of wetland ecosystems by sub-unit
bog
fen
marsh
shallow water
swamp
wet meadow
wetlandgeneral58
all wetlands
Comox Nanaimo Cowichan
33.5
62.9
47.00
261.8
68.2
60.9
719.3
473.5
284.0
204.8
75.2
82.7
2014.3
865.8
617.7
36.6
8.3
103.5
1.3
2.9
0.4
3238.1
1493.9
1149.2
Capital
12.1
82.5
120.0
37.3
283.5
1.0
1.5
Islands
16.3
66.0
210.7
80.1
102.6
10.8
5.1
Total
171.8
539.4
1807.5
480.1
3883.9
160.2
11.2
525.8
475.3
6882.3
Although the number of SEI sites and their total area reflect the
current status of wetlands, these figures do not provide an estimate
of how many wetlands occurred historically and how many have
been lost during the last 150 years. It has been well documented
that wetlands have declined globally because of agricultural
development, flood control, forestry, coastal development, and
urbanisation. Many of these same factors have affected wetlands in
the SEI study area. Salt and estuarine marshes on eastern
Vancouver Island have declined an estimated 32 percent since the
early 1900s. Most of the loss was associated with early settlers
dyking coastal59 and freshwater marshes for agriculture; however,
recent log handling impacts and marina construction has also
affected these marshes. In Washington State, where land use is
similar to the Georgia Basin, the areal extent of wetlands has
declined an estimated 31 percent since 1780.60
58
59
60
See Volume 1, section
4.2.5, page 61, for further
discussion of inventory
results relating to wetland
ecosystems.
Of seven bogs once
found in the Saanich
area, only one—Rithet’s
Bog—still remains.
No sub-category recorded during inventory.
Prentice and Boyd 1988.
Dahl 1990.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 71
Wetland Ecosystems
Why are they Important?
Historically, wetlands have been converted to “more productive”
land uses such as agriculture or forestry without recognition of
their economic, cultural, or ecological values as functioning
ecosystems. More recent understanding of some of the economic
benefits that wetlands provide, and a growing awareness and
interest in their intrinsic ecological or cultural values, has
increased the value and protection of wetlands.
Ecological attributes and socio-economic values pertaining to
wetland ecosystems are listed below. Some of these are common to
all SEI ecosystems and are discussed in Chapter 2.
Ecological Attributes
Rarity—Due to environmental and geographic factors,
wetland ecosystems are naturally rare in the study area relative
to other areas of coastal B.C. and undisturbed wetlands are
very rare (see also Status above). In addition, wetlands have
declined in the SEI study area due to agriculture, forestry and
urban development. Those remaining continue to contribute to
the high level of biodiversity of the region.
Fragility—Wetlands are highly vulnerable to a range of
disturbance factors, particularly those related to hydrologic
change (see also page 10).
Pacific treefrog
(K. Taylor)
The SEI study area is on
the Pacific Flyway, a
major migratory route for
birds traveling between
northern breeding
grounds and southern
wintering areas.
High biodiversity—Most wetlands are nodes of high biological
diversity and support a disproportionate number of rare species
or plant communities. Most wetlands, particularly mineral
wetlands, are extremely productive as breeding and feeding
areas for wildlife and they support a high number of habitat
niches. A typical wetland might have a central area of open
water that supports ducks and geese, a marsh fringe where
herons feed on threespine stickleback and northwestern
salamanders lay their eggs, and a forested swamp margin where
black bears feed on skunk cabbage roots in the spring.
Estuarine wetlands are one of the most productive habitats that
occur in the SEI study area—indeed in the world—and are
critical habitats for thousands of wintering waterbirds (see
sidebar). British Columbia’s relatively mild winter climate
encourages these birds to overwinter where they usually find
snow- and ice-free freshwater wetlands and agricultural fields
72 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Wetland Ecosystems
that, together with the estuaries, form a “wetlands complex.”61
Occasionally, however, severe weather does occur and during
these times, estuaries are the only habitats available that are
ice-free and have enough food to support the birds. Estuaries
are also critical to the survival of Pacific salmon. It’s in the
estuaries where they acclimatise themselves to the changing
water salinities when they leave the rivers as smolts and when
they return as adults to spawn.
Maintenance of water quality—Wetlands reduce the levels of
sediment, nutrients, and toxic chemicals in outflow water.
Learning from the natural wetlands, many communities now
use biofiltration wetlands in urban and agricultural areas to
mimic natural wetland processes and remove contaminants
before they enter streams. Biofiltration acts by using
vegetation and microbes to treat polluted water, but must be
carefully managed to prevent concentration of contaminants or
water temperature problems.
Socio-economic Values
Economic value—The economic value of the ecological
benefits provided by terrestrial wetlands has been measured
compared to other types of ecosystems (see sidebar). The value
has been estimated at more than $22,000 per hectare per year
for the hydrological, water quality, habitat and other functions
they provide, in contrast to forest, grassland, and cropland at a
fraction of this value. The only systems that are valued higher
than terrestrial wetlands are estuaries, valued at $34,000 per
hectare per year, and seagrass algae beds, valued at over
$28,000 per hectare per year.62 Estuaries are included within
the SEI definition of wetlands.
Many ecological
functions or “services”
are not fully captured in
markets or quantified in
terms comparable to
economic services, and
are therefore rarely
given enough weight in
land use decisions.
— Costanza et al.
Green space (see page 11).
Resource use—Some wetlands are habitat for fish and wildlife
with important economic values. Rainbow trout, cutthroat trout,
and coho salmon, as well as species such as ducks and geese are
economically important to communities in the SEI study area.
Young coho salmon rely on floodplain swamps and marshes as
overwintering habitat. Other salmon species including chinook
salmon, chum salmon, cutthroat trout, and steelhead depend on
intertidal marshes for feeding and rearing. Indeed, the loss of
estuarine habitat has been recognised as a contributing factor in
61
Eamer 1985.
Costanza et al. 1997. Their calculations were based primarily on
published studies that estimated market and non-market components of
the value of services such as water regulation, water supply, erosion
control, waste treatment, habitat refugia, food production, and recreation.
62
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 73
Wetland Ecosystems
the decline of fish stocks in the Georgia Basin. Other
commercial activities in wetlands may include peat mining and
American glasswort (Salicornia) harvesting.
International obligation—Canada has an obligation, as a
member of the Pacific Coast Joint Venture (PCJV), to ensure
the long-term maintenance of coastal wetland ecosystems. The
PCJV is an international partnership involving Canada, the
United States and Mexico and was established under the North
American Waterfowl Management Plan in 1991.
Outdoor recreation—Wetlands are treasured both for their
diversity of life and as opportunities to observe nature.
Birdwatching, nature photography, and other passive
recreational activities occur at or around wetlands. Wetlands
also provide recreational activities such as hunting and fishing.
Other wetland features that attract visitors include Sphagnum
bogs that support rare or unusual plants such as insectivorous
sundews and showy bog orchids (see also page 11).
(R. Savannah)
Research and nature education (see page 11).
Eco-tourism—The Trumpeter Swan Festival in Courtenay is
an example of an event in which wetland ecosystems play an
important role. Visitors to events such as these contribute to
local economies through the purchase of equipment, food,
accommodation, and other amenities (see also page 12).
Flood protection—Wetlands slow rainfall runoff into streams
and rivers by acting as storage sites for surface water. Runoff
is released slowly which reduces the peak storm flows and
increases summer base flows. Flooding in urban areas is often
caused by loss of wetland and soil storage areas, and a
concurrent increase in impervious surfaces such as roofs,
roads, and parking areas. In some areas, municipal
governments and private developers must now create flood
storage ponds to compensate for the loss of wetlands and the
increase in impervious surfaces.
74 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Wetland Ecosystems
Management
Recommendations
The ecological functions that wetlands provide, specifically water
storage and maintenance of water quality, are provided free of
charge. Yet, when these functions are removed from an area
through the loss or degradation of local wetlands, the costs to
replace them through technological means can be exorbitant. We
cannot live without water, nor can other organisms. Community
leaders and local governments should be diligent in promoting
the protection of every wetland in their area whether the wetland
is on private or public lands.
Effective wetland conservation requires an understanding of the
vulnerability of wetlands to human disturbance and the complexity
of wetland processes. This vulnerability also has serious
consequences for the wildlife dependent on those ecosystems. The
filling of a wetland eliminates the habitat for thousands of
organisms dependent on that wetland. Many simply cannot leave
the wetland and those that can usually find other wetlands already
occupied, and therefore unavailable. In addition to the relatively
recent extinction of numerous wetland-dependent species (see
sidebar), hundreds of additional species of fishes, snails,
crayfishes, and amphibians are considered threatened; they are
dying out five times faster than land species, and three times faster
than coastal marine mammals.64
This manual emphasises the interconnectedness between wetlands
and surrounding terrestrial areas, and the complexity of functional
processes related to climate, topography, and wetland vegetation.
The diversity of wetland classes and the range of vegetation
communities found in the SEI study area highlight this level of
complexity.
The world’s freshwater
ecosystems have been
degraded at an alarming
rate over the past 30 years.
Many species that depend
on these habitats have
disappeared; others are on
the brink of extinction. At
the same time, all signs
point to an increasing
global shortage of water for
essential human purposes
such as drinking, sanitation,
food production and energy
generation.
— World Wide Fund for
Nature63
Since 1900, at least 123
freshwater animal species
have become extinct in
North America.
— Ricciardi and Rasmussen
Activities such as dredging, dyking, or filling can cause severe
impacts to wetlands. Many wetlands, estuaries in particular, have
been severely fragmented, separating some portions of the
ecosystem from others. Earth or gravel fill has been used to raise
the surface of the land above the water table for residential or
commercial development. In addition, although many wetlands
were converted to agricultural lands long ago, clearing and dyking
of bogs and other wetlands for cranberry cultivation has recently
become a concern in the Comox-Strathcona Regional District.
63
64
Formerly known as the World Wildlife Fund.
Ricciardi and Rasmussen 1999.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 75
Wetland Ecosystems
Occasionally, these fragmented wetland ecosystems can be
restored,65 and restorative efforts should be encouraged whenever
possible (see page 20). Also, the impacts from human activities
can sometimes be mitigated,66 at least in part, but caution is
warranted.67 Wetlands in their natural state are critical to both
wildlife and people and they must be protected.
The world water cycle
seems unlikely to be able
to cope with the demands
that will be made of it in
the coming decades. Severe
water shortages already
hamper development in
many parts of the world,
and the situation is
deteriorating…
Finally, the indications
are that it is too late to
prevent global warming as
a result of increased
greenhouse gas emissions;
in addition, many of the
targets agreed on in the
Kyoto Protocol may not be
met.
—UNEP, GEO-2000
The role of climate in wetlands development makes them especially
vulnerable to climate change. A number of agencies, including the
United Nations Environment Program, now believe that we can no
longer prevent global warming (see sidebar).68 However, we can
and should try to minimise its severity. Changes to regional
precipitation and temperature patterns may cause shrinkage or loss
of wetlands. Sea level change may also cause rapid changes in
vegetation and productivity of estuarine marshes and other coastal
wetlands or cause them to disappear altogether. Researchers have
identified three ways that global warming may affect wetlands:
Changes to wetland hydrology may cause rapid succession of
some wetland classes or reduction in their areal extent.
Frequency of inundation will change.
Drying conditions will increase conflicts between wetland
values and agriculture or urban land uses (see also page 23).69
When developing a management plan for wetland ecosysems, it is
assumed that a local ecosystems plan and protection strategy have
been carried out (see pages 28 and 29). The following
recommendations will aid in the site management of wetland
ecosystems.
Delineate Buffers around Wetland
Ecosystems
Wherever possible, vegetated buffers should be delineated around
each wetland ecosystem and its associated riparian ecosystem as
described in Chapter 4 (page 30). Wetlands are particularly
sensitive to adjacent land use, which can affect the hydrology of the
wetland ecosystem. In establishing buffers, the larger watershed
should be considered, including the inflow and outflow locations in
the core sensitive ecosystem area. Identification of watershed areas
can also be helpful in designing landowner contact and
stewardship programs.
65
66
67
68
69
Dawe and McIntosh 1987.
Brownlee et al. 1984.
Dawe et al. in prep.
United Nations Environment Program 1999.
Hebda 1994.
76 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Wetland Ecosystems
Ecologists should be consulted to determine the location of the
wetland boundary. This boundary can be identified in the field by
the presence of hydrophytic vegetation, saturated, gleyed or
mottled soils, or seasonal signs of flooding (floating debris
deposits). In wetland margins, wet soils will reduce the
windfirmness of trees. Therefore, buffers should be designed with
a smooth windward edge and be located in areas of deep soils and
well rooted trees
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts
The following actions will help minimise impacts to wetland
ecosystems.
Discourage development within or adjacent to wetland
ecosystems.
Maintain wetland hydrology—Changes to wetland hydrology
are the most significant indirect impact to wetlands. Urban
wetlands are often degraded by the loss of groundwater
recharge caused by impervious area or flood control drainage.
Urban development causes more rapid runoff and reduces the
total amount of groundwater infiltration and summer soil
moisture. Agriculture is often associated with drain pipe
systems which reduce the storage capacity of the soil layer.
Clearcut logging can increase mean annual runoff by reducing
evapotranspiration through tree removal.
Please also refer to Section Two
for further suggestions for
incorporating guidelines into
local government policies and
regulations
Bogs and fens are particularly vulnerable to hydrologic
change. Draining a bog causes the upper layer of peat to
decompose and become drier. This can allow trees to invade
the wetland and change it from a moss and low shrub
dominated environment to a closed canopy forest.
Wetland hydrologists may need to be consulted to determine
methods for protecting wetland hydrology. These processes
should be maintained as follows, unless they pose a safety or
property danger.
Avoid drainage or ditching within the wetland’s zone of
hydrologic influence.
Prevent direct unfiltered stormwater discharges into the
wetland.
Muskrat (L. Friis)
Protect beaver dams or other natural features that influence
wetland hydrology, wherever possible.
Use porous pavements, infiltration galleries and innovative
development planning to minimize the effects of
impervious area coverage on groundwater infiltration.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 77
Wetland Ecosystems
Maintain water quality—Water pollution and changes to
water quality may arise in wetlands from such activities as
urban storm drainage, nutrient-rich agricultural runoff, and
sediment from road building and forestry harvesting. Septic
fields can also contaminate wetlands and cause human health
problems. Algae blooms or high levels of coliform bacteria are
indicators of high nutrient levels in wetlands (see also pages
25 and 31). Even limited changes in nitrogen or phosphorous
levels or changes to seasonal inundation patterns can reduce
the zone in which specific wetland inhabitants can live (see
also page 25).
Prevent the addition of these nutrient or sediment-rich
waters into wetlands. Bogs and fens are particularly
vulnerable to the addition of nutrient-rich water.
Restrict recreational access—Wetland soils are typically
saturated for at least part of the year, and are often high in
organic materials. Shrub and tree root systems as well as the
soils, are more easily damaged by trampling and trail
development in wetlands. Recreational trails can widen
considerably in wet sites adjacent to wetlands, as users tend to
move progressively away from the trail centre to avoid wet
conditions. Sediment from excessive trail damage can wash
into wetlands and affect amphibian and insect populations.
Horseback riding, mountain biking, all-terrain vehicle use and
hiking trails are inappropriate in wetland areas. Depending on
the sensitivity of the wetland, powerboats and jet skis may
have to be excluded and even canoeing may have to be
controlled during the nesting season. Where trails need to
access shoreline viewing points or cross portions of a wetland,
elevated boardwalks, viewing platforms, fences, railings,
seasonal trail closures, and signs should be used to reduce
access related impacts. To minimise water quality changes,
limestone-based trail surfacing materials, bark mulch, and
some types of preserved wood should not be used. In some
instances fencing may be an appropriate management tool to
restrict access to designated points around the wetland.
Restrict livestock access—Livestock grazing and trampling
can damage native species, compact soils and increase the
distribution of invasive species by compacting or exposing the
upper soil layer. Where grazing does occur, landowners should
work with government agencies and stewardship groups to
assess the impacts and, if necessary, take protective measures
such as fencing. Erecting fencing around the perimeter of the
wetland and allowing them access at one point only can
mitigate damage from livestock needing access to the water.
78 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Wetland Ecosystems
Restrict road access to inaccessible wetlands—Wherever
possible, road access to inaccessible wetlands should be
prevented or carefully managed to reduce damage.
Prevent disturbance of nesting or breeding areas—
Recreational activities on wetlands, such as canoeing at
inappropriate times, may impact nesting waterbirds such as
grebes and other waterfowl. Shallow open water wetlands with
adjacent marshes and forested edges are important breeding
areas for waterbirds such as Pied-billed Grebes, Mallards,
Wood Ducks, and Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teal.
Amphibians such as rough-skinned newts, long-toed and
northwestern salamanders, frogs and toads lay their eggs in the
early spring and the eggs are vulnerable to disturbance at that
time. Older red alder- and black cottonwood-dominated swamps
may support a high proportion of snags or damaged trees—
nesting sites for cavity nesters. Wood Ducks, woodpeckers,
and some species of owls nest in forested swamps. Nesting for
many coastal wetland species is from March through July and,
for some species, well into August (see also page 23).70
Common garter snake
(K. Taylor)
Control the introduction or spread of invasive plant species
by designating a broad invasive species management zone
within the wetland ecosystem. Purple loosestrife, reed canary
grass, yellow-flag iris, European glasswort, and European
bittersweet were commonly identified in the wetlands
surveyed. Eurasian water-milfoil and a variety of clams are
also a potential threat to natural wetlands and their inhabitants
(see also page 21).
Appropriate active control methods for invasive plants include
hand clearing, pruning, mowing, excavation, and planting of
appropriate native species. Consult agencies and people with
expertise in techniques and timing likely to be the most
successful for controlling individual species.
Control pets (see page 21).
Allow natural ecological processes to occur—Processes
critical to wetlands creation or maintenance include surface
and subsurface drainage processes that sustain the wetland
such as winter flooding, seasonal drawdown, beaver activity,
sediment accretion, tidal activity, and groundwater recharge
and discharge. In general, losses of water or greater water level
fluctuations cause wetland contraction or rapid wetland
succession.
Changes to natural disturbance regimes such as river and coastal
dyking prevents seasonal or daily flooding of some wetland
classes, resulting in loss of wetland functions (see also page 24).
70
Campbell et al. 1990a, 1990b.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 79
Wetland Ecosystems
Develop Carefully
Where development is allowed in wetland ecosystems, the general
development guidelines described in Chapter 4 (page 32) should
be followed, namely:
Require an ecological inventory conducted by a qualified
professional.
Plan, design and implement all land development activities
in a manner that will not adversely affect or disturb:
Wetland vegetation and structure—the loss of the
vegetation of any wetland removes habitat niches for other
organisms. For example, marsh vegetation is an important
component in the detrital food chain of estuaries and loss
of parts of an estuarine wetland can affect its productivity
and thus the number of organisms it can support. Loss of
wetland vegetation may also have some negative impacts
on the water quality of an area.
Rough-skinned newt (K. Taylor)
Endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species and natural
plant communities (and uncommon plant species)
associated with wetland ecosystems identified during the
planning and inventory stages.
Wildlife habitats, such as important breeding and nesting
sites.
Wetland soils and soil conditions.
Involve upstream land managers where possible to ensure
their activities do not adversely impact the wetland. Even
small wetlands on lands that are drained and filled may affect
the hydrology of an area and cause indirect impacts in other
areas far from the damaged site.
For suggestions on how to incorporate the above
recommendations into Official Community Plans and
Development Permit Areas,
see Chapter 14
80 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Wetland Ecosystems
This treed swamp represents a rare plant association with aspen (moss covered), sedge and Pacific
crab apple. Wetlands such as this are extremely productive as breeding and feeding areas for
wildlife and they support a high number of habitat niches. (Photo: Faye Smith)
Hardhack (foreground) is characteristic of shrub swamps,
the most commonly occurring type of wetland in the SEI
study area. They are normally not associated with open
water. (Photo: Andrea Ward)
This wetland demonstrates a typical concentric pattern of
plant distribution, with an edge of shrub swamp
surrounding marsh and shallow water. (Photo: Neil K. Dawe)
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 81
Riparian Ecosystems
The rich moist soils of riparian ecosystems support rapid tree growth and diverse
understorey species-the number of vascular plants, mosses, invertebrates, and small
mammals is higher here than in upslope areas. (Photo:Mark Kaarremaa)
Early stage in the development of a
riparian ecosystem. (Photo: Mark
Kaarremaa)
In mature riparian ecosystems, natural
disturbances such as flooding, windthrow,
channel changes, slope failures and debris flows
result in a variety of structural features which
contribute to the high biological diversity.
(Photo: Mark Kaarremaa)
Over half of the SEI riparian ecosystems are young riparian forests,
characterized by a dense, lush understorey and low structural diversity
which reflects the uniform age of the vegetation. (Photo: Nick Page)
Seepage areas along riparian gully walls maintain moist
soil conditions in the gully bottom. (Photo: Neil K. Dawe)
82 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
9 Riparian
What are Riparian
Ecosystems?
R
iparian ecosystems (RI) occur adjacent to lakes, streams,
and rivers, where increased soil moisture supports plant
communities and soils distinct from surrounding terrestrial
areas. This definition encompasses a broad range of sites
including lake and marsh margins, the floodplains of large rivers
and small streams, and gullies. Gullies may not be associated
with surface water flow, but often seepage areas along the gully
walls maintain moist soil conditions.
The width of a riparian ecosystem may vary from a few metres
next to small streams with steep banks to more than 100 metres
near larger rivers like the Puntledge and Little Qualicum. Because
of their association with rivers and streams, riparian ecosystems
are often linear, winding across valley bottoms. However, the
complex history of forestry, agriculture, and urban development
in the SEI study area has increased fragmentation and reduced the
continuity of many riparian ecosystems.
Riparian ecosystem
vs.
Riparian zone
‘Riparian ecosystems’ vary in
width and are delineated by
site-specific vegetation, soil,
and topographic features.
The term ‘riparian zone’ is
often used to describe a fixed
width management area
surrounding streams and
wetlands.
The Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory only recognised riparian
ecosystems that are relatively undisturbed by human activities.
Narrow bands of streamside forest surrounded by agricultural
fields were not recognised as a riparian ecosystem. Likewise,
urban stream corridors were not typically included as riparian
ecosystems. Those that were identified were typically at an older
stage and had been isolated from active human disturbance or
were at a younger stage in floodplain areas. However, although
not highlighted by this study, they are still important components
of the urban and rural landscapes.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 83
Riparian Ecosystems
Riparian ecosystems are highly dynamic. Natural chronic and
episodic disturbances include shifting channels, which can
undercut trees, periodic flooding, and windthrow of shallow rooted
trees. These events increase structural forest features such as snags,
downed logs, and a multi-layered, uneven aged canopy, as well as
a range of successional stages from recently exposed gravel bars to
western redcedar forest. These features contribute to high habitat
diversity.
Douglas’ aster (Aster
subspicatus)
(E.J. Stephen)
Riparian ecosystems commonly vary in dominant plant species,
vegetation age, and structure radiating out from the aquatic feature
due to changing soil moisture and light levels. This pattern of
zonation is more pronounced along large rivers. Nearest the river
channel, grasses, sedges, and some forbs such as Douglas’ aster,
cow-parsnip, and purple-leaved willowherb colonise the highest
part of exposed gravel or cobble bars. Willows, alder and black
cottonwood also grow rapidly, once seeds from surrounding areas
are lodged between rocks or covered by layers of gravel or silt.
Upslope from the channel margin, red alder, black cottonwood,
western hemlock, and western redcedar are the dominant species.
These trees thrive in the rich, moist soils of riparian ecosystems
and are tolerant of periodic flooding.
Structural Stages
See Volume 1, Appendix 2
for a full description of
structural stages.
Most riparian ecosystems
identified by the SEI using
air photos were
assemblages of more than
one structural stage.
For example, the code
RI:5:2 in the SEI
database denotes a
riparian ecosystem with
young forest (RI:5) as the
dominant stage with herb
areas (RI:2) secondary.
Riparian ecosystems in the SEI are classified and named according
to structural stage (see sidebar). Structural stages are based on the
age and structure of dominant vegetation. Examples of common
riparian plant communities in the SEI are described below.
Early stages
Stage 1 (RI:1): Sparse/bryoid—moss and lichen
dominated, <10% treed, <20% shrub/herb;
Stage 2 (RI:2): Herb—herb dominated, <20% shrub,
<10% treed;
Stage 3 (RI:3): Shrub/herb—>20% shrub, <10% treed.
Sparsely or non-vegetated areas such as gravel bars and other
recently disturbed riparian sites support a distinct assemblage
of herb and grass species, intermixed with early successional
trees and shrubs <10m tall. Seedlings of red alder, Scouler’s or
Sitka willow, and black cottonwood are common where seeds
have washed or blown onto sand or gravel. Plant colonisation
is often patchy. Colonising species are typically tolerant of
seasonal inundation, flood scouring, and gravel or cobble
dominated substrates. Older gravel bar communities can
support dense growths of willows, red-osier dogwood, and
84 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Riparian Ecosystems
Pacific ninebark. Dense growth is commonly associated with
specific topographic or structural features on the gravel bar
surface. Areas of finer sediment, debris jams, large logs
contribute to vegetation establishment by providing higher soil
moisture or protected sites for plant establishment.
Pole/sapling (RI:4)—Trees >10m tall, densely stocked, may
be coniferous, deciduous, or mixed stand between 10 and 40
years old. Red alder stands are prevalent throughout the SEI
study area and reflect the patterns of forest harvesting and land
clearing in riparian ecosystems as alder is one of the first tree
species to colonise disturbed areas. Young big-leaf maple,
western redcedar, black cottonwood, western hemlock, and
Douglas-fir occur within the red alder canopy. Understorey
development varies from dense salmonberry to sparse forbs and
ferns because of heavy shade.
Young forest (RI:5)—Natural thinning of red alder has
occurred and structural diversity increases, although it is
generally low, reflecting the uniform age of young forests and
the lack of snags or downed logs. Trees are generally less than
80 years old. The understorey is dense and lush with shrubs
such as salmonberry. Red alder and salmonberry can be
persistent on some riparian sites, and slow or prevent conifer
succession.
Mature forest (RI:6)—These may be second-growth
coniferous or mixed coniferous-deciduous stands with distinct
layering of the canopy, generally 80 to more than 200 years old.
Understorey species are generally well developed as the canopy
opens up. Mixed stands occur in less frequently inundated sites,
such as hummocks or high flood benches. Conifers such as
Douglas-fir are less tolerant of wet soils and frequent flooding
than deciduous species. Other stands are comprised of
senescing red alder with conifers such as western redcedar in
canopy gaps. Western redcedar is the climax tree species in
many riparian ecosystems due to moist conditions. Western
redcedar and western hemlock are shade tolerant which allows
them to regenerate under closed deciduous canopies.
Understorey diversity varies. Mosses, ferns, and false lily-ofthe-valley may predominate on moist sites, whereas wetter sites
support dense growth of salmonberry and red elderberry.
Little brown bat (L. Friis)
Old Forest (RI:7)—Trees >250 years old. These old
structurally complex stands consist of shade tolerant tree
species although some long-lived seral species may persist in
the upper canopy. Species composition is similar to mature
forest, with a canopy of western redcedar, Sitka spruce, or
Douglas-fir and a sub-canopy of bitter cherry, big leaf maple or
cascara. Snags and coarse woody debris in various stages of
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 85
Riparian Ecosystems
decay are common. Understories are patchy and variable
depending on the number and size of canopy gaps. These stands
were very rare in the study area.
Plants of riparian ecosystems
Trees
red alder (Alnus rubra)
black cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa)
western redcedar (Thuja plicata)
bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum)
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)
Shrubs
Scouler’s willow (Salix scouleriana)
Pacific ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)
red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)
thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)
salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)
red alder (Alnus rubra)
black cottonwood (Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa)
devil’s club (Oplopanax horridus)
red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)
stink currant (Ribes bracteosum)
trailing blackberry (Rubus ursinus)
Indian-plum (Oemleria cerasiformis)
Herbs
cow-parsnip (Heracleum maximum)
Douglas’ aster (Aster subspicatus)
palmate coltsfoot (Petasites frigidus var. palmatus)
purple-leaved willowherb (Epilobium ciliatum)
vanilla-leaf (Achlys triphylla)
baneberry (Actaea rubra)
false lily-of the valley (Maianthemum dilatatum)
small-flowered wood rush (Luzula parviflora)
skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanum)
Mosses
Ferns
roadside rock moss (Racomitrium canescens)
horsetail species (Equisetum spp.)
Menzies’ tree moss (Leucolepis acanthoneuron)
slender beaked moss (Kindbergia praelonga)
badge moss (Plagiomnium insigne)
sword fern (Polystichum munitum)
lady fern (Athyrium felix-femina)
Oregon beaked moss (Kindbergia oregana)
Vancouver Island
beggarticks (U) (Bidens
amplissima)
(E.J. Stephen)
Rare71 plants of riparian
ecosystems
Smith’s fairybells (B)
(Disporum smithii)
semaphore grass (B)
(Pleuropogon refractus)
Scouler’s corydalis (R)
(Corydalis scouleri)
71
Provincially endangered or threatened (R-red-listed) or vulnerable (Bblue-listed) species as of May 2000 are noted; species ranked as infrequent
or uncommon (U) are noted in the table. Nationally rare species ranked by
COSEWIC, as of May 2000, are noted as endangered (E), threatened (T)
or of special concern (SC). See Glossary for further discussion.
86 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Riparian Ecosystems
Status
3.0%
old forest
mature forest
young forest
early stage
gully
2.5%
2.0%
1.5%
1.0%
0.5%
Islands
Capital
Cowichan
Nanaimo
0.0%
Comox
Riparian ecosystems are widely distributed in the SEI study area,
but, similar to wetlands, their areal extent varies substantially
between the five sub-units. They are at their maximum extent in
the Comox Sub-unit but decline in extent southwards; the Capital
and Islands sub-units have the lowest representation. Many riparian
ecosystems are associated with the floodplains of large, alluvial
rivers such as the Cowichan, Little Qualicum, Nanaimo, and
Tsolum. The undulating topography and drier climate of the south
island restricts the development of large rivers. As a consequence,
these areas support fewer and less extensive riparian ecosystems.
Proportion of SEI sub-units with
RiparianEcosystems
Percentage of sub-unit land area
Riparian ecosystems occupy approximately 1.6% (over 6,700
hectares) of the study area (see Table 8). About 20% of the riparian
category comprises early seral stages of unvegetated or shrubby
gravel bars (stages 1-3); most of it (55%) is mapped as immature
or young deciduous or coniferous forest (structural stages 4 and 5).
Another 22% of the total represents mature forests (stage 6). Old
growth-dominated floodplain forests (structural stage 7) are very
rare—only 12 sites were identified in this category, representing
less than 2% of the total riparian area mapped.
Table 8: Area (ha) of riparian ecosystems by sub-unit
SEI subunit
Comox
Nanaimo
Cowichan
Capital
Islands
Total
early
stages
(1-3)
469.6
370.9
480.8
2.8
5.5
1329.6
young
forest
(4-5)
mature
forest
(6)
old
forest
(7)
gully
1696.7
1108.9
584.7
307.4
21.0
3718.7
622.2
605.4
194.3
67.7
9.9
1499.6
20.6
63.5
22.5
3.8
0
110.4
9.0
3.7
41.5
0
0
54.1
Total
(g)
2818.1
2152.4
1323.8
381.7
36.4
6712.4
See Volume 1, section 4.2.6,
page 63, for further
discussion of inventory
results relating to riparian
ecosystems.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 87
Riparian Ecosystems
Why are they Important?
Ecological attributes and socio-economic values pertaining to
riparian ecosystems are listed below. Some of these are common to
all SEI ecosystems and are more fully discussed in Chapter 2.
Ecological Attributes
High biodiversity—Of all the sensitive ecosystems, riparian
ecosystems support a disproportionately higher number of
wildlife species for the area they occupy. The number of
vascular plant, moss, invertebrate, and small mammal species
is higher than in upslope areas. Reasons for this include:
Structural complexity and
diversity in natural forests
provide the key to much of
the species richness of
organisms, habitat, and
processes
— Franklin 1992
These nutrient-rich environments rarely have summer soil
moisture deficits. Tree growth is rapid and understories are
rich in species and sometimes impenetrably dense.
Wildlife use is high because riparian ecosystems combine
three critical habitat elements—food, water, and cover.
Riparian species include muskrat, river otter, mink, and the
red-listed Vancouver Island water shrew.72 Waterfowl, such
as the Common Merganser, nest along river banks and
songbirds like the Yellow Warbler and Warbling Vireo
depend on riparian habitats for parts of their life cycle. The
dense cover is important to many species that use riparian
ecosystems for migration and dispersal.
There is a concentration of varied habitat niches (i.e.,
structural elements such as snags, downed logs, coarse
woody debris and a multi-layered forest canopy) that are
important for wildlife species.
There are more internal edges and layers in a short
distance due to understorey shrubs, deciduous trees, and
coniferous trees than in adjacent upslope forest stands.
The linear shape of most riparian ecosystems maximises
the amount of edge habitats with surrounding forest, as
well as with water, thus creating diverse and productive
habitats for the species adapted to these conditions.
Riparian ecosystems have different microclimates from
surrounding coniferous forests due to increased humidity,
a higher rate of transpiration, and greater air movement;
these conditions are preferred by some species during hot
weather.
72
Cannings et al. 1999.
88 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Riparian Ecosystems
Varying soil moisture conditions also contribute to plant
diversity.
Aquatic habitat protection—Riparian ecosystems contribute
to the ecological health of adjacent aquatic areas through
shading, bank stability, and the addition of large logs into the
stream or lake margin. Recent research has focused on the
benefits of forested riparian ecosystems in maintaining the
ecological health of small streams (see sidebar).73 Researchers
in Washington State found that stream health declined as
riparian forest became narrower. 74
Riparian ecosystems shade the streams, maintaining the cool
water temperatures required by many aquatic organisms; they
stabilise banks, provide large logs to increase channel habitat,
and are a source of insects, leaves, and small branches—the
building blocks of an aquatic food chain. Fish habitat values
associated with the structural complexity of small streams is
due largely to high levels of stable wood debris that originates
in riparian ecosystems.
A band of riparian forest
greater than 30 metres wide is
needed to maintain the
highest levels of fish and
aquatic insects in a stream.
Maintenance of water quality—The soils and vegetation in
riparian ecosystems can act as a filter to prevent nutrients,
water-borne sediments and toxic material from reaching the
adjacent stream, river, or lake. Nutrients from heavily fertilised
agriculture fields and urban runoff are removed by soil microorganisms and vegetation uptake as soil water passes through
riparian soils. Filtering is only effective if the riparian area is 15
to 50 metres, or in some cases even wider (see also page 31).75
Wildlife corridors—The linear nature of some riparian
ecosystems contributes to their effectiveness as wildlife
corridors and provides linkages within the broader landscape.
They allow individuals or species to disperse between habitats,
which is important for maintaining genetic diversity, and may
also allow for recolonisation of habitat patches following
disturbance or loss of small local populations (see also
page 20).
73
74
75
Millar et al. 1997.
May et al. 1997.
Millar et al. 1997.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 89
Riparian Ecosystems
Socio-economic Values
Examples of remnant
riparian areas used as
park corridors:
Mack Laing Park, Comox
Rosewall Creek Provincial
Park
Millstone River Greenway,
Nanaimo
Green space—In many jurisdictions, riparian ecosystems are
used as park corridors because they are linear and are often the
only remnant natural vegetation that remains in urban areas.
Airphotos of the SEI study area highlight the stream corridors
and gullies as narrow fingers of vegetation within urban and
rural landscapes. These riparian ecosystems with their
associated floodplains and steep ravines or gullies have been
partially protected by their difficult development constraints.
The lack of continuity of most riparian ecosystems in the SEI
reduces their suitability as corridors; however, some
jurisdictions have taken advantage of this remnant green space
(see sidebar, also page 11).
Research and nature education (see page 11)
Flood protection and erosion reduction—Like wetlands,
riparian ecosystems can reduce peak flows by slowing or
storing runoff. Infilling of floodplain areas by development
reduces water storage capacity and removes vegetation that can
reduce water velocity and scouring. Dense root growth of
vegetation in riparian ecosystems also provides bank stability.
Unvegetated banks are prone to erosion, undercutting and
slumping. However, even within these ecosystems, dynamic
channel changes can lead to tree fall and bank slumping,
threatening properties. Riparian areas can buffer these effects
if development is not allowed too close.
Management
Recommendations
Some disturbed riparian
ecosystems not identified as
part of the SEI are still
important for many wildlife
species and may still
require protection under the
Canada Fisheries Act and
the British Columbia Fish
Protection Act.
Riparian ecosystems have attracted considerable public attention in
the last decade because of increased awareness of their value in
stream and river protection, and greater emphasis on connecting
natural areas and urban parks with greenways or park corridors.
Most protection has focused on fisheries or wildlife values, with
less emphasis on the diversity and ecology of riparian vegetation
communities. Buffer zones, restrictive covenants, and tree or
watercourse protection bylaws have been used by many
jurisdictions in the SEI study area to protect riparian ecosystems.
As well, the process by which ecosystems or habitat areas are
protected during development is better developed for riparian
ecosystems than for other sensitive ecosystem types. Again, this is
because of the link between fish habitat protection and the
management of riparian ecosystems.
90 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Riparian Ecosystems
Many riparian ecosystems in the SEI are characterised by lack of
continuity and intense fragmentation. Efforts should be made to
maintain connections with adjacent upland ecosystems and to
reduce fragmentation in order to preserve wildlife migration and
dispersal functions (see also page 20).
When developing a management plan for riparian ecosysems, it is
assumed that a local ecosystems plan and protection strategy have
been carried out (see page 28). The following recommendations
will aid in the site management of riparian ecosystems.
Delineate Buffers around Riparian
Ecosystems
Wherever possible, vegetated buffers should be delineated around
each riparian ecosystem as described in Chapter 4 (page 30) (see
also sidebar). As in wetlands, the wet soils around riparian
ecosystems may cause trees to be shallow rooted and prone to
windthrow. Other edge effects include increased susceptibility to
invasive species colonisation and loss of habitat features or plant
communities associated with the interior (non-edge) ecosystems
(see page 22). Similarly, riparian ecosystems are more affected by
indirect disturbances and upland land use.
Existing fish and wildlife
habitat management buffer
requirements should be
followed where necessary.
Buffers need to be large enough to protect the core ecosystem from
edge effects, such as increased light and temperature and decreased
moisture, noise and windthrow. For example, logging activity to
the edge of a riparian ecosytem produces an increase in light,
temperature and humidity. The need to maintain riparian moisture
and temperature levels is critical to many animals that use riparian
for feeding, breeding and nesting.
Buffering riparian ecosystems is more complex than buffering
upland forest; however, similar principles can be applied to the
buffer edge whether it be forested or developed. If the buffer is
forested, apply the following.
The windward edge should be smooth and located in areas of
deep soils and well rooted trees.
Buffers should be widened in areas with even aged forests with
poor root stability, particular in stands dominated by western
hemlock.
Edge stabilisation treatments including feathering, sail
pruning, topping, and removal of unsound trees should be used
to ensure a windfirm edge.
If the buffer is non-forested, consider reforesting and follow the
recommendations in the next sections.
Palmate coltsfoot
(Petasites frigidus var.
palmatus) (E.J. Stephen)
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 91
Riparian Ecosystems
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts
Development in floodplain
areas has increased property
damage, which has increased
the justification for large-scale
channel engineering.
Although riparian protection has increased in recent years,
incremental damage still occurs in many urbanising areas and on
private forest lands. Maintaining the hydrological system is critical
to ecosystem management. Vegetation loss or damage can result
from logging, land development, river engineering and floodplain
filling, road, powerline or pipeline crossings of rivers or streams,
the construction of recreational facilities including trails and access
roads, and livestock grazing. Even in areas that lack grasses or
forbs, sheep, cattle, or goats can rapidly browse and damage
understorey shrubs and tree seedlings. The following actions will
help minimise impacts to riparian ecosystems.
Discourage development within or adjacent to riparian
ecosystems— (see page 31).
Manage access—Reduce the effects of recreational or other
human access in riparian ecosystems using active control
methods including fences and railings, passive methods such
as signs and careful site selection for trails (see Develop
Carefully below).
Restrict livestock access—Install permanent or temporary
fences using barbed wire or high tensile steel (not page-wire
which restricts wildlife movement). A 45 cm gap between the
ground and the first wire should be installed to allow wildlife
access between riparian and upslope areas.
Prevent disturbance of nesting or breeding areas—see also
page 23)
Mink (L. Friis)
Control invasive species—Invasive plant species that originate
in surrounding residential gardens can disrupt riparian
vegetation communities. Livestock grazing can also increase the
distribution of invasive species by compacting or exposing the
upper soil layer. Early seral riparian ecosystems are particularly
prone to colonisation and dominance of giant knotweed, reed
canary grass and Himalayan blackberry whereas English ivy,
spurge-laurel and English holly are common in the later stages.
Control the introduction or spread of invasive species by
designating a broad invasive species management zone (see
also Chapter 4, page 30). Consult a specialist to determine the
best techniques and timing for control of invasive species (see
also page 21).
Protect structural features—Protect snags, downed logs, and
large live trees. Many of these will be effectively protected
using buffer zones, however, additional recognition of their
importance for riparian ecology is needed in some situations.
92 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Riparian Ecosystems
Snags can pose a safety risk near trails and shake block cutting
can rapidly deplete large, downed western red cedar logs from
riparian ecosystems.
Allow natural disturbances and successional processes to
occur—Flooding, windthrow, channel changes, slope failures
and debris flows are recognised as important factors in the
creation and maintenance of high diversity riparian habitats.
These events and processes should be maintained as follows
unless they pose a threat to safety or property.
Minimise bank or flood protection. Human changes such
as channel stabilisation, deposition of rip-rap and tree
removal result in the loss of the range of habitats upon
which many species depend.
Maintain natural flow regimes. Deforestation or increased
impervious surfacing can result in significant increases in
the size, duration, and frequency of floods. Vegetation
change can also result as flood tolerant species replace
coniferous trees. Bank erosion can also worsen.
Develop Carefully
Where development is allowed in riparian ecosystems, the general
development guidelines described in Chapter 4 (page 32) should
be followed, namely:
Require an ecological inventory conducted by a qualified
professional.
Plan, design and implement all land development activities
(including road crossings, utility rights-of-way, or trails) in
a manner that will not adversely affect or disturb:
Trees, understorey plants, and other riparian vegetation.
Endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species and natural
plant communities (and uncommon plant species)
associated with riparian ecosystems identified during the
planning and inventory stage.
Natural processes related to disturbance events and
ecological succession, such as natural flow regimes of
streams, seasonal flooding, stream channel movement,
senescence of seral species, windthrow or blow-down of
trees, and natural slope failures.
Nesting and denning sites; many activities can destroy
habitat and disturb or destroy active nests.
Standing dead and dying trees, snags, fallen trees, downed
logs, and similar forest features.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 93
Riparian Ecosystems
Natural corridors and connectivity of riparian species and
habitats with important upland ecosystems.
Design road crossings, utility rights-of-way and other
narrow corridors as follows.
Roads should be narrow, perpendicular to the riparian
ecosystem, and elevated or bridged if possible to maintain
wildlife connections such as daily or seasonal movements
of amphibians and mammals.
Within corridors, plant native vegetation to provide habitat
and cover for animals living in or passing through these
corridors (see also page 20).
Black bear (L. Friis)
Align trails as follows. Trails directly under trees may compact
the root zone and lead to deterioration in tree health; trails in
areas of groundwater recharge or discharge areas can disrupt
the groundwater regime that nourishes nearby or even distant
trees.
Provide the most direct route to viewing areas or crossing
structures.
Avoid areas with high soil compaction potential.
Avoid sensitive or unique vegetation including root
systems.
Prevent intrusion into wet areas including seepage sites
and wetlands.
Avoid erodable stream or ravine banks or, preferably,
locate inland of the stream or river.
For suggestions on how to incorporate the above
recommendations into Official Community Plans and
Development Permit Areas,
see Chapter 14
94 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Woodland Ecosystems
Arbutus-Douglas-fir woodlands are common on dry sites such as south facing slopes with
rocky, nutrient-poor soils. Understorey species are generally less diverse and productive
than in Garry oak woodlands. (Photo: Nick Page)
Trembling aspen woodlands are rare in the SEI
study area. (Photo: Mark Kaarremaa)
Garry oak woodlands have been reduced
to less than 5% of their original extent.
(Photo: Trudy Chatwin)
96 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
10 Woodland
What are Woodland
Ecosystems?
W
oodland ecosystems (WD) are open deciduous forests
composed of pure or mixed stands of Garry oak, mixed
stands of arbutus and Douglas-fir, or pure stands of
trembling aspen. Woodlands are found on a broad range of sites
where disturbance or soil conditions restrict the establishment of
closed conifer forest. However, most occur on rocky knolls, south
facing slopes, and ridges where summer soil moisture is low and
shallow soils are common. Trembling aspen woodlands are an
exception, and are typically associated with moist, rich sites.
Mature big-leaf maple is also recognised as the dominant tree
species in several woodland sites. Although these stands do not
meet the strict definition of “woodland” used in the SEI study area,
they were included in the database because of their diversity and
local significance.
Isolated Garry oak, arbutus,
or trembling aspen trees
scattered throughout many
areas of the SEI are not
considered woodland
ecosystems. These areas
support too few of the plant or
animal species that make up
the woodland to be considered
functioning ecosystems.
In a region where coniferous forest often extends from the ocean
to the mountaintops, open woodlands are distinct in ecology,
history, and biological diversity. B.C.’s oak and arbutus woodlands
are peripheral populations with close affinities to ecosystems in
Washington, Oregon, and California. They occur on the southeast
coast of Vancouver Island and on the adjacent Gulf Islands largely
because of the warm, dry, rainshadow climate and historically
frequent fire that characterise the Georgia Basin. The northern part
of the SEI study area is wetter and cooler and hence supports
fewer woodlands.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 97
Woodland Ecosystems
White-topped aster (R)
(Aster curtus) (E.J. Stephen)
The open stand structure, soil conditions, and disturbance regime
create an environment favouring the shrub, grass, and forb species
characteristic of these ecosystems. Thus, woodlands may also be
interspersed with other SEI ecosystems such as coastal bluff or
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems. Woodlands are artifacts of
previous climate, the remnants protected from conifer invasion by
disturbance events such as lightning-induced wildfire, aboriginal
burning, and elk and deer grazing. All of these processes are critical
to maintaining woodland health and the ecosystem’s natural cycles.
For example, fires thinned out competing coniferous species,
recycled nutrients into the soil, released and scarified seeds, and
maintained the open woodland canopy for sunlight to enter.
Changes to the disturbance regime, such as fire suppression, has
caused Douglas-fir and shrubs to invade some woodlands. The
prevalence of invasive species and reduced regeneration success of
some woodland tree species may be the result of changes in the
frequency and severity of these disturbance events.
Garry Oak Woodlands
Rare76 plants of Garry oak
woodlands
seaside birdsfoot trefoil (R)
(Lotus formosissimus)
white-topped aster (R,
COSEWIC-T) (Aster
curtus)
Howell’s triteleia (R)
(Triteleia howellii)
yellow montane violet (R,
COSEWIC-T) (Viola
praemorsa)
deltoid balsamroot (R,
COSEWIC-E)
(Balsamorhiza
deltoidea)
apple moss (R, COSEWICE) (Bartramia stricta)
Garry oak woodlands are the most biologically rich of the three
woodland communities. They support the highest number of species
of conservation concern in the SEI study area and are highly
vulnerable to urban and rural development. Oak woodlands
encompass a number of inter-related communities including open
oak woodlands and meadows, as well as more densely forested
oak/conifer plant associations. The occurrence of oak woodlands is
usually due to a lack of summer rainfall, shallow soils, excessive
drainage, or disturbance events such as fire. Garry oak forms pure
stands in some sites but is often mixed with Douglas-fir, grand fir,
and arbutus depending on site conditions.
76
Provincially endangered or threatened (R-red-listed) or vulnerable (Bblue-listed) species as of May 2000 are noted; species ranked as infrequent
or uncommon (U) are noted in the table. Nationally rare species ranked
by COSEWIC, as of May 2000, are noted as endangered (E), threatened
(T) or of special concern (SC). See Glossary for further discussion.
98 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Woodland Ecosystems
Plants of Garry oak woodland ecosystems
Trees
Garry oak (Quercus garryana)
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), occasionally
arbutus (Arbutus menziesii)
Shrubs
oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)
snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
tall Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
Herbs
Mosses
Ferns
Spikemosses
common camas (Camassia quamash)
great camas (Camassia leichtlinii)
California brome (Bromus carinatus)
yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
field chickweed (Cerastium arvense)
spring-gold (Lomatium utriculatum)
blue wildrye (Elymus glaucus)
Alaska oniongrass (Melica subulata)
broad-leaved shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii)
satin-flower (Olsynium douglasii var. douglasii)
Pacific sanicle (Sanicula crassicaulis)
blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia parviflora)
western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis)
Menzies larkspur (Delphinium menziesii)
chocolate lily (Fritillaria affinis)
long-stoloned sedge (U) (Carex inops)
Nuttall’s quillwort (U) (Isoetes nuttallii)
white fawn lily (Erythronium oregonum)
harvest brodeia (U) (Brodiaea coronaria)
fool’s onion (Triteleia hyacinthina)
few-flowered shooting star (Dodecatheon pulchellum)
electrified cat’s tail moss (Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus)
broom moss (Dicranum scoparium)
Wallace’s selaginella (Selaginella wallacei)
licorice fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza)
Garry oak (B. Penn)
Rare natural plant
communities of Garry
oak woodlands
Garry oak/arbutus (R)
(Quercus
garryana/Arbutus
menziesii)
Garry oak/California brome
(R) (Quercus
garryana/Bromus
carinatus)
Garry oak/oceanspray (R)
(Quercus
garryana/Holodiscus
discolor)
Douglas-fir/Garry
oak/Alaska oniongrass
(R) (Pseudotsuga
menziesii/Quercus
garryana/Melica
subulata)
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 99
Woodland Ecosystems
Arbutus—Douglas-fir Woodlands
Arbutus—Douglas-fir woodlands are common on dry sites such as
south facing slopes with rocky, nutrient-poor soils. This community
exhibits a large variation in composition but it is typically
comprised of arbutus with lesser components of Garry oak and
Douglas-fir. Pure stands of arbutus sometimes arise after cutting of
Douglas-fir and burning. These fire-created stands were not
identified as sensitive ecosystems due to their disturbance history.
Understorey species diversity and productivity is typically lower
than in Garry oak woodlands due to reduced nutrient levels. Low
growth of salal and dull Oregon grape is common in many sites.
Invasive species are less common in arbutus—Douglas-fir
woodlands than in oak woodlands.
Rare natural plant
communities of
arbutus—Douglas-fir
woodlands
Garry oak/arbutus (R)
(Quercus
garryana/Arbutus
menziesii)
Douglas-fir/arbutus (B)
(Pseudotsuga
menziesii/Arbutus
menziesii)
Douglas-fir/shore
pine/arbutus (B)
(Pseudotsuga
menziesii/Pinus contorta
var. contorta/Arbutus
menziesii)
Plants of arbutus—Douglas-fir woodland ecosystems
Trees
arbutus (Arbutus menziesii)
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Garry oak (Quercus garryana), occasionally
Shrubs
oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)
tall Oregon grape (Mahonia aqufolium)
baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa)
trailing blackberry (Rubus ursinus)
snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
salal (Gaultheria shallon)
hairy honeysuckle (Lonicera hispidula)
falsebox (Paxistima myrsinites)
Herbs
blue wildrye (Elymus glaucus)
Alaska oniongrass (Melica subulata)
California brome (Bromus carinatus)
Scouler’s hairbell (Campanula scouleri)
purple peavine (Lathyrus nevadensis)
yerba buena (Satureja douglasii)
Pacific sanicle (Sanicula crassicaulis)
Mosses
electrified cat’s tail moss (Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus)
Oregon beaked moss (Kindbergia oregana)
broom moss (Dicranum scoparium)
100 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Woodland Ecosystems
Trembling Aspen Woodlands
Trembling aspen woodlands have similar ecological requirements
to red alder and are common on disturbed sites with moist soils.
Little is known about the ecology of trembling aspen on the coast.
In the interior, it is often a fire-associated species and resprouts
following intense fires. Trembling aspen is a clonal plant species
that expands vegetatively through runners. Many trembling aspen
stands are a single organism connected by a network of roots.
Trembling aspen woodlands are designated as sensitive ecosystems
in the SEI study area because of their limited occurrence and
vulnerability to habitat loss or alteration. Some trembling aspen
woodlands are encompassed within riparian and wetland
ecosystems.
Plants of trembling aspen woodland ecosystems
Trees
trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides)
Shrubs
black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii)
hardhack (Spiraea douglasii)
cascara (Rhamnus purshiana)
red-osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera)
snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
Indian-plum (Oemleria cerasiformis)
baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa)
saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia)
red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)
trailing blackberry (Rubus ursinus)
Herbs
large-leaved avens (Geum macrophyllum)
Pacific water-parsley (Oenanthe sarmentosa)
Song Sparrow (M. Hames)
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 101
Woodland Ecosystems
Status
Proportion of SEI sub-units with
Woodland Ecosystems
Percentage of sub-unit land area
2.0%
1.5%
1.0%
0.5%
Woodlands are one of the most threatened ecosystems in the SEI
study area, covering only 0.6% (2419 ha) of the SEI region (see
Table 9). Most occur in the Capital and Islands sub-units and are
less common in the Nanaimo and Comox-Strathcona sub-units.
This distribution pattern is associated with increasing summer
rainfall further north, which results in increased competition from
Douglas-fir and other conifers. Over 80% of woodland sites cover
less than 5 hectares (the mean size is just under 2 hectares).
Most woodlands have been lost to urban and rural development.
Estimates indicate that about 5% of historic Garry oak woodlands
are still present, and of these remnants, many are seriously
degraded by invasive species. Any further losses pose a big threat
to this ecosystem type. Arbutus–Douglas-fir woodlands have been
less affected by urban development but are more vulnerable to
forestry activities. The areal extent of trembling aspen woodlands
is extremely small.
0.0%
Table 9: Area (ha) of woodland ecosystem by sub-unit
See Volume 1, section
4.2.7, page 65, for further
discussion of inventory
results relating to
woodland ecosystems.
SEI sub-unit
Comox
Nanaimo
Cowichan
Capital
Islands
Total
Woodland
24.3
82.1
357.2
1156.3
898.9
2518.8
No. of Sites
5
15
58
275
260
613
The geographical range of woodland has also been reduced. Prior
to settlement in the 1860s, between 250 and 350 hectares of oak
woodland-grassland mosaic occurred in the Tsolum River valley
north of Courtenay. This population is the most northern limit of
Garry oak in North America and provides an example of a cultural
landscape that was likely managed through aboriginal burning.
Although many groups of large oaks still occur in the area, none
are recognised by the SEI inventory because their size is less than
the minimum mapping size of 0.5 hectare and because of the loss
of understorey species and other ecosystem attributes. This is not
to say, however, that these remnant stands are not worth protecting
as part of community and cultural values.
102 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Woodland Ecosystems
Why are they Important?
Ecological attributes and socio-economic values pertaining to
woodland ecosystems are listed below. Some of these are common
to most SEI ecosystems and are discussed in Chapter 2.
Ecological Attributes
Rarity—Woodlands are nationally, provincially and regionally
rare (see above) and highly fragmented (see also page 10).
High biodiversity—A rich assemblage of plants, insects,
reptiles, and birds are drawn to the habitat diversity and food
sources of woodland ecosystems. The frequent juxtaposition of
woodlands with terrestrial herbaceous and coastal bluff
ecosystems also increases species richness of these sites. Oak
woodlands support the highest plant species diversity of any
terrestrial ecosystem in coastal British Columbia.
The high biological diversity within oak and arbutus
woodlands is closely linked to elements of stand structure
including the open canopy, mixed age classes, snags, seasonal
leaf fall and organically enriched upper soil layers. Stand
openness in particular, allows a rich mosaic of native
wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs to thrive.
Woodlands are often associated with other vegetation
communities that are physically very different. Remnant
patches of older Douglas-fir forest, older second growth forest,
open meadows or rock outcrops commonly occur adjacent to
or inter-mixed with woodlands. The proximity of these varied
habitats contributes to high wildlife use and plant species
diversity. For wildlife such as hawks, this allows perching or
nesting sites in close proximity to hunting areas. Blacktailed
deer also use open woodlands for grazing in the early morning
or evening, and spend the middle of the day in denser forest.
Specialised habitats—The diverse physical structure of
woodland stands—snags, rotten limbs, downed logs and other
features more common in mature forests—exist alongside
young trees. These types of structural features increase the
range of habitat niches available to different species.
Woodlands are also patchy with gaps where rock knolls restrict
tree growth or Douglas-fir trees grow in pockets of deeper soil.
Even the bark of Garry oak provides habitat for insects,
spiders, mosses, and lichens.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 103
Woodland Ecosystems
Rare animals of Garry oak
woodlands
Species using these habitat niches in woodlands include rare
butterflies such as Edith’s checkerspot and Propertius
duskywings who rely on oak and meadow species as host
plants. Uncommon reptile species such as the northern
alligator lizard and the red-listed sharp-tailed snake77 use rock
outcrops for basking. Many oak woodlands occur in bedrock
dominated areas where fissures and folds in the rock collect
seepage flow.
Butterflies
Edith’s checkerspot, taylori
subspecies (R)
Bremner’s silverspot (R)
Propertius duskywing (B)
Moss’ elfin (B)
Peripheral populations—Woodlands in the SEI include
species whose northern populations occur on the Pacific coast,
contributing to their importance to biological diversity.
Peripheral populations are often genetically significant, and
adapted to conditions at the fringe for that species. Genetic
elasticity is a feature of fringe populations, which may make
them less vulnerable to climate change or other large-scale
disturbances.
Reptiles
Sharp-tailed snake (R,
COSEWIC-E)
Socio-economic Values
Green space—The diverse mix of species in woodland
ecosystems enhances the potential for human enjoyment and is
most evident in spring and summer when woodlands are
carpeted with a profusion of colourful wildflowers (see also
page 11).
High scenic values (see page 11)
A profusion of wildflowers
including blue camas, tall
camas, blue-eyed Mary,
spring-gold, satin-flower,
chocolate lily and
shooting star carpet oak
meadows in the spring.
Outdoor recreation—Woodlands in public parks and
accessible open spaces within urban communities provide
numerous opportunities for low-impact recreation. Passive
recreational activities that are appropriate within woodland
ecosystems include photography, painting or sketching, and
nature appreciation (see also page 11).
Research and nature education (see page 11)
Eco-tourism (see page 12)
Increased property values (see page 12)
Horticultural industry (see page 12)
77
Cannings et al. 1999.
104 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Woodland Ecosystems
Management
Recommendations
Historically, woodlands occurred as inter-connected patches across
the landscape: some small, some large. Both natural and human
influences have resulted in woodland fragmentation and lack of
connectivity in urban and rural areas. This has made them
vulnerable to invasive species colonisation and reduced use by
some wildlife species (see also page 20). Efforts should be made to
maintain ecological interconnections with the surrounding
landscape (coastal bluffs, terrestrial herbaceous and forested
ecosystems).
See Section Two for
further information
regarding planning and
stewardship tools for
conserving ecosystems.
Part of the ecological value of woodlands is the diversity of shrub,
herb, and moss species in the understorey. Protecting woodland
ecosystems therefore requires emphasis on shrub and understorey
layers, soil, and regenerating woodland tree species.
When developing a management plan for woodland ecosysems, it
is assumed that a local ecosystems plan and protection strategy
have been carried out (see pages 28 and 29). The following
recommendations will aid in the site management of woodland
ecosystems.
Delineate Buffers around Woodland
Ecosystems
Wherever possible, vegetated buffers should be delineated around
each woodland ecosystem as described in Chapter 4 (page 30). It is
very important to establish adequate buffers for woodland
ecosystems as they are particularly vulnerable to adjacent land
uses, for example, clearcutting adjacent land results in colonization
by agressive invasive alien plant species, which then spread into
the adjacent sensitive ecosystem. Buffers should be designed as
follows.
Forested buffers should have the least possible amount of edge
per unit area (i.e., should be as close to round as practical).
In some situations, the buffer should be of sufficient width to
minimise changes to microclimate (e.g., increased
temperature) on rare plant communities, and to reduce noise
and human disturbance on wildlife use.
Northern alligator lizard
(K. Taylor)
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 105
Woodland Ecosystems
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts
The open stand structure of woodlands and their proximity to
developed areas makes them particularly vulnerable to the
intrusion of non-native species and other impacts resulting from
increased access, livestock grazing, and changes to nearby surface
and groundwater regimes. Although off-site activities do not cause
loss of trees, plant communities, or wildlife directly, their effects
can be severe if careful planning and management is not
undertaken. For example, reductions in wildlife use can occur
because of the severing of wildlife corridors in the surrounding
landscape. The following actions will help minimise impacts to
woodland ecosystems.
Discourage development within or adjacent to woodland
ecosystems—(see page 31).
Restrict recreational trail access—Trail construction and use
can affect tree density, tree canopy, understorey vegetation,
soil, tree health, or stand age structure. Where trails are
allowed, see Develop Carefully below.
Moss’ elfin (B) (C. Guppy)
Restrict road access—Wherever possible, road access to
woodland parcels should be prevented. If road access is
absolutely necessary, a site inventory and access management
plan should be prepared to ensure that the impacts of increased
access and invasions of exotic species to the woodland parcel
are minimised (see Develop Carefully below).
Limit or prevent livestock grazing—Vegetation damage and
soil compaction results from moderate to heavy livestock
grazing which stimulates alien weed invasion and tramples
young woodland tree seedlings. Livestock grazing should be
avoided in woodland ecosystems. Where grazing does occur,
landowners should work with government agencies and
stewardship groups to assess the impacts and if necessary, use
protective measures such as fencing.
Prevent disturbance of nesting or breeding areas—(see also
page 23).
Control invasive species—Many introduced grasses and
shrubs are sun-loving plants that compete most effectively in
these open woodland areas. Snowberry, although a native
species, has invaded oak meadows and has resulted in the loss
of meadow plant species. European slugs browsing new
seedlings have also had a devastating impact on some native
plants (see also page 21).
106 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Woodland Ecosystems
Control the introduction or spread of invasive grass, shrub, and
forb species by designating a broad invasive species
management zone in and around the woodland ecosystem.
Special attention should be paid to corridors of disturbance
that act as vectors for invasion of woodlands.
Active control methods such as hand clearing, pruning, and
mowing, around woodlands are appropriate if timed to
minimise impacts to native forbs and grasses. Annual mowing
can favour native wildflowers by simulating burning of the
understorey, thus keeping down exotic and native shrubs. This
should be done after spring blooms die off and before asters
bloom.
Consider re-introducing fire—Managed fire can be used to
sustain woodland plant communities and reduce the prevalence
of non-native species. Natural fires cannot be allowed to burn
because of public safety concerns, property damage, air
quality, personnel and equipment requirements, and other
factors. Controlled prescribed-burns, however, are an important
management tool that can be used in some cases even in urban
areas to maintain or restore habitats and ecosystem processes,
control invasive plant species, and reduce the amount of
hazardous woody fuels that may built up in the ecosystem.
Prescribed-burns are now essential natural-area management
tools used safely in various types of ecosystems throughout
North America.
Non-native plants occurring
in Garry oak and arbutusDouglas-fir woodlands
Scotch broom
hairy vetch
ripgut brome
orchard grass
Kentucky bluegrass
hedgehog dogtail grass
Himalayan blackberry
English ivy
sweet vernal grass
common vetch
spurge-laurel
periwinkle
soft brome
Fire suppression and shrub
invasion will result in hotter
fires than would have
occurred historically.
Maintain hydrologic regime—Changes to the surface and
groundwater regime that nourishes nearby or even distant
woodland vegetation can be caused by the construction of
trails, development of roads and houses and other activities.
Despite the association with dry sites, woodland surface
drainage patterns are important for woodland diversity.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 107
Woodland Ecosystems
Develop Carefully
Where development is allowed in woodland ecosystems, the
general development guidelines described in Chapter 4 (page 32)
should be followed, namely:
Require an ecological inventory conducted by a qualified
professional.
Plan, design and implement all land development activities
(including recreational facilities such as trails and access
roads, and vegetation management such as danger tree removal
and appropriate park maintenance) in a manner that will
minimise impacts to:
The root systems of trees, tree density, tree canopy, tree
health, or stand age structure.
Shrub, herb, grass, moss, and lichen understorey species.
Cooper’s Hawk (BC Gov’t)
Standing dead and dying trees, fallen trees, snags and
downed logs, fallen limbs, leaf litter, and other natural
detritus.
Soil conditions.
Ground or surface water drainage regimes.
Nesting and denning sites—development activities should
be phased or timed to avoid the spring nesting and
breeding season for coastal wildlife.
Locate infrastructure away from these ecosystems and
their root masses. For example, generally staying back a
distance equal to the height of a tree from its base or 15
metres, whichever is greater, will achieve this.
Most native plant
associations in woodland
ecosystems could be
considered threatened or
endangered.
Protect any endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species
and natural plant communities (and uncommon plant
species) and habitat features associated with woodland
ecosystems identified during the planning and inventory
stages:
Patches of rare plants, nesting trees, snags, vernal pools, or
seepage areas that are nodes of biological diversity within
the woodland landscape.
Standing dead and dying trees, which should be retained,
and fallen trees, limbs, leaf litter and soil which should be
left in place to provide foraging opportunities and nesting
and denning sites.
Design and implement appropriate sediment and erosion
control measures.
108 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Woodland Ecosystems
Design trails based on the ecological inventory (see above):
Avoid the root zone of trees which is generally defined as
the drip line—trails located directly under trees can
compact the root zone and lead to deterioration in tree
health.
Trails should be placed to avoid any shallow subsurface
flows.
Trails should be well designed for the intended use and to
minimise erosion and seasonal flooding.
Trails should avoid areas of hazardous trees.
Barriers such as fences should be used where necessary, to
prevent recreationalists from leaving the trial in sensitive
areas.
For suggestions on how to incorporate the above
recommendations into Official Community Plans and
Development Permit Areas,
see Chapter 14
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 109
Woodland Ecosystems
Large fallen logs, large live trees and large standing
dead trees are characteristic features of older forests.
(Photo: Trudy Chatwin)
An average older Douglas-fir forest is relatively open
and dry with few woody shrubs, forbs, and grasses in
the understorey. (Photo:Trudy Chatwin)
Older coastal western hemlock forests are cooler and
wetter than coastal Douglas-fir forests, and have a
thick mat of needles, small branches and mosses on
the acidic forest floor. (Photo: Mark Kaarremaa)
Trails through older forests should be designed to
avoid damage to the root systems of trees, understorey
vegetation, and soil. (Photo: Neil K. Dawe)
110 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
11 Older Forest
What are Older Forest
Ecosystems?
O
lder Forest ecosystems (OF) are conifer-dominated forests
with an average tree age of 100 years or greater. This age
was selected because many of the structural features
associated with high biodiversity values in older forests—snags,
downed wood, coarse woody debris, and fully developed moss
layer—begin to develop after 80 years of growth. Two subcategories of older forest were recognised by the SEI: coniferous
stands with less than 15 percent deciduous trees; and mixed
coniferous-deciduous stands in which deciduous trees occupied
more than 15 percent of the canopy. Mixed forests are generally
more structurally diverse and more productive for wildlife species
than coniferous stands.
Older Forest vs. Old-growth
No commonly accepted
definition of ‘old-growth’
exists for BC’s forests.
Definitions often refer to a
lack of large-scale human
disturbance and a specific size
or age of trees. Because of the
relatively recent history of
logging in coastal B.C.,
forests older than 120 years
are almost exclusively
unlogged areas. 78
Historically, older coniferous forests were the dominant vegetation
community in south coastal British Columbia with Douglas-fir,
western hemlock, grand fir, and western redcedar the primary tree
species depending on site conditions. Douglas-fir is the dominant
tree on drier sites in much of the SEI study area. It lives up to over
one thousand years. It can regenerate under its own canopy in dry,
open stands or following fire. On sites with higher precipitation
and moister soil conditions, western hemlock or western redcedar
are more common. Large redcedar stumps are common in stream
corridors and moist ravines and provide evidence of the tree size
and historical occurrence of redcedar forests in riparian
ecosystems.
Older forests are biologically rich ecosystems that are distinct from
younger second growth forests in both stand structure and species
78
Bald Eagle (Y) (D. Gunn)
MacKinnon and Eng 1995.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 111
Older Forest Ecosystems
composition. They have three prominent characteristics: large live
trees, large standing dead trees, and large fallen trees.79 On some
sites, Douglas-fir or western redcedar may be greater than 1.5
metres in diameter and more than 55 metres tall. Snags, some as
tall as the forest canopy, are intermixed with live trees of varying
ages. Nurse logs, with rows of western hemlock seedlings
sprouting from a mat of mosses and lichens, lie along the forest
floor. Shrubs and Douglas-fir saplings grow dense and high where
fallen trees have resulted in forest canopy gaps.
Most of these structural features originate during natural
disturbance events such as fire, disease, or windthrow and can take
more than a century to develop in coastal forests. Natural
disturbance also affects vegetation composition.
Figure 2: Biogeoclimatic zones of the SEI study area
79
Maser 1997.
112 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Older Forest Ecosystems
Older forests encompass a broad range of plant communities that
reflect the influences of climate and site conditions such as soil
depth, moisture, and nutrient levels. The Biogeoclimatic
Ecosystem Classification (BEC) System80 provides a useful
framework by which to describe representative older forest plant
communities identified by the SEI. Two biogeoclimatic subzones
are represented in the SEI study area: the Coastal Douglas-fir,
moist maritime subzone (CDFmm) and the Coastal Western
Hemlock, very dry maritime subzone (CWHxm1) (see Figure 2).
See Volume 1, page 4, for
further discussion of
biogeoclimatic zones in SEI
study area.
Coastal Douglas-fir, moist maritime
subzone (CDFmm)
The CDFmm subzone occurs in the southeastern portion of the
study area, at elevations below 150 m above sea level, and covers
roughly 40% of the study area. Average, or ‘zonal’ sites in this
subzone are drier than those considered zonal for the CWHxm
subzone. Low soil moisture favours open stand structure and low
growth of woody shrubs and forbs and grasses in the understorey.
Leaves, twigs, and other organic materials decompose rapidly and
the dense litter and moss layer common in hemlock forests do not
develop.
Wetter sites in the CDFmm are also dominated by Douglas-fir but
may have more western redcedar and grand fir in the canopy.
Sword fern and three-leaved foamflower are more common
understorey plants in moist, rich sites. Drier sites are transitional
to Garry oak and arbutus/Douglas-fir woodlands. Drier coniferous
older forest is generally open with oceanspray, purple peavine,
grasses, and lilies.
Townsend’s Warbler
(M. Hames)
80
Developed by Krajina, 1965, the Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem
Classification System (BEC) provides the basis for forest classification
and management in British Columbia. It classifies areas of similar
regional climate, expected climax plant communities and site factors such
as soil moisture and soil nutrients. The subzone is the basic unit of this
classification system. The system is described in detail in a variety of
publications including Meidinger and Pojar 1991, and Green and Klinka
1994.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 113
Older Forest Ecosystems
Rare81 natural plant
communities in the
CDFmm
Douglas-fir/salal (R)
(Pseudotsuga
menziesii/Gaultheria
shallon)
grand fir/dull Oregon
grape (R) (Abies
grandis/Mahonia
nervosa)
grand fir/three-leaved
foamflower (R) (Abies
grandis/Tiarella
trifoliata)
western
redcedar/snowberry
(R) (Thuja
plicata/Symphoricarpo
s albus)
western redcedar/vanilla
leaf (R) (Thuja
plicata/Achlys
triphylla)
western redcedar/Indian
plum (R) (Thuja
plicata/Oemleria
cerasiformis)
western redcedar/Douglasfir/Oregon beaked
moss (R) (Thuja
plicata/Pseudotsuga
menziesii/Kindbergia
oregana)
Plants of older forest ecosystems in the CDFmm
Trees
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
western redcedar (Thuja plicata)
grand fir (Abies grandis)
western flowering dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)
arbutus (Arbutus menziesii)
western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), occasionally
Shrubs
salal (Gaultheria shallon)
dull Oregon grape (Mahonia nervosa), often dominant
oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)
baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa)
snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)
purple peavine (Lathrys nevadensis)
western trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa)
trailing blackberry (Rubus ursinus)
Herbs
vanilla leaf (Achlys triphylla)
sword fern (Polystichum munitum)
rattlesnake plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia)
Alaska oniongrass (Melica subulata)
fairy slipper (Calypso bulbosa)
three-leaved foamflower (Tiarella trifoliata)
Pacific sanicle (Sanicula crassicaulis)
Mosses
Ferns
electrified cat’s tail moss (Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus)
Oregon beaked moss (Kindbergia oregana)
step moss (Hylocomium splendens)
bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum)
Rare plants of older
forests in the CDFmm
Smith’s fairybells (B)
(Disporum smithii)
81
Provincially endangered or threatened (R-red-listed) or vulnerable (Bblue-listed) species as of May 2000 are noted; species ranked as
infrequent or uncommon (U) are noted in the table. Nationally rare
species ranked by COSEWIC, as of May 2000, are noted as endangered
(E), threatened (T) or of special concern (SC). See Glossary for further
discussion.
114 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Older Forest Ecosystems
Coastal Western Hemlock, very dry
maritime subzone (CWHxm1)
The CWHxm1 unit covers the northern portion of the study area and
higher elevations in the southern portion and comprises roughly 60%
of the study area. This zone is cooler and wetter than the CDF zone
and favours western hemlock as the dominant canopy tree on average
or zonal sites. Drier sites are still dominated by Douglas-fir.
The floor of older western hemlock forest is commonly a thick mat of
needles and small branches that has built up over time. The cool,
damp, and acidic forest floor promotes moss development and limits
the growth of some plants. Hemlock forests are self-sustaining. Unlike
Douglas-fir, which can only regenerate in forest openings that follow
disturbance or in very open stands, western hemlock is shade tolerant.
Seedlings of western hemlock are common even in the shadiest part of
the forest.
Pathfinder (Adenocaulon
bicolor) (E.J. Stephen)
Plants of older forest ecosystems in the CWHxm1
Trees
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)
western redcedar (Thuja plicata)
red alder (Alnus rubra)
Shrubs
salal (Gaultheria shallon)
red huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium)
dull Oregon grape (Mahonia nervosa)
baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa)
ocean-spray (Holdiscus discolor), occasionally
Herbs
vanilla-leaf (Achlys triphylla)
twinflower (Linnaea borealis)
Mosses
Ferns
step moss (Hylocomium splendens)
Oregon beaked moss (Kindbergia oregana)
lanky moss (Rhytiadelphus loreus)
sword fern (Polystichum munitum)
bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum)
Rare natural plant
communities in older
forests in the CWHxm1
Douglas-fir/sword fern (R)
(Pseudotsuga
menziesii/Polystichum
munitum)
Douglas-fir/western
hemlock/salal (B)
(Pseudotsuga
menziesii/Tsuga
heterophylla/Gaultheria
shallon)
western hemlock/western
redcedar/deer fern (B)
(Tsuga heterophylla/Thuja
plicata/Blechnum spicant)
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 115
Older Forest Ecosystems
Status
Older forest ecosystems occupy 2.6 % (10,605 hectares) of the
entire SEI study area (see Table 10), and account for the largest
areal extent of the seven sensitive ecosystems. Ninety-percent of
older forest stands are dominated by coniferous forest; the
remaining stands are mixed with big-leaf maple, arbutus, or Garry
oak that comprise more than 15 percent of canopy trees.
Proportion of SEI sub-units with
Older Forest Ecosystems
9.0%
mixed
8.0%
In general, older forests largely consist of numerous small
fragments scattered across the landscape with a median size of 6.4
hectares. Many remnant patches were not logged because of
difficult access or poorer tree growth than surrounding areas.
Through the whole study area, only 15 sites individually exceed
100 ha in size—most of these occur in the Capital Sub-unit and
include the largest sensitive ecosystem (1,200 ha) in the study
area; two are in the Nanaimo Sub-unit, and two in the Comox Subunit.
7.0%
6.0%
5.0%
4.0%
3.0%
2.0%
1.0%
Islands
Capital
Cowichan
Nanaimo
0.0%
Comox
Percentage of sub-unit land area
coniferous
Almost half of the total area of older forest is found in the Capital
Sub-unit. Many of these sites are protected under a variety of
tenures including Regional and Provincial Parks, on federal lands,
and within the Capital Regional District water supply area.
Much of the older forest outside of the CRD is privately owned,
either by forest companies or private landowners. Relatively little
of this older forest is protected in parks or ecological reserves. The
sub-units of Comox, Nanaimo, and most notably Cowichan have
poor representation of older forests. This may reflect the gentle
topography of these areas, which afforded good access by logging
railroads. In the Cowichan Sub-unit, the most productive area for
Douglas-fir, only 0.9% of the land area remains in older stands.
Table 10: Area (ha) of older forest ecosystems by sub-unit
SEI sub-unit
See Volume 1, section
4.2.8, page 66, for
further discussion of
inventory results relating
to older forest
ecosystems.
Comox
Nanaimo
Cowichan
Capital
Islands
Total
Coniferous
Mixed
Total
1058.2
1344.9
579.2
4925.8
2168.4
10076.5
58.8
118.4
150.5
106.0
94.9
528.6
1117.
1463.4
729.7
5031.9
2263.3
10605.1
116 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
No of
sites
81
77
83
104
125
470
Older Forest Ecosystems
SEI figures suggest that forests older than 100 years82 now account
for just under four percent of the area they occupied 150 years
ago.83
Table 11 : Area (ha) of older forest greater than 250 years.
SEI sub-unit
Comox
Nanaimo
Cowichan
Capital
Islands
Total
Area
135.3
135.2
21.0
98.7
542.2
932.4
No of sites
28
13
7
5
24
77
Northern Goshawk (R) (M. Hames)
Forests older than 250 years were not distinguished from other
older forests on the SEI maps. However, where available, this
information was recorded in the database and shows that only 77
(16%) of the 470 older forest sites were dominated by trees older
than 250 years (see Table 11); these sites represent less than 9%
of the area of older forest in the study area. The age of 12 of
these sites was verified either by groundtruthing or personal
knowledge, whereas the other 65 sites were identified through air
photo interpretation, forest cover or soils maps. Taken as a
general indication only, these figures indicate poor representation
of forests older than 250 years.
Other research shows that only 1,071 hectares of forest greater
than 250 years old is found in the entire Coastal Douglas-fir
zone.84 And of this remaining forest, only 150 hectares (14%) is
currently protected in designated parks.
82
Includes 10,605 ha of SEI older forest ecosystem and 1,610 ha of
mature and old growth riparian ecosystem (structural stages 6 and 7).
83
This is based on the assumption that coniferous forest once covered
about 80% of the landscape, or roughly 330,000 hectares of the SEI study
area.
84
MacKinnon and Vold 1998.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 117
Older Forest Ecosystems
Why are they Important?
Ecological attributes and socio-economic values pertaining to older
forest ecosystems are listed below. Some of these are common to
most SEI ecosystems and are discussed in Chapter 2.
Ecological Attributes
Rarity—As discussed above (page 117), older forests in the
SEI study area account for less than four percent of the area
they occupied only 150 years ago (see also page 10).
High biodiversity—Older forests generally support a rich
community of wildlife, plant, and invertebrate species.
Structural complexity and diversity provide the key to much of
the richness of organisms, habitat, and processes. Structural
diversity includes individual habitat features such as snags,
downed logs, and large trees, but also vertical and horizontal
structural attributes. Mixed age classes and a multilayered
canopy are typical, while patchiness of canopy gaps provides
variation in light levels on the forest floor.85 A number of
wildlife and plant species are dependent or associated with
specific habitat features only found in older forests.
Fungi, canopy insects, and lichens are examples of species
groups that account for a huge proportion of the biological
diversity of older forests. Mycorrhizal fungi live in the litter
and soil of the forest floor and contribute to the growth of trees
through interactions between tree roots and the soil.
Macrofungi, which includes mushrooms, toadstools, bracket
fungi, as well as less conspicuous species, are a poorly
documented component of biodiversity. Over 1,250
macrofungi species have been documented in British
Columbia, but this figure covers only a small percentage of the
species actually present.
Cup fungus (Cladonia)
(C. Tunnoch)
Similarly, little is known about the relative abundance,
diversity or structure and function of arthropods (spiders,
insects, mites, etc.), the most abundant animals in forest
habitats. In a recent Vancouver Island study, scientists found
that 75% of the 68 arthropod species encountered were
previously unknown to science.86 In addition, some lichens are
not found in coastal forests younger than 100 years, which
indicates that they are dependent or associated with habitat
conditions only found in older forests.
85
86
Franklin 1992.
Humble et al. 1997.
118 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Older Forest Ecosystems
High wildlife values— Older forests support wildlife species
that were once common throughout our landscape. Black bears,
bats such as the COSEWIC-SC and red-listed Keen’s long-eared
bat and the blue-listed Townsend’s big-eared bat,87 Pileated
Woodpeckers, Bald Eagles, and clouded salamanders are
examples of wildlife species that are more common in older
forests than in younger stands, or require older forests for
portions of their life cycles. Several red and blue-listed animal
species also make use of these ecosystems (see sidebar).88
Blacktailed deer and the Blue-listed Roosevelt elk89 use older
forests in winter to escape deep snows and eat lichens.
Rare animals of older forests
Keen’s long-eared bat (R,
COSEWIC-SC)
Townsend’s big-eared bat (B)
Northern Goshawk (R)
Western Screech-Owl (B)
Vancouver Island Pygmy-Owl
(B)
Hutton’s Vireo (B)
Roosevelt elk (B)
Specialised habitats—Species associated with older forests in
the SEI study area include the cavity nesting bats, owls, and
woodpeckers, as well as amphibians such as clouded
salamander. Snags, cavities, rotting logs on the forest floor,
thick bark, and large tree stubs all provide niches for many
species of wildlife. On the east coast of Vancouver Island, these
specialised habitats are found mainly in older forests.
Socio-economic Values
Spiritual value— Older forests, and in particular old-growth
forests, have intrinsic values that, to many of us, cannot be
measured solely in economic terms (see sidebar).
Research and nature education—Considerable research has
focused on the ecology of older forests in coastal British
Columbia. Older forests provide models of succession and
disturbance that are important for the management of secondgrowth forest. Research on wildlife species, plant communities,
and invertebrate diversity in forest canopies is used to census
biodiversity in coastal forests. Older forests may also contain
genetic resources in the form of local tree adaptations that can
be used to improve tree growth or sustain silviculture in British
Columbia. Some older forests are used as seed sources to
improve the genetics of nursery grown seedlings (see also
page 11).
Outdoor Recreation (see page 11)
When we talk about oldgrowth forests, we don’t
simply mean old trees. We
mean tall, stately trees, or
proud, scarred veterans. We
mean intricate ecosystems that
provide for, and protect, elk
and black bears, bald eagles
and ever-flowing salmon
streams. We mean the colour
green in infinite variety. We
mean soft spongy humus and
head-high salal. We mean
carpets of moss. We mean the
profound sense of inner peace
as we walk the floor of
nature’s cathedrals and stare
up in silence at such
handiwork.
Eco-tourism (see page 12)
Forestry—Forestry activity does not necessarily have to conflict
with the conservation of older forests. Indeed, most of the older
forests identified by the SEI have had some forestry activity
87
88
89
—Cameron Young
Cannings et al. 1999.
Fraser et al. 1999.
Cannings et al. 1999
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 119
Older Forest Ecosystems
Eco-forestry
Merv Wilkinson’s 55-hectare
‘Wildwood’ near Ladysmith is
an excellent example of
selective, sustainable logging.
His forest has been cut 9 times
over the past 45 years, and this
multi-aged stand is still
producing high-quality forest
products.
such as selective logging occur within them. Small scale
forestry operations are able to remove trees on a sustainable
basis using alternative harvesting and silviculture techniques
(see sidebar). Many older forests in the SEI are on relatively
shallow soils with low moisture levels that are suitable for
alternative logging methods such as small towers or horse
logging. Uneven aged stand management has the potential to
provide economic benefits and conserve ecological values of
older forests.
Other forest products—A broad range of forest products
including wild mushrooms (e.g., pine mushrooms, chantrelles,
boletes), floral material (e.g., salal), wildberries, and medicinal
products such as Western yew bark and devil’s club are
harvested from older forests. In 1993, 7,300 kg of pine
mushrooms were harvested in Vancouver Island forests, many
of them within the SEI study area. The total value was
approximately $230,000. Although pine mushrooms are not
confined to older forests, dry Douglas-fir dominated areas are
the primary area for pine mushroom growth.
Management
Recommendations
Unlike the high profile conservation issues in Clayoquot Sound
and other areas on the west coast of Vancouver Island, the
conservation of remnant older forest in the SEI study area focuses
on preventing further fragmentation, ecosystem loss, and
incremental degradation.
Forest fragments, not
watersheds, are the unit of
conservation on eastern
Vancouver Island and the Gulf
Islands.
Opportunities to protect large areas of contiguous or connected
older forest were lost 50 to 75 years ago. Many older forests are
highly fragmented by roads, logging, and urban development (see
also page 20). None are completely free of human disturbance.
Most SEI older forests are less than 10 hectares, which reduces
their ability to support some species. Black bears, cougars, and
Roosevelt elk will not survive in small, isolated patches of older
forests, no matter how well protected.
More detail on specific tools for
protecting or maintaining older
forests are presented in Section
Two.
Conservation efforts should focus on maintaining the largest
possible contiguous patches of older forest, as well as retaining
interior forest conditions, wildlife and plant species movement.
Patches of forest, rather than isolated trees should be retained in
urban and rural settings.
120 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Older Forest Ecosystems
When developing a management plan for older forest ecosysems, it
is assumed that a local ecosystems plan and protection strategy
have been carried out (see pages 28 and 29). The following
recommendations will aid in the site management of older forest
ecosystems.
Delineate Buffers around Older Forest
Ecosystems
Wherever possible, vegetated buffers should be delineated around
each older forest ecosystem as described in Chapter 4 (page 30). In
older forest ecosystems, buffers need to be large enough to protect
from edge effects, such as increased light and temperature and
decreased moisture, noise and windthrow. Windthrow and changes
to light levels and humidity are acute around linear corridors such
as roads and powerlines (see also page 22).
Great Blue Heron (B) (L. Friis)
Treed buffers should have the least possible amount of edge
per unit area (i.e., should be as close to round as practical).
The windward edge should be smooth and located in areas of
deep soils and well rooted trees.
Edge stabilisation treatments including feathering, sail
pruning, topping, and removal of unsound trees should be used
in the buffer to ensure a windfirm edge around tree retention
areas thus protecting the core ecosystem.
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts
Most of the structural features that contribute to the ecological
value of older forests originate during disturbance events. One of
the indirect impacts of development adjacent to older forests is the
loss of wildfire or other disturbances that contribute to the creation
of structural diversity. In addition, snags and falling limbs are
usually removed next to roads, buildings, and trails because of
safety concerns. The following actions will help minimise impacts
to relatively undisturbed older forest ecosystems.
Discourage development within or adjacent to older forest
ecosystems
Manage access—Use barriers such as fences to prevent
vehicular or livestock access, where necessary; where trails are
allowed, see Develop Carefully below.
Prevent disturbance of nesting or breeding areas—see also
page 23)
Control invasive species–Fragmentation of older forests
encourages the introduction of pest or invasive species such as
spurge-laurel, English ivy, common laurel, introduced grasses
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 121
Older Forest Ecosystems
and English holly; livestock grazing also stimulates alien weed
invasion. Use active control methods such as hand clearing,
pruning, mowing, excavation, and planting of appropriate
native species (see also pages 21 and 30).
Allow succession and natural disturbance to occur—
Regardless of aesthetic concerns, allow natural windthrow, tree
death, disease, or other processes linked to competition and
succession to occur.
Develop Carefully
Where development is allowed in older forest ecosystems, the
general development guidelines described in Chapter 4 (page 32)
should be followed, namely:
Northern Saw-whet Owl
(M. Hames)
Require an ecological inventory conducted by a qualified
professional.
Plan, design and implement all land development activities
(including recreational facilities such as trails and access
roads, and vegetation management such as danger tree removal
and appropriate park maintenance) in a manner that will
minimise impacts to the core older forest ecosystem.
Protect trees, understorey plants, snags, and downed logs,
as well as ecosystem processes that influence vegetation
composition and structure (i.e., competition, disturbance,
regeneration).
Locate the development footprint away from existing
trees—cluster housing can work in many situations to
avoid stands of older forest; or utilise already-disturbed
patches where available.
Locate infrastructure to avoid trees and their root masses,
generally keeping away a distance equal to the height of a
tree from its base or 15 metres, whichever is greater.
Where linear corridors are unavoidable, they should be
narrow (less than 20 m wide) and configured to provide
wildlife crossings.
Incorporate landscape designs that respect the natural
system. Where the loss of mature trees is unavoidable,
replace trees with native tree species. Preference should be
given to plants salvaged from the land-clearing footprint
and transplanted to other sites.
Design trails carefully—Trail construction for passive
recreational purposes (e.g., walking, jogging, hiking) may be
permitted if the trail does not affect the root systems of trees,
understorey vegetation, or soil. This may be achieved by
122 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Older Forest Ecosystems
locating the trails in areas of minimum disturbance to the
wildlife using the site, as determined by the ecological
inventory. Clearly delineate sensitive areas prior to and during
construction and consider the following planning, design, and
management guidelines.
Avoid the root zone of trees, which is generally defined as
the drip line. Avoid any shallow subsurface flows.
Design trails to encourage foot traffic and discourage other
types of use (horseback riding, motorised vehicles,
mountain bikes).
Avoid areas with hazardous trees, wherever possible.
Use barriers such as fences to prevent vehicular or
livestock access, where necessary.
Protect endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species and
habitat features that were identified during the planning and
inventory stages such as:
Patches of rare plants and natural plant communities,
nesting trees, rock outcrops, vernal pools, or seepage areas
that are nodes of high biological diversity within the older
forest.
Standing dead and dying trees, such as snags and stubs,
which should be retained and fallen trees, limbs, leaf litter
and soil should be left in place to provide foraging
opportunities and nesting and denning sites.
Danger trees, which should be allowed to remain standing
but topped as high as is possible without posing risk to
human safety should they fall. Felled trees should be left
on the ground. If unavoidable, removal of hazard trees
should be conducted in a manner that considers the
protection of the surrounding flora, with due regard to
timing so as to minimise disturbance to the native fauna.
Prevent disturbance of nesting and breeding areas. Land
disturbance activities should be phased or timed to avoid the
breeding season for coastal wildlife; this may range from late
March through mid-August depending on the species.
Protect nesting and denning sites that were identified during
the planning and inventory stages including:
Black bear dens, eagle nest or perch trees, owl roost sites,
and woodpecker cavities—examples of specific habitat
features that may occur in older forests. Eagle trees in
particular are associated with older forests because of the
prevalence of large live trees or snags that rise above the
general forest canopy.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 123
Older Forest Ecosystems
Buffers may need to be extended or recreational trails
relocated to minimise disturbance to these sites.
Design and implement appropriate sediment and erosion
control measures.
For suggestions on how to incorporate the above
recommendations into Official Community Plans and
Development Permit Areas,
see Chapter 14
124 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Older Second Growth Forest Ecosystems
In older second growth forests, stumps, burned snags, remnant (veteran) trees and other
structural elements from the original forest, are nodes of higher biological diversity until
the forest ages. (Photo: Neil K. Dawe)
Older second growth forests play a central role in connecting habitat patches. For
example, northwestern salamanders use these forests for a large portion of their life
cycles, but also require access to other habitat patches for feeding, breeding, or
migration. (Photo:SEI)
126 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
12 Older Second Growth Forest
What are Older Second
Growth Forest
Ecosystems?
O
lder second growth forests (SG) are coniferous dominated
stands with an average tree age between 60 and 100 years.
Two sub-categories of older second growth forest were
recognised by the SEI: coniferous stands with less than 15%
deciduous trees (SG:co); and mixed coniferous-deciduous stands in
which deciduous trees occupied more than 15% of the canopy
(SG:mx). Stands greater than approximately 25 hectares were
mapped.90 The large size is an important component of the
biological diversity of these forests and focuses attention on the
stands that provide landscape level connectivity and also support
species with larger home ranges. The field of conservation biology
recognises that larger forest patches generally support more species
than smaller forest patches.
Older second growth forests and seasonally flooded agricultural
fields are the two other important ecosystems recognised by the SEI
because of their biodiversity values. They do not constitute
sensitive ecosystems because of their widespread distribution and
history of recent human disturbance. All older second growth forests
have been disturbed by logging or other human activity since
Older Second Growth Forest
vs.
Older Forest
Some older second growth
forests are difficult to
distinguish from older forests
because they may have many
of the same structural
features. Some of these
features begin to develop in
stands as young as forty
years, however, large snags
and downed logs only occur
after 80 to 100 years of
growth.
Generally, older second
growth forests can be
differentiated from older
forests by the presence of
large stumps, which testify to
the size of old-growth trees
before logging, and the lack of
snags and other structural
elements.
90
The original minimum size targeted was 100 hectares. This was changed
to 25 hectares during the inventory when it was realized that some
significant older second growth stands, particularly on some of the smaller
Gulf Islands, could not be included using the 100 hectare minimum (see
Volume 1, Section 2.3.2 for further discussion).
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 127
Older Second Growth Forest Ecosystems
European settlement of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands
began in the middle of the 19th century.
The broad variation in stand age, polygon size, vegetation
composition, and other attributes makes it difficult to describe
characteristic vegetation or wildlife use in older second growth
forests. Some stands are patchy, whereas others are strikingly
uniform in age and height.
Red squirrel
(L. Friis)
Rare plants of older
second growth forests
Phantom orchid
(R, COSEWIC-T),
(Cephalanthera austinae)
Most coniferous second growth forests are dominated by Douglasfir or western hemlock, with western redcedar stands on wet sites.
Grand fir is less common. Younger forests in this category are
characterised by dense, uniform stands of even-aged Douglas-fir
and cedar or western hemlock, and lack a well-developed
understorey because of lack of sunlight. Low growth of sword fern
or salal and dull Oregon grape may predominate and some sites
support only moss. Stands greater than 80 years typically support
more species than younger stands. Some lichen and invertebrate
species may not occur until stand age is greater than 80 years
because specific habitat features like large moss covered limbs are
not present.
Mixed older second growth forest occurs both on moist sites where
red alder, big-leaf maple, black cottonwood or bitter cherry is
mixed with Douglas-fir, cedar, or hemlock, or dry sites with fir
mixed with arbutus or Garry oak. Soil disturbance during logging
often results in dense establishment of red alder or maple
seedlings. Mixed older second growth forests are generally more
structurally diverse and more productive for wildlife species than
coniferous stands. The more open canopy contributes to
understorey diversity. Greater tree species diversity also makes a
multi-layered canopy. Furthermore, snags and downed logs are
generated sooner in mixed forests because of the shorter life span
of red alder and big-leaf maple. Red alder stands begin to senesce
after 50 to 80 years, which often coincides with an increase in the
dominance of conifers that have regenerated below the alder
canopy. The deciduous component may be evenly distributed or
patchy.91
91
Provincially endangered or threatened (R-red-listed) or vulnerable (Bblue-listed) species as of May 2000 are noted in sidebar above. Nationally
rare species ranked by COSEWIC, as of May 2000, are also noted as
endangered (E), threatened (T) or of special concern (SC). See Glossary
for further discussion.
128 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Older Second Growth Forest Ecosystems
Status
Older second growth forests are the most common forested
ecosystems on the east coast of Vancouver Island and the Gulf
Islands. Almost 11 percent (44,890 hectares or 449 square
kilometres) of the SEI study area was identified as older second
growth forest (see Table 12). This is more than four times the
amount of older forest identified (see Table 3, page 16). The
relatively large extent of this category is a reflection of extensive
logging in the past and the large proportion of the SEI that is
privately owned forestland. Because only patches of forest greater
than approximately 25 hectares were mapped, these figures likely
underestimate the extent of older second growth forest in the study
area. The median size of older second growth forests mapped was
32 hectares. Although many stands were below the 25 ha
minimum, they were mapped because they were part of an
ecosystem complex and provided a buffer to adjacent sensitive
ecosystems.
Comparisons between the different sub-units of the SEI study area
are difficult to make, as the older second growth forest polygons
were not consistently mapped using the same criteria.92 However,
it can be noted that the distribution of older second growth forest is
widespread in the five sub-units of the SEI; only the Cowichan
Sub-unit contained less than 10 percent cover of older second
growth forest. Mixed forests accounted for approximately half of
this ecosystem type in both the Cowichan and Islands sub-units.
Other sub-units contained smaller proportions of mixed forest (see
bar chart).
Table 12: Area (ha) of older second growth forest by sub-unit
SEI sub-unit
Comox
Nanaimo
Cowichan
Capital
Islands
Total
Coniferous
5661.3
4304.6
1595.7
9897.5
7415.7
28874.7
Mixed
2932.9
3423.9
1698.5
857.3
7103.3
16015.9
Total
8594.2
7728.5
3294.1
10754.8
14519.0
44890.6
See Volume 1, section 4.2.9,
page 68, for further discussion
of inventory results relating to
older second growth forest
ecosystems.
About half of the mapped older second growth forest areas occurred
in combination with other ecosystem types, mainly older forest and
terrestrial herbaceous units.
92
See note on page 127.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 129
Older Second Growth Forest Ecosystems
Why are they Important?
Ecological attributes and socio-economic values pertaining to older
second growth forest ecosystems are listed below. Some of these are
common to other SEI ecosystems and are discussed in Chapter 2.
Ecological Attributes
Biodiversity—Older second growth forest can support a broad range
of forest-dependent wildlife species depending on stand size,
vegetation structure and connectivity. Plant species diversity is
generally lower in coniferous stands compared to mixed stands, but
increases with age and stand heterogeneity.
Although wildlife values are generally lower in the younger, more
uniform coniferous stands, stumps, burned snags, remnant (veteran)
trees and other remnant structural elements from the previous forest,
are nodes of higher diversity. Small mammals such as bats, shrews,
and voles, depend on these features for habitat until the second
growth forest ages. Wildlife diversity is higher in mixed stands with
red alder or big-leaf maple or in older stands with some of the
characteristics of older forests.
Mountain sweetcicely (Osmorhiza
berteroi) (D. Gunn)
Biologically, the richest older second growth forests contain
deciduous and coniferous trees, are large polygons or are connected
to other natural ecosystems, and are over 80 years old. The presence
of snags and downed logs in particular, is closely associated with
wildlife species such as small mammals and cavity nesting birds
such as woodpeckers. Species that require large home ranges (e.g.,
black bears) may rely on the relatively large size of some older
second growth forest polygons.
Furthermore, populations in large connected patches are more
capable of surviving large scale disturbance events (e.g., fire,
drought, blowdown) because the population is larger and spread
between different areas.
Landscape connectivity—As the most common forested ecosystem
in the study area, older second growth forests play a central role in
connecting habitat patches. Species as varied as blacktailed deer,
black bears and northwestern salamanders use older second growth
forests for a large portion of their life cycles, but also require access
to other habitat patches for feeding, breeding, or migration. Wildlife
populations in remnant ecosystems adjacent to large patches of older
second growth forest may be maintained by frequent immigration
from the forest patch. As well, smaller patches may be recognised
130 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Older Second Growth Forest Ecosystems
following disturbance events by individuals that survived in the
larger and more stable older second growth forest (see also
page 20).
Buffers—Older second growth forests make ideal buffers,
because of their broader distribution. Where they border or
surround wetlands, patches of older forest or other sensitive
ecosystems, older second growth areas serve an important role
in minimising disturbance to the adjacent sensitive areas.
Future older forests—Within 20 - 30 years, many of the older
second growth forests that were logged in the early 1900s will
become older forests. Disturbance and competition will
increase the number of structural forest features such as snags
and downed logs, and wildlife species associated with older
forest will increase. The biodiversity values of older second
growth forests generally become higher with age.
Socio-economic Values
Forestry—More than any other area of coastal B.C., forestry
on the east coast of Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands
depends on older second growth forest for its timber supply.
The logs carried on any logging truck on the Island Highway
today are most likely to be Douglas-fir, cedar, or hemlock
between 60 and 100 years old.
Logging began in the 1880s on Vancouver Island. Logging
railroads and A-frames from the water, allowed rapid logging of
the productive and gentle terrain of the east side of Vancouver
Island. Those forests logged before 1900 are now mature
second growth forest. Many sites in the SEI study areas are
very productive and a 75 year old Douglas-fir could be almost
40 metres tall and one metre in diameter. Current forestry is
concentrated on low elevation second growth stands in the
Comox, Islands, and Nanaimo sub-units.
Other forest products—Like older forests, older second
growth forests provide a broad range of forest products other
than timber. Wild mushrooms (e.g., pine mushrooms,
chanterelles, boletes), salal for floral material, wildberries such
as huckleberries, and medicinal products such as Devil’s club
are harvested from older second growth forests. Many of these
products can be harvested sustainably, and their importance to
local economies is expected to grow in the next decade.
Green space—Although much of this report focuses on the
importance of ecosystems that are limited in occurrence or
sensitive because of ecosystem loss, second growth forest forms
the primary network of green space in the region. It surrounds
Morel (C. Tunnoch)
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 131
Older Second Growth Forest Ecosystems
many of the towns and cities and dominates the lower slopes
of the Insular Mountains that divide the east and west coasts of
Vancouver Island. Most provincial or regional parks contain
large areas of second growth forests. In urban areas, where
older second growth forests account for a large proportion of
the remnant natural areas, they often link parks.
Management
Recommendations
Management goals for older
second growth forest
ecosystems:
Maintain the resource use
values of older second growth
forests while minimising the
loss of ecosystem functions.
Conservation priority should
be given to older second
growth forests surrounding or
adjacent to sensitive
ecosystems.
Compared to the recommendations for the seven sensitive
ecosystem types (Chapters 5-11), the emphasis on the two other
important ecosystems—older second growth forest and
seasonally flooded agricultural fields—is less on protection and
more on recommending careful management by landowners,
local and senior governments and others in order to increase
or maintain biodiversity values, while having the ecosystems
provide goods and services for humans.
Where possible, local governments and landowners should
encourage the concepts of ecosystem management93 be applied to
older second growth forest ecosystems. Rather than managing for
specific goods or services, the ecosystem is managed for the
structures and processes that are necessary to deliver the goods and
services, with sustainability as a precondition.
In many cases, older second growth forest ecosystems will serve as
important buffers to adjacent sensitive ecosystems. Where they
occur in isolation from other ecosystems, efforts should be made to
retain the largest patches possible. Larger older second growth
areas are the best candidates for long-term protection because there
is larger area of interior habitat. Larger habitat patches support
more species and larger populations than smaller ones and protect
species with large home ranges. Smaller populations are more
prone to extirpation caused by predation, or other factors. Large
habitat patches with more robust populations can serve as a source
to repopulate smaller patches in highly fragmented landscapes.
When developing a management plan for older second growth
forest ecosysems, it is assumed that a local ecosystems plan and
protection strategy have been carried out (see pages 28 and 29).
The following recommendations will aid in the site management of
older second growth forest ecosystems.
93
Christensen et al. 1996.
132 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Older Second Growth Forest Ecosystems
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts
The following actions will minimise impacts to older second
growth forest ecosystems.
Discourage development within or adjacent to older second
growth forest ecosystems which can result in increased
predation or disturbance of bird, small mammal, and reptile
species by domestic cats and the introduction of invasive
species.
Minimise edge effects—Even changes to wind severity and
light levels can cause damage to trees or understorey species
(see also page 22).
Patches of forest, rather than the retention of isolated trees,
is the preferred option in isolated urban settings.
Deer Mouse (L. Friis)
Treed areas should have the least possible amount of edge
per unit area (i.e., should be as close to round as practical).
The windward edge should be smooth and in areas of deep
soils and well rooted trees.
Edge stabilisation treatments including feathering, sail
pruning, topping, and removal of unsound trees should be
used to ensure a windfirm edge.
Manage recreational and livestock access to avoid damage
to vegetation, soils and wildlife.
Prevent disturbance of nesting or breeding areas (see page
23).
Control the introduction or spread of invasive plant
species—A broad invasive species management zone can be
designated and active control methods used, such as hand
clearing, pruning, mowing, and excavation. Species of concern
from nearby gardens or landscaped areas include spurge-laurel,
English ivy, Himalayan blackberry, Scotch broom and English
holly (see also pages 21 and 30).
Allow natural disturbances and successional functions and
processes to occur (see page 31).
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 133
Older Second Growth Forest Ecosystems
Develop Carefully
Where development is allowed in older second growth forest
ecosystems, the general development guidelines described in
Chapter 4 (page 32) should be followed, including:
Require an ecological inventory conducted by a qualified
professional.
Plan, design and implement all land development activities,
including recreational facilities such as trails and access roads,
in a manner that will minimise impacts to the older second
growth forest ecosystem.
Locate developments away from sensitive areas such as
groups of snags or large live trees, areas of significantly wetter
or drier soils, small populations of locally rare plants, or
riparian areas as determined by the ecological inventory. This
may be achieved by considering the following:
Cluster housing can work in many situations to avoid
important stands of trees.
Roads and clearcuts should be located within existing
disturbed areas to minimise fragmentation.
Infrastructure should avoid trees and their root masses that
are to be conserved. Generally, staying back the distance
equal to the height of a tree from its base or 15 metres,
whichever is greater, will achieve this.
Schedule land disturbance activities to avoid the spring
nesting and breeding season for coastal wildlife.94
Protect endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species and
habitat features identified during the planning and
inventory stages:
Patches of rare plants, nesting trees, snags, vernal pools, or
seepage areas that are nodes of biological diversity within
the forest landscape.
Standing dead and dying trees that should be retained, and
fallen trees, limbs, leaf litter and soil that should be left in
place to provide foraging opportunities and nesting and
denning sites.
Removal of hazard trees should be conducted in a manner
that considers both the protection of the surrounding flora
and reasonable costs, and with due regard to timing to
minimise disturbance to native fauna. Danger trees should
94
Contact resource agencies for further information (see Appendix B).
134 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Older Second Growth Forest Ecosystems
be allowed to remain standing but topped as high as is
possible without posing risk to human safety should they
fall. Felled trees should be left on the ground.
Design and implement appropriate sediment and erosion
control measures.
Allow succession and natural disturbance to occur,
regardless of aesthetic concerns, namely, natural windthrow, tree
death, disease, or other processes linked to competition and
succession. Many of these processes are the building blocks of
biologically and structurally diverse forests. Older second
growth forests will be older forests in 10 to 40 years.
Brown Creeper
(M. Hames)
For suggestions on how to incorporate the above
recommendations into Official Community Plans and
Development Permit Areas,
see Chapter 14
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 135
Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field Ecosystems
With the historical loss of natural wetland ecosystems, seasonally flooded agricultural field ecosystems
are playing an increasingly important role by providing surrogate wetland habitat for wildlife,
especially waterfowl. (Photo: Mark Kaarremaa)
136 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
13 Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field
What are Seasonally
Flooded Agricultural Field
Ecosystems?
S
easonally flooded agricultural fields (FS) are lands that have
been modified for agricultural use but have important wildlife
habitat values for many species of waterfowl, shorebirds and
birds of prey during specific times of the year. These fields are
located primarily in low-lying areas that are often associated with,
and form complexes with wetlands such as freshwater and estuarine
marshes, swamps, and wet meadows. In such cases, other
environmental factors such as poor drainage, or a high water table
contribute to flooding during the autumn and winter rainy season.
Where the fields are located next to riparian ecosystems, flooding
can also occur during peak river discharge periods, or raised lake
levels. In these cases, the flooding season can be extended into
spring and early summer.
Seasonally flooded agricultural fields are predominantly in private
ownership and are managed primarily for agriculture. Agricultural
uses vary from farm to farm, but can include dairy pasture, hay
meadows, and cultivated fields (corn, flower bulbs, and various
vegetable crops). Following harvest, topography and weather
contribute to flooding of the fields, creating an ideal mixture of
shallow water, stubble, waste grain and produce, weed seeds, and
invertebrates, all of which attract wintering waterfowl. Changes in
agricultural use or abandonment may alter the habitat potential, and
ultimately the species mix attracted to these fields.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 137
Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field
Beyond the areas of active farming, seasonally flooded fields can
include remnant patches of wetland ecosystems and the occasional
small pond. Where the fields border riparian ecosystems, the field
edges are often allowed to form a scrub-shrub zone that provides a
transition to the riparian ecosystem. Typical native species of this
transition zone include: salmonberry, red-osier dogwood, willow
species, hardhack, red elderberry, thimbleberry, Pacific crab apple,
Pacific ninebark, and Nootka rose. Along with the native shrubs can
be a wide range of agronomic weeds and other opportunistic species
that are tolerant of fluctuating water levels: timothy, fescues, reed
canary grass, orchard grass and giant knotweed.
Status
Seasonally flooded agricultural fields are widespread, but generally
uncommon in the SEI study area. They occur on valley bottoms that
are prone to flooding and on former wetlands that have been dyked
and drained. In the Nanaimo, Cowichan and Comox sub-units,
many seasonally flooded agricultural field ecosystems are
associated with the floodplains and deltas of large, alluvial rivers
and creeks such as the Chemainus, Puntledge, Nanaimo, Cowichan,
Little Qualicum, French, Courtenay, and Millstone. Conversion to
other land uses has been slower in these places than in the Capital
Sub-unit, hence their greater areal extent.
Proportion of SEI sub-units with Seasonally
Flooded Agricultural Field Ecosystems
1.2%
0.8%
0.6%
0.4%
0.2%
Islands
Capital
Cowichan
Nanaimo
0.0%
Comox
Percentage of sub-unit land area
1.0%
In the Comox Sub-unit a small number of large fields accounted for
most of the land occupied by this ecosystem type (see Table 13).
The Nanaimo and Cowichan sub-units also contained a large
percentage of the total land occupied by this ecosystem. However,
the total area values were comprised of a large number of smaller
fields, which may indicate the greater extent of farmland
fragmentation, smaller field systems, or the occurrence of more
wetlands or creek, stream and river systems prone to flooding.
Table 13: Area (ha) of seasonally flooded agricultural fields by sub-unit
See Volume 1, section
4.2.10, page 68, for further
discussion of inventory
results relating to
seasonally flooded
agricultural field
ecosystems
SEI sub-unit
Comox
Nanaimo
Cowichan
Capital
Islands
Total
Seasonally Flooded
Agricultural Field
491.4
956.8
772.5
325.3
232.9
2778.9
138 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
No of sites
12
101
83
26
52
274
Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field
In the Capital Sub-unit, many small seasonally flooded agricultural
fields are found on moisture-receiving sites on the Saanich
Peninsula, such as the farming areas around Martindale Flats and
Island View Beach. Occasionally, the fields are associated with
wetland complexes such as those found around Swan Lake and
Fizzle Lake. In the Islands Sub-unit, small seasonally flooded
agricultural fields are found on moisture-receiving sites, usually in
association with lake shores, or lowlands adjacent to coastal bays.
The lesser areal extent of seasonally flooded agricultural field
ecosystems in the Islands and Capital sub-units can be attributed to
the absence of relatively large rivers and their floodplains, to
differences in topography and geology that are not conducive to
agriculture, and to the loss of agricultural fields due to urban
expansion and changing land uses.
Why are they Important?
Ecological Attributes
High wildlife use—The SEI area is located on the Pacific
Flyway, which is a migratory path for bird species travelling
between their southern wintering areas and their northern
breeding grounds. Favourable climatic conditions and available
habitat make the SEI area an important wintering area for
many species of waterbirds. Wetlands such as swamps,
freshwater and estuarine marshes, and riparian areas such as
river deltas and sloughs are examples of the natural wintering
habitats available for waterfowl and other birds.
These natural habitats are supplemented by seasonally flooded
agricultural fields, which add to the total amount of wintering
habitat area available. Over the past century, natural wetland
destruction has occurred to the extent that artificial wetlands
such as seasonally flooded fields have become increasingly
important because of their wildlife habitat qualities. These
lands can support high numbers of different bird species for
the areas they occupy, depending on the previous season’s
agricultural use and the weather.
Throughout the year, the number of bird species in agricultural
areas containing seasonally flooded fields is higher than in
Some birds of seasonally
flooded agricultural fields95
Waterfowl
Canada Goose
Greater White-fronted Goose
Trumpeter Swan (B)
Tundra Swan (Y)
Gadwall
Eurasian Wigeon
American Wigeon
Mallard
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Shorebirds
Killdeer
Common Snipe
Dunlin
Black-bellied Plover
Dowitcher
Great Blue Heron (B,
COSEWIC-SC)
Birds of Prey
Bald Eagle (Y)
Gyrfalcon (B)
Red-tailed Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk
‘Anatum’ Peregrine Falcon (R,
COSEWIC-T)
Merlin
American Kestrel
Short-eared Owl (B,
COSEWIC-SC)
Long-eared Owl
Snowy Owl (Y)
95
Provincially endangered or threatened (R-red-listed) or vulnerable
(B-blue-listed) species as of May 2000 are noted; species ranked as
infrequent or uncommon (U) are noted in the table. Nationally rare
species ranked by COSEWIC, as of May 2000, are noted as endangered
(E), threatened (T) or of special concern (SC). See Glossary for further
discussion.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 139
Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field
Fields in the Somenos
Marsh area near Duncan
receive more summer use
by songbirds because of
their linkage to other
habitats.
By comparison, the
Martindale Flats in
Saanich lack substantial
adjacent woodlands that
provide the necessary
habitat for nesting
songbirds during the
spring and summer
months, and bird activity
is subsequently low
during these months.
other altered land use areas. With winter flooding, fields in the SEI
study area provide valuable habitat for many bird species. Waterfowl
depend on the varied diet available in seasonally flooded fields
during the winter, and many species can be frequently seen foraging
(see sidebar). Shorebirds often use seasonally flooded fields and the
concentration of waterfowl and shorebirds attracts hawks and other
birds of prey. Suitable grassy edge and ditch habitats attract Shorteared, Long-eared, and Snowy owls, Northern Harriers, Western
Meadowlarks, and Northern Shrikes.
During spring migration, still-wet fields can attract open-field
species such as swallows and Band-tailed Pigeons. If ponds and
ditches are part of this habitat, or the late winter freshet extends the
flooding period, various ducks and geese remain near the fields,
occasionally nesting near permanent water. The fields also supply
seeds, invertebrates and other nutrients that increase egg-laying
capacity and provide calcium necessary for strong eggshells.
During the summer breeding season, fields are under intensive
cultivation and are of little use to songbirds and waterfowl. Small
mammal use of the fields increases, and owls and raptors return for
productive hunting forays after nightfall. The Great Blue Heron
(blue-listed and COSEWIC-SC) and Barn Owl (COSEWIC-SC)
supplement their diets with Townsend’s voles that make their homes
in wet meadows and fields. In autumn, the fields are busy stopover
points for birds migrating south. Species encountered will vary from
field to field, depending on the surrounding habitat, and individual
species requirements.
Water storage–Like wetlands and riparian ecosystems, seasonally
flooded field ecosystems can reduce peak flows by slowing or
storing runoff, and stabilising water flows throughout the year.
Important component of ecosystem complexes—When a
seasonally flooded field is adjacent or connected to the larger mosaic
of woodlands, wetlands, and riparian corridors, wildlife use will
extend to other seasons (see sidebar). Many species depend on one
ecosystem for part of their life cycle, and surrounding areas for
another. For example, seasonally flooded fields may be vital for
winter survival, and riparian woodlands for breeding and nesting.
Sandhill Crane (B)
(R. Savannah)
Seasonally flooded fields and agricultural landscapes that are linked
to riparian ecosystems have the additional quality of being part of a
linear corridor that allows non-flying species to disperse and move
between other suitable habitat patches (see also page 20).
140 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field
The edge between a woodland or forest and a seasonally
flooded field ecosystem is also an ecologically important
landscape component. The primary function of the edge is to
provide a structural transition from a non-forested ecosystem to
a forested one. The result is a flow of energy, nutrients and
species between these ecosystems. Both lengthwise and
transverse movements of species along and through these edges
makes them places of intense species interactions (e.g.
breeding, predation), thus moulding the composition of plant
and animal communities within both ecosystems. Forest/field
edges, given room to generate and expand, provide a gradual
transition between the ecosystems, resulting in species richness
and habitat diversity.
Socio-economic Values
Agricultural benefits—The primary benefit from agriculture is
to the farmer and society who benefit from a source of local
food. An additional benefit of these seasonally flooded
agricultural fields is bird use, which benefits society as a whole.
Programs such as Greenfields, Comox Valley Waterfowl
Management Program and the Delta Farmland and Wildlife
Trust Farmscape Program can mitigate the impact of birds on
agriculture.
Outdoor recreation—The seasonal ebb and flow of waterfowl
and other birds is an important part of nature. Wintering areas
now attract thousands of visitors to view wintering and
migrating waterfowl. During the winter months, seasonally
flooded fields can become ‘hot spots’ for recreational activities
such as birdwatching and wildlife viewing. Fields in the
Martindale Valley Flats and Island View Beach on the Saanich
Peninsula have received national and international media
attention96 because of the vast numbers of bird species (170)97
recorded there throughout the year, many of which are red- or
blue-listed. Farmers in these areas have been working with
naturalists to create a code of ethics for wildlife viewing which
is mutually acceptable.
Eco-tourism—Bird watching opportunities can have a positive
local economic impact. In the Comox area, the Trumpeter Swan
Festival, held the first week of February, is beginning to receive
international attention. This event attracts birdwatchers from
other countries, and provides a boost to the local economy
during a traditionally slow time.
96
97
If a [region] accepts
sustainable self-sufficiency
as its primary goal, it will
give first attention to
agriculture. Food is a more
basic need than industrial
products.
— Daly and Cobb Jr.
(R. Savannah)
Great Outdoors Recreation Pages, see web site: www.gorp.com
See web site: http://birding.bc.ca, local hotspots.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 141
Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field
Management
Recommendations
The long-term preservation of
agricultural lands and
agricultural activities in the
SEI region is of paramount
importance.
Compared to the recommendations for the seven sensitive
ecosystem types (Chapters 5-11), the emphasis on the two other
important ecosystems—older second growth forest and
seasonally flooded agricultural fields—is less on protection and
more on recommending careful management in order to
increase or maintain biodiversity values, while having the
ecosystems provide goods and services for humans.
Where possible, local governments and landowners should
encourage that the concept of ecosystem management98 be applied
to seasonally flooded agricultural field ecosystems. Rather than
managing for specific goods or services, the ecosystem is managed
for the structures and processes that are necessary to deliver the
goods and services, with sustainability as a precondition.
Conservation Stewardship
Models
In the Cowichan Valley
Canadian Wildlife Service, BC
Ministry of Agriculture and
Food, Ducks Unlimited
Canada, The Nature Trust of
B. C., local land trusts and
farmers are co-operating on
the development of individual
seasonally flooded
agricultural field management
plans.
In the Comox Valley, the
above agencies are cooperating with local farmers
to develop a comprehensive
regional Trumpeter Swan
Management Plan and
Ducks Unlimited recently
purchased the Farquharson
Farms on the Courtenay River
floodplain in order to conserve
both agriculture and
waterfowl habitat.
Urban encroachment onto farmland is the biggest threat to this
ecosystem type. As agricultural practices change, and agriculture is
replaced by other land uses, seasonally flooded agricultural fields
may become threatened habitats themselves.
No incentive is presently offered to farmers to maintain seasonally
flooded agricultural fields, or to conserve and increase all types of
wildlife habitat on farmlands such as leaving hedgerows for their
wildlife values. If conservation of these fields is ecologically and
societally important, farmers alone cannot be expected to bear the
financial burden of implementing conservation management plans.
This is an important consideration, particularly if economic
opportunities are lost in the process.
In highly fragmented landscapes such as the east side of Vancouver
Island, wildlife species depend on a series of inter-connected
habitat patches. With the historical loss of natural wetland
ecosystems, seasonally flooded agricultural field ecosystems are
playing an increasingly important role by providing surrogate
wetland habitat for wildlife. The value of these ecosystems in the
landscape mosaic has been recognised by several levels of
government and non-government agencies as a conservation issue
(see also page 20).
When developing a management plan for seasonally flooded
agricultural field ecosystems, it is assumed that a local ecosystems
98
Christensen et al. 1996.
142 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field
plan and protection strategy have been carried out (see page 28).
The following recommendations will aid in the site management of
seasonally flooded agricultural field ecosystems.
Maintain linkages to adjacent natural ecosystems—Fields
that are adjacent to natural riparian and wetland ecosystems
create expanded linkage opportunities, and increase habitat
diversity within the larger landscape mosaic. Hedgerows that
have developed along fence lines forming the boundaries
between land holdings or fields create other linkages and travel
corridors. Habitat diversity attracts a greater variety of species,
each with a unique suite of habitat needs.
Reduce landscape fragmentation—Locate farm development
away from riparian ecosystems in order to maintain the linear
and continuous nature of riparian ecosystems and ensure that
riparian ecosystems are not severed from adjacent upland
ecosystems (see also page 20).
Use Conservation-oriented Management
Practices
Because seasonally flooded field habitats are the product of land
management and drainage practices, ongoing site management is
an important aspect of their conservation. A number of guidelines
and management techniques that are common to every seasonally
flooded agricultural field are presented below.
Create vegetation buffers between high-use areas and
fields—Vegetation buffers may be required if the fields are
located next to high-traffic roads (e.g., the Pat Bay Highway)
that can alter habitat use because of vehicular movement or
associated noise. Vegetation buffers also can serve as
windbreaks, define field boundaries, provide visual screens,
and serve as movement corridors into adjacent ecosystems.
Plant winter cover crops—Winter cover crops are planted on
harvested fields to protect the soil surface from erosion,
provide weed control, enhance soil organic matters, and reduce
wildlife damage to vulnerable fields that are managed as
permanent pasture or hay meadows. Winter cover crops such as
fall rye can lure waterfowl away from vulnerable lands, such as
more valuable perennial grass pastures.
See Section Two for
discussion of available
Conservation Tools.
Hazards of Pesticide Use
In October 1975, 1,000
Green-winged Teal died in
agricultural fields in Ladner
from a probable cause of
pesticide poisoning
(Carbofuran G) after a
farmer applied the pesticide
at up to 4-times the
registered application rate.
In another instance, 1060
Savannah Sparrows died in
Richmond in September 1986
with the same probable
cause.
Plant and maintain boundary hedgerows—Boundary hedges
are important “living fence” features in farmlands because in
addition to separating land uses, they have the capacity to
buffer fields for various reasons, provide structural diversity,
food and cover for wildlife, and create linkages to other
habitats.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 143
Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field
Establish grass leave strips along field margins—Grass
leave strips are uncultivated field margin strips of native
grasses and forbs. They provide a transition zone between
agricultural fields and boundary hedges or edges, provide
habitat for beneficial insects (pollinators and predators), and
cover for small mammals and song birds.
Mimic naturally occurring edges by developing “soft”
edges between fields and adjacent forested areas—The
edges of forests and woodlands can be the most important
habitat for many wildlife species, but can increase the
vulnerability of the forest or woodland to interference from
other land use activities. “Hard” edges are managed for
convenience to provide an abrupt break between two
ecosystem types. They are of little use to wildlife and can help
undesired species invade the woodland or forest. “Soft” edges
provide a seamless transition between the grass leave strips at
the farm field margin and the woodland or forest. Soft edges
are composed of a wide variety of smaller shrubs that grade
into larger shrubs and small trees towards the woodland or
forest. Soft edges can be managed to create a fairly
impenetrable border to the woodland or forest, which can help
control public access, and protect the forest interior (see also
page 22).
Redtailed Hawk (M. Hames)
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts
Manage recreational access—Undisciplined wildlife viewing
and birdwatching can cause negative impacts such as
trespassing, crop damage, and trampling of farmlands.
Proactive communication between farmers, wildlife managers,
recreation or park planners, and the general public is important
to ensure that the concerns of the various interest groups are
understood by all, and workable solutions are developed (see
sidebar). Signage, fencing, and designated official viewing
areas are a few techniques that have been used successfully
elsewhere.99
The Victoria Natural History
Society and a group of local
farmers have developed a code
of ethics for birders using the
Martindale Flats.
Control invasive plant species—Canada thistle, annual sow
thistle, perennial sow thistle, common burdock, leafy spurge,
and ox-eye daisy are some of the unwanted introduced species
that can threaten seasonally flooded fields because they are
difficult to reduce in abundance, have minimal value for
wetland wildlife, or out-compete agronomic and native plants
with greater habitat value. Himalayan blackberry is often the
most invasive shrub species found in the scrub-shrub zone at
99
VanderPol 1998.
144 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field
field edges. Where this occurs adjacent to a riparian ecosystem
it can be problematic due to the displacement of native species
(see also page 21).
Control pets during active wildlife season (see pages 21 and
23).
Maintain hydrological regime—To provide wildlife habitat on
seasonally flooded agricultural fields, winter flooding could be
allowed to occur naturally and other critical habitat elements
(food, water and cover) could also be allowed to develop
undisturbed over the winter months. This would ensure that
water levels rise gradually, providing waterfowl accessibility to
seeds, tubers, browse and invertebrates (see sidebar).
Some farmers work cooperatively with Ducks
Unlimited Canada to
maintain adequate winter
water levels on their lands
through the installation of
water control structures.
Wintering waterfowl benefit
from the higher water levels
on the fields and the
farmers benefit because
water levels can be quickly
lowered in spring allowing
them earlier access to the
fields than would otherwise
be possible.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 145
Section Two
Conservation Tools
for
Local Governments
Landowners and other Citizens
Senior Governments
(D. Gunn)
Local governments can use the SEI information to designate Environmentally Sensitive Areas and
Development Permit Areas. (Photo: Roy Ostling)
14 What Local Governments Can Do
T
his section of the manual provides general guidance to local
governments, landowners and other citizens and senior
governments for conserving and protecting ecosystems.
Although the focus of the manual is on the seven sensitive
ecosystems and two other important ecosystems (see sidebar), the
tools can also be used for conserving other environmentally
sensitive areas (ESAs).
Planning
Local governments have numerous planning tools available to assist
them in protecting and conserving sensitive and other important
ecosystems. Various considerations enter into decisions as to which
tools to use in a particular situation. In many cases, innovative
development plans can allow compatible development to take place,
while conserving sensitive ecosystems and respecting the legal
rights of landowners. In some cases, existing environmental
problems may have resulted from ongoing land uses that conflict
with environmental objectives or do not conform to bylaws.
Sensitive ecosystems
Coastal Bluff
Sparsely Vegetated
Terrestrial Herbaceous
Wetland
Riparian
Woodland
Older Forest
Other important ecosystems
The tools below provide many options for developing
environmentally compatible development plans within the local
government’s jurisdiction.
Older Second Growth Forest
Seasonally Flooded
Agricultural Field
Primary Goals
The primary goals of the policies and regulations described in this
chapter reflect the differences between the seven sensitive
ecosystems and the two other important ecosystems.
Sensitive ecosystems—the policies and regulations suggested
below seek to conserve these areas in a relatively natural state.
Other important ecosystems—the policies and regulations
suggested below seek to maintain the resource use values of the
two other important ecosystems while minimising the loss of
ecosystem functions.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 149
Local Government Planning
Information Requirements
Other Sources
of Information
Sound information is needed to establish a policy and legal basis for
protecting sensitive and other important ecosystems. Three types of
information are considered in this chapter:
Canadian WildlifeService,
Environment Canada
Ministry of Environment,
Lands and Parks
B.C. Conservation Data
Centre100
Local naturalists
Environmental groups
Universities
First Nations
SEI ecosystems are the nine ecosystems defined by the
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory (SEI). Information gathered
by the SEI project is at an overview level. Site-specific
development proposals will require further refinement and
confirmation by detailed inventories, field studies, and
groundtruthing to ensure that all habitat patches have been
identified.
SEI information can be used by local governments to ‘red flag’
areas for designation as Environmentally Sensitive Areas and
Development Permit Areas. The detailed ecological information
that was collected during the SEI field checking of selected
sites101 can be used on special features and/or ecosystem
processes, and the management recommendations in this manual
can be used for Development Approval Information. Developers
can also use the manual’s information to incorporate
conservation objectives into initial development design to
streamline approvals.
Development Approval Information (DAI) may be required
from developers to provide more detailed information as part of
the development approval process.
Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA) are areas formally
designated as environmentally sensitive by the local government.
ESAs are usually identified spatially on a map. Local
governments may, in co-operation with other government
agencies, assemble databases for identifying and managing
ESAs within their boundaries. Sensitivity may be due to
ecological concerns or existence of natural hazards. ESAs may
be mapped either at an overview scale or in considerable detail,
depending on the local government jurisdiction. ESAs are not
applicable to Managed Forest Land subject to the Private Land
Forest Practices Regulation or to “agricultural reserve lands”
under the jurisdiction of the Agricultural Land Commission.
100
The B.C. Conservation Data Centre (CDC) tracks rare plants, animals,
and natural plant communities throughout the province. Please check the
CDC website (see Appendix H) for current tracking lists.
101
Approximately 30% or 2,279 of the sites were visited to verify air photo
interpretation and collect ecological data to support assigned classifications
(see Volume 1, page 15, for details); this information is available upon
request (see Appendix H).
150 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Local Government Planning
Information Verification
Local governments may do the following to ensure adequate
information for managing sensitive ecosystems.
Establish procedures for verification and groundtruthing of
candidate areas for inclusion in ESAs, as part of planning
updates and development approvals, in co-operation with other
government agencies.
Review, refine, and confirm areas identified by the Sensitive
Ecosystems Inventory Project as candidates for inclusion in
ESA inventories or maps.
Enact appropriate bylaws to require Development Approval
Information for all Sensitive Ecosystem ESAs pursuant to the
Municipal Act, sections 879.1 and 920.1.
Establish procedures and policies for provision of such
information. In co-operation with other government
agencies, provide criteria for the types of information to be
provided, and its sources, quality, and reliability.
Use the Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory and information in
this manual as a basis for defining the circumstances and
rationale for this designation.
Involve the public, non-government organisations;
environmental, fish, and wildlife agencies; and qualified
professional consultants in co-operative efforts to assemble
and evaluate ESA studies and review Development Approval
Information. This can involve workshops, open houses,
advisory groups, or other participation approaches to gather
local knowledge and information.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 151
Official Community Plans
Official Community Plans
See Municipal Act,
sections 875 - 885 for
more information
Using suggested policies
in developing Official
Community Plans
Actual legal documents would
need to be customised to
reflect local practices and
conditions. Readers should
seek legal advice when
preparing new legal
documents or bylaws, or when
interpreting existing ones.
The Official Community Plan (OCP) provides overall policy
direction for the local government and establishes the basis for its
regulations and development approvals. OCPs may include goals
and policies that define the local government’s intention to protect
and conserve sensitive ecosystems. A Rural Land Use Bylaw gives,
to regional districts, powers similar to an OCP for planning of
areas outside a municipality that do not have official community
plans. Rural Land Use Bylaws may be less restrictive than OCPs
and are primarily used by regional districts in less developed areas
as an alternative to an OCP.
For local governments who intend to conserve and protect sensitive
ecosystems, the following policies are suggested as models (see
sidebar) that could be incorporated in OCPs. The common policies
suggested below are relevant to all sensitive ecosystems unless
otherwise noted. Additional policies specific to individual
ecosystems are also presented.
Suggested Policies for all Sensitive
Ecosystems
Recognise the importance of sensitive ecosystems as a part of
the natural environment and biological diversity of the
community, and an important component of the open green
space and natural features of the community.
Promote preservation of sensitive ecosystem areas and their
living resources in a natural condition and maintain these areas
free of development and human activity to the maximum
extent possible.
Promote priority acquisition and preservation of sensitive
ecosystem sites as protected areas, where possible, with strict
‘no access’ and ‘no disturbance’ bylaws for especially sensitive
zones.
Great Horned Owl
(R. Savannah)
Develop a local government-led ecosystems plan, with the
assistance of government, non-government environmental
agencies and the public, that:
utilises ecosystem, habitat, and environmental inventories
developed by environmental agencies such as the Ministry
of Environment, Lands and Parks; Canadian Wildlife
Service; and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
identifies a network of ecosystems that exist within the
larger landscape.
152 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Official Community Plans
identifies isolated ecosystems and establishes or enhances
corridors, connections, and linkages with larger ecosystem
networks.
promotes connectivity between, and discourages
fragmentation of, contiguous ecosystems and ecosystem
components to preserve landscape diversity, and allow
wildlife use, movement, and dispersal.
Establish goals, objectives, and policies related to the
preservation, protection, restoration, and enhancement of:
sensitive ecosystems and their natural environments and
biological diversity.
See Municipal Act, sections
878 and 879.
Develop policies, bylaws, plans, and procedures for
preserving, protecting, restoring, and enhancing these
ecosystems, while not rendering private parcels as unusable
and subject to compensation.
Designate ESAs identified for sensitive ecosystems as
Development Permit Areas (DPAs) in the OCP using
information in this manual and provide guidelines for
development or land use changes in these areas.
See Municipal Act, sections
879 and 920.
Discourage development and other activities that are not
compatible with the preservation, protection, restoration, and
enhancement of sensitive ecosystems in DPAs, including land
uses and the location of roads and utility corridors.
Designate sensitive and other important ecosystem DPAs as
areas for which Development Approval Information may be
required.
See Municipal Act, sections
879.1 and 920.1.
Provide technical assistance to landowners to become involved
in stewardship initiatives such as appropriate restoration and
enhancement, and registering conservation covenants.
Maintain appropriate buffers, determined by suitably qualified
professionals, around sensitive ecosystem areas that take into
account processes of natural erosion, deposition and movement
of natural boundaries (see sidebar).
See Environmental Objectives,
Best Management Practices
and Requirements for Land
Development.102
Protect SEI ecosystems from invasion of introduced species.
Manage recreational access into ecosystems to minimise
impacts especially during wildlife nesting seasons.
102
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks 2000.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 153
Official Community Plans
Additional Policy Suggestions for Coastal
Bluff Ecosystems
Recognise the extremely sensitive and vulnerable nature of this
ecosystem to almost any human disturbance, especially during
bird nesting periods and early growing season for plants.
Restrict construction of boat access (docks and wharves), shore
protection, and other marine and shoreline structures near
coastal bluffs.
Restrict water uses that may adversely affect coastal bluff sites.
This may include working with other government agencies to
limit or restrict the development of upslope septic fields,
inappropriate drainage systems and garden watering.
Entire-leaved gumweed
(Grindelia integrifolia)
(E.J. Stephen)
Working with other government agencies, limit or restrict
mariculture operations on sites near coastal bluffs, that may
adversely affect or have impacts on sensitive coastal bluff shore
and marine areas, based on marine environmental impact
assessments prepared by qualified professionals.
Additional Policy Suggestions for Sparsely
Vegetated Ecosystems
Recognise the extremely sensitive and vulnerable nature of this
ecosystem to almost any human disturbance.
Working with other government agencies, limit or restrict any
construction or development activities near coastal sand dune
and sand spit areas that might disrupt or alter coastal processes,
isturb sand movement processes, alter natural wind and current
flows, cause instability of dunes or spits, or disturb natural
landscape, terrain features, or associated vegetation. Restricted
activities could include boat access facilities, shore protection,
engineering works, beach groins, or other marine structures on
coastal sand dunes and coastal spits and adjacent areas.
Working with other government agencies, limit or restrict water
uses that may adversely affect sparsely vegetated sites,
including the development of upslope septic fields,
inappropriate drainage systems and garden watering.
Working with other government agencies, limit or restrict
mariculture operations on sites near sensitive sparsely vegetated
ecosystems that may adversely affect or have impacts on
sensitive dune and spit areas, based on marine environmental
impact assessments prepared by qualified professionals.
154 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Official Community Plans
Additional Policy Suggestions for
Terrestrial Herbaceous Ecosystems
Recognise the extremely sensitive and vulnerable nature of this
ecosystem to almost any human disturbance.
Working with other government agencies, limit or restrict water
uses that may adversely affect terrestrial herbaceous sites,
including the development of upslope septic fields,
inappropriate drainage systems and garden watering.
Additional Policy Suggestions
for Wetland Ecosystems
Investigate and consider the overall hydrology affecting the
ecology of wetland ecosystems, and ensure local government
land use plans maintain natural surface, groundwater and
nutrient regimes to support existing wetland hydrology and
ecological processes.
White hawkweed
(Hieracium albiflorum)
(E.J. Stephen)
Protect water quality from pollutants, sedimentation or altered
nutrient loading.
Additional Policy Suggestions
for Riparian Ecosystems
Protect water quality from pollutants, sedimentation or altered
nutrient loading.
Maintain continuous riparian corridors of sufficient width to
protect fish and wildlife habitat and accommodate the dynamic
nature of the hydrologic system, and reduce the need for
channel stabilisation and flood controls.
Avoid locating road and utility corridors along, parallel to, or
across riparian ecosystems in order to maintain unconstrained
natural connections for wildlife to surrounding upland
ecosystems. Where crossings are necessary, design crossing
corridors that are narrow and perpendicular to riparian areas,
and elevated to maintain wildlife connections.
Additional Policy Suggestions
for Woodland Ecosystems
Work with landowners to retain patches of natural forest in
addition to open meadow areas with isolated trees.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 155
Official Community Plans
Additional Policy Suggestions
for Older Forest Ecosystems
Long-eared bat
(L. Friis)
Work with private forest landowners to encourage the
development of appropriate forest management plans for
logging activities which identify, where possible, approaches
that sustain the structure and composition of older forest
ecosystems. This suggestion and the following suggestions are
not applicable to Managed Forest Land identified under the
Assessment Act subject to the Private Land Forest Practices
Regulation.
Work with private forest landowners to conserve forest patches
of sufficient size to support interior forest conditions.
Work with private forest landowners to maintain natural
disturbance regimes of older forest and related ecosystems to
sustain successional processes and maintain diversity, where
practicable.
Work with private forest landowners to provide adequate
buffers between older forests and developed areas to avoid
demands to remove or top “hazard” trees.
Work with private forest landowners to discourage site
clearing, urban development, and road and utility construction
within older forest ecosystem areas, especially where such
development fragments forest areas into smaller patches.
Seek to acquire and conserve important older forest
ecosystems as open green space and parkland.
156 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Development Permits
Development Permits
Development Permits may be used by local governments to
establish special requirements that apply to development or
redevelopment, including the preservation, protection, restoration
and enhancement of the natural environment, its ecosystems, and
biological diversity. Development permits are one of the most
important tools available to a local government for protecting
sensitive ecosystems.
The following guidelines are suggested as models (see sidebar) for
inclusion in Development Permits and, unless noted, apply to most
sensitive ecosystem categories. Additional provisions are suggested
for specific ecosystems.
Development permits are not generally developed for application to,
nor are applicable to, Managed Forest Land as identified under the
Assessment Act and subject to the Private Land Forest Practices
Regulation or to lands within the Agricultural Land Reserve.
Therefore ecosystems such as older forest, seasonally flooded
agricultural field and older second growth forest within Managed
Forest Land are not managed or protected using development
permits.
See Municipal Act, sections
879, 920, 925 for more
information.
Using suggested guidelines in
creating Development
Permits
Actual legal documents would
need to be customised to
reflect local practices and
conditions. Readers should
seek legal advice when
preparing new legal
documents or bylaws, or when
interpreting existing ones.
Suggested Guidelines
for all Sensitive Ecosystems
Designate sensitive ecosystems ESAs as Development Permit
Areas (DPA).
Require that a Development Permit be obtained prior to
subdivision, construction, alteration of land, disturbance of
vegetation, soil deposit or removal, or any other development or
activity that would disturb sensitive ecosystems within DPAs.
Require, as a condition of development permit approval, that
development in less sensitive portions of the DPA be planned,
designed, and implemented in a manner that will not adversely
affect or disturb the sensitive ecosystems. This should be
tailored to site-specific conditions, including
vegetation, trees, snags, and root systems.
rare and uncommon species and plant communities.
soils and soil conditions.
terrain features such as rock.
birds and other wildlife and their habitats, such as nesting
and breeding areas.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 157
Development Permits
Avoid creating access such as trails to sensitive ecosystems that
could be adversely impacted by human activity.
Encourage application of density bonusing, cluster housing,
relaxation of servicing requirements (such as street widths),
density transfers, or other innovative planning tools to achieve
attractive development designs while protecting sensitive
ecosystems.
Require that Development Approval Information be prepared
by qualified environmental professionals, to include as a
minimum:
The Ministry of Environment,
Lands and Parks has prepared
general terms of reference for
these types of studies (see
Appendix B).
a topographic survey with an appropriate contour interval.
an inventory of natural biophysical features including soils,
trees, vegetation, water bodies, watercourses, wetlands,
wildlife species, ecological processes, and other ecosystem
components (see sidebar).
identification of populations, habitats, or natural features
supporting rare, threatened, and endangered species.
identification and confirmation of the boundaries of
sensitive and other important ecosystem ESAs.
description of site development plans and operations.
assessment of the potential environmental effects of
activities and developments proposed for the site on
sensitive and important ecosystems and watercourses.
Require that an environmental site plan be prepared by
qualified environmental professionals, as an integral part of a
Development Permit for any Development Permit Area that
includes or abuts a sensitive ecosystem, to ensure that the
development does not create offsite effects that adversely affect
that ecosystem. The site plan should
include details of specific provisions that will be
implemented to preserve, protect, restore, and enhance the
natural environment, ecosystems, and biological diversity
of sensitive ecosystems within the DPA.
specify terms and conditions regulating any activities that
may potentially adversely affect or disturb species,
vegetation, soils, watercourses, natural features, or
ecological processes of sensitive ecosystems within the
DPA, where such disturbance is unavoidable.
define measures for professional environmental
supervision, inspection, and monitoring of development
activities and related environmental effects on sensitive
ecosystems occurring during and after development,
including the environmental consequences of any
contravention of a condition of the Development Permit
158 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Development Permits
and proposed measures for mitigation of these
consequences.
conform to all municipal bylaws, federal and provincial
legislation, regulations, and standards.
Require that all areas within sensitive ecosystems DPAs
remain free of development, except for areas identified as
suitable for development in an approved Development Permit
and associated environmental site plan.
Promote and maintain natural buffers adjacent to sensitive
ecosystem areas, where possible, that
recognise natural processes and changing natural
boundaries.
See Environmental Objectives,
Best Management Practices
and Requirements for Land
Development.103
insulate the ecosystem from uses that would cause adverse
effects.
avoid disturbance and removal of native vegetation by
people.
emphasise native vegetation species compatible with the
ecosystem.
deter spreading invasive non-native species into the
ecosystem.
deter grazing by livestock or feral animals in sensitive
ecosystem areas.
deter predation and disturbance of wildlife by pets and
domestic animals in sensitive and other important
ecosystem areas.
maintain wildlife corridors between the ecosystem and
nearby wildlife habitat patches.
Maintain connectivity and linkages with adjacent sensitive
ecosystems and other habitat areas through the use of corridors
and greenways to minimise fragmentation.
Chanterelle
(C. Tunnoch)
Where the development site contains or is adjacent to a natural
watercourse, require that the developer
dedicate, where possible, the watercourse and continuous
riparian corridors of sufficient width to protect fish and
wildlife habitat and accommodate the dynamic nature of
the hydrologic system, to reduce the need for channel
stabilisation and flood controls.
prevent access to the watercourse by construction
activities, except as approved by appropriate government
agencies.
103
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks 2000.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 159
Development Permits
ensure that the flow of the watercourse is not polluted by
sediment or toxic materials, or obstructed or impeded,
whether or not the watercourse is located on private
property.
preserve and restore the watercourse to natural condition,
including the planting and retaining of vegetation and
trees, in order to preserve, protect, restore, or enhance fish
habitat or riparian areas, control drainage, or control
erosion or protect banks.
comply with provisions of the B.C. Water Act, Canada
Fisheries Act and B.C. Fish Protection Act.
Design and implement appropriate sediment and erosion
control measures to protect sensitive ecosystems from silt
smothering low plant growth where land disturbance is
planned or likely.
Where utilities, servicing, and infrastructure are required near
sensitive ecosystems,
avoid locating these works within ESAs and associated
buffers.
permit their location within ESAs and associated buffers
only where the installation is necessary, such as essential
public roads, utilities, public works, pathways and creek or
ecosystem restoration or protection measures or there is no
other physical alternative, in the determination of the local
government, except to locate within an ESA.
require construction to be managed to avoid adverse
effects on sensitive and important ecosystem functions and
condition.
require installations to be located and designed so that
sensitive and important ecosystems can be maintained
when adjacent lands are developed.
require that any disturbed sensitive ecosystems be restored
and enhanced to maintain at least the previously existing
natural conditions and functions of the sensitive
ecosystem.
Encourage the use of only native plant species where
development occurs within or adjacent to a sensitive ecosystem
and discourage use of invasive plant species that could
supplant native species.
Create and implement a plan, where necessary, to control the
introduction or spread of invasive plant species. This plan may
include, where appropriate, removal of invasive species by
hand clearing, pruning, mowing, or excavation. Disturbed sites
should be planted with appropriate native species. Herbicides
160 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Development Permits
may be used carefully in special situations with advice of an
appropriate environmental professional.
Require that development activities not be implemented in
areas that would disturb wildlife during spring nesting and
breeding seasons. Ensure that wildlife agencies are consulted
as necessary to determine the best times and practices for
development.
Minimise human activities within sensitive and important
ecosystems that disturb wildlife, compact or expose soils, or
damage native vegetation, such as intensive recreation and
livestock grazing. Where such activities are unavoidable
favour designs that minimise road and other public access
to sensitive and important ecosystems.
develop and implement Best Management Practices or
guidelines104 to mitigate impacts, including prescriptions
for managing human activities and uses.
provide information to landowners on the sensitivity of the
ecosystems and the types of activities that adversely affect
these ecosystems.
Hairy Woodpecker
(M. Hames)
develop and provide opportunities for public education.
install appropriately-designed fencing, rails, pathways,
elevated boardwalks, signage, and access controls, where
necessary and ensure that they do not impede wildlife
access between the sensitive ecosystem and adjacent
habitat areas
Trails and other crossings are not recommended within ESAs
or sensitive ecosystems. Where appropriate, they should be
designed and constructed consistent with the Access near
Aquatic Areas Stewardship Guidebook,105 these should be
aligned to:
provide the least intrusive and disruptive route to viewing
areas.
avoid areas with high soil compaction or erosion potential.
avoid sensitive or rare vegetation.
prevent intrusion into wet areas including seepage sites
and wetlands.
104
105
See sidebar, page 159.
See Appendix A: Stewardship Series
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 161
Development Permits
Additional Guideline Suggestions
for Coastal Bluff Ecosystems
Require that land development activities be planned, designed,
and implemented in a manner that will not adversely affect or
disturb vegetated rocky islets, rocky shorelines with grasslands
or mosses, and coastal cliffs, including:
vegetation, trees, snags, and root systems.
rare and uncommon species and communities.
terrain features such as rock and especially soils.
adjacent foreshore and marine areas.
birds and other wildlife and their habitats, such as nesting
and breeding areas, microhabitats and habitat niches
characteristic of this ecosystem.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
(E.J. Stephen)
Working with other government agencies, discourage or restrict
the disturbance of natural coastal and shoreline processes, and
natural ecological and successional processes, from the
construction of groins, breakwaters, seawalls, docks, or other
landings or protection structures, excavation, blasting, or other
alteration of land form, deposition of materials, or the location
and operation of mariculture operations.
Working with other government agencies, prohibit the
dumping of wastes or release of pollutants on land or adjacent
marine areas, including boat sewage, garbage, garden wastes, or
soils from neighbouring areas.
Require a marine and geotechnical investigation by qualified
professionals to identify areas subject to landslide, rock fall,
erosion, marine or other hazards.
Additional Guideline Suggestions
for Sparsely Vegetated Ecosystems
Require that land development activities be planned, designed,
and implemented in a manner that will not adversely affect or
disturb sparsely vegetated inland bluffs, coastal sand dunes, and
coastal sand spits, including
vegetation, trees, snags, and root systems.
rare and uncommon species and plant communities.
terrain features such as rock and especially soils.
adjacent foreshore and marine areas, including natural sand
features and vegetation that supports them.
162 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Development Permits
birds and other wildlife and their habitats, such as nesting
and breeding areas, microhabitats and habitat niches
characteristic of this ecosystem.
Working with other government agencies, discourage, limit or
restrict inappropriate sand replenishment or sand control works
implemented to create or maintain beaches.
Working with other government agencies, restrict or limit
excessive vessel movement near dunes and spits.
Working with other government agencies, discourage, limit or
restrict disturbance of natural coastal and shoreline processes,
and natural ecological and successional processes, from the
construction of groins, breakwaters, seawalls, docks, or other
landings or protection structures, excavation, blasting, or other
alteration of land form, deposition of materials, or the location
and operation of aquaculture operations.
Working with other government agencies, prohibit the
dumping of wastes or release of pollutants on land or adjacent
marine areas, including boat sewage, garbage, garden wastes,
or soils from neighbouring areas.
Require a marine and geotechnical investigation by qualified
professionals to identify areas subject to landslide, rock fall,
erosion, marine or other hazards.
Additional Guideline Suggestions for
Terrestrial Herbaceous Ecosystems
Require that land development activities be planned, designed,
and implemented in a manner that will not adversely affect or
disturb terrestrial herbaceous open wildflower meadows and
grassy balds, including
grasses, forbs, shrubs, bryophytes, trees, snags, and root
systems.
rare and uncommon species and communities.
terrain features such as rock and especially soils and soil
conditions.
adjacent foreshore and marine areas.
birds and other wildlife and their habitats, such as nesting
and breeding areas, microhabitats and habitat niches
characteristic of this ecosystem.
Require a geo-technical investigation by qualified
professionals to identify areas subject to landslide, rock fall,
erosion and other hazards.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 163
Development Permits
Additional Guideline Suggestions
for Wetland Ecosystems
Require that land development activities be planned, designed,
and implemented in a manner that will not adversely affect or
disturb bogs, fens, marshes, swamps, shallow water areas, or
wet meadows, including:
wetland vegetation and structure.
rare or uncommon animals, wetland plants or plant
communities.
wildlife habitats such as breeding and nesting sites.
soils and soil conditions.
Require proponents to enlist the assistance of suitably
qualified professionals to calculate baseline flow regimes,
where possible, as part of an integrated stormwater
management strategy to determine optimum water levels.
Avoid trail, fencing, or landscape materials that would
adversely affect wetlands, such as limestone, bark mulch, and
preserved wood.
Maintain the natural groundwater and surface water hydrologic
systems that supports the wetland’s ecological processes by
retaining professional biological and hydrologic services
to advise on treatment of hydrology in the environmental
site plan.
maintaining existing volumes, flows, and timing of
stormwater drainage, except where alterations restore or
enhance natural regimes.
maintaining existing volumes, timing, and rates of
stormwater infiltration or recharge to groundwater
systems, except where alterations restore or enhance
natural regimes.
minimising the extent of impervious area covering
groundwater infiltration areas and storm runoff associated
with the wetland, and use effective porous pavements such
as “grasscrete”, exfiltration galleries, or other techniques
to compensate for loss of pervious surfaces.
maintaining natural ecological processes that support the
wetlands including winter flooding, seasonal drawdown,
beaver activity, sediment accretion, tidal activity, and
groundwater recharge and discharge.
protecting water quality from pollutants and
sedimentation, including nutrient rich urban stormwater,
agricultural runoff, and septic field drainage.
164 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Development Permits
avoiding ditching and drainage works within the
hydrologic zone of the wetland.
Ensure that trees in the wetland ecosystem and associated
buffer areas are given stabilisation treatments as necessary,
under the supervision of a suitably qualified professional, to
ensure a windfirm edge, such as feathering, sail pruning,
topping, and removal of unsound trees. Ensure, where
possible, that trees in windward edge are located in deep soils
and well rooted.
Beaver
(L. Friis)
Additional Guideline Suggestions
for Riparian Ecosystems
All tributaries and channels within riparian ecosystems should
be carefully identified so that protection of these systems is
possible.
Require that land development activities be planned, designed,
and implemented in a manner that will not adversely affect or
disturb riparian ecosystems, including
natural processes related to disturbance events and
ecological succession, such as natural flow regimes of
streams, seasonal flooding, stream channel movement,
senescence of seral species, windthrow or blow-down of
trees, and natural slope failures.
trees, understorey plants, and other vegetation within the
riparian ecosystem area.
nesting and denning sites.
standing dead and dying trees, snags, fallen trees, downed
logs, and similar forest features within riparian ecosystem
area.
natural corridors and connectivity of riparian species and
habitats with important upland ecosystems.
Minimise windthrow, susceptibility to invasive species, and
loss of interior, non-edge habitats by maintaining
riparian corridors as wide as practical with buffers of trees
well rooted in deep soil.
wildlife corridors between the riparian and nearby upland
ecosystem patches.
Ensure that trees in the buffer areas are given stabilisation
treatments as necessary, under the supervision of a suitably
qualified professional, to ensure a windfirm edge, such as
feathering, sail pruning, topping, and removal of unsound
trees. Ensure that trees in windward edge are located in deep
soils and well-rooted, where possible.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 165
Development Permits
Avoid removal of snags and downed logs for fire wood, cedar
shake production or any other purpose.
Additional Guideline Suggestions
for Woodland Ecosystems
Require that land development activities be planned, designed,
and implemented in a manner that will not adversely affect or
disturb Garry oak, arbutus, or trembling aspen ecosystems,
including:
the root systems of trees, tree density, tree canopy, tree
health, or stand age structure.
shrub, herb, grass, moss, and lichen understorey species.
standing dead and dying trees, fallen trees, snags and
downed logs.
fallen limbs, leaf litter, and other natural detritus.
soil conditions.
Shooting star (Dodecatheon)
(B. Penn)
ground or surface water drainage regimes.
nesting and denning sites.
Require that a tree management plan be prepared by a suitably
qualified professional as part of the environmental site plan
that would
locate and design windward edges of forest stands to
minimise windthrow potential.
remove unsound trees only where these are a hazard to the
public.
replace trees or other significant vegetation that are
unavoidably or accidentally lost as part of land
development with plants appropriate to the ecosystem,
with preference for replacement by plants salvaged from
disturbed areas of the site.
provide for appropriate management to sustain these
ecosystems and deter invasive non-native species in
consultation with biologists or environmental management
agencies.
consider approaches for maintaining natural disturbance
regimes, and implement such approaches where feasible
and appropriate.
Encourage site plans that locate buildings, infrastructure, other
development an adequate distance away from core woodland
areas in order to maintain tree and forest health.
166 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Development Permits
Additional Guideline Suggestions
for Older Forest Ecosystems
The following guidelines apply where a local government has
authority for the forest area and the land is not Managed Forest
Land designated under the Assessment Act subject to the Private
Land Forest Practices Regulation, portions of the ecosystem have
been included within a Development Permit Area, and land
development is proposed for this area.
Require that land development activities be planned, designed,
and implemented in a manner that will not adversely affect or
disturb older forest ecosystems, including
trees, understorey plants, and other vegetation within the
older forest ecosystem area.
standing dead and dying trees, snags, fallen trees, downed
logs, and similar forest features within the older forest
ecosystem area.
interior forest conditions and habitats, i.e., provide for as
large an area as practical.
Lungwort (Lobaria pulmonaria)
(C. Tunnoch)
natural corridors and connectivity of older forest species
and habitats with important adjacent ecosystems.
natural processes related to disturbance events and
ecological succession.
Require that an environmental site plan be prepared by a
suitably qualified professional to minimise adverse effects on
older forest ecosystems, that would
limit access by humans in order to minimise disturbance.
maintain appropriate vegetation buffers to insulate the
older forest ecosystem from uses that would adversely
affect its ecology.
maintain connectivity and linkages with adjacent sensitive
ecosystems and other habitat areas through the use of
corridors and greenways to minimise fragmentation.
locate and design windward edges of forest stands to
minimise windthrow potential.
implement edge stabilisation treatments to ensure a
windfirm edge, such as feathering, sail pruning, and
topping of unsound trees.
remove unsound trees only where these are a hazard to the
public.
replace trees or other significant vegetation that are
unavoidably or accidentally lost as part of land
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 167
Development Permits
development with plants appropriate to the ecosystem,
with preference for replacement by plants salvaged from
disturbed areas of the site.
deter the spread of invasive non-native species into the
ecosystem.
consider approaches for maintaining natural disturbance
regimes and implement such approaches where feasible
and appropriate.
Bald Eagle (Y)
(J.Grundle)
168 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Development Permits
Recommendations
for Other Important
Ecosystems
Older Second Growth Forest Ecosystems
Older second growth forest ecosystems are most effective as
buffers around sensitive ecosystems. They also provide green space
and wildlife habitat in urban areas and contribute to biodiversity.
Local governments who intend to conserve and protect this
ecosystem on land within their authority and on non Managed
Forest Land subject to the Private Land Forest Practices
Regulation should, where practical, and in co-operation with
landowners
Encourage the maintenance of older second growth forest
cover and ecological functions.
Promote the retention of older second growth forests as
feathered buffers around sensitive ecosystems.
Encourage measures to minimise fragmentation of older
second growth forests by large-scale developments, roads, and
other linear developments, and large-scale clearcutting.
Require where practical, Development Approval Information
that
provides an evaluation of the forest condition and forestry
and wildlife habitat potential of older second growth forest
ecosystem areas.
identifies rare, threatened, and endangered species and
their populations.
identifies the habitats and natural features supporting rare,
threatened, and endangered species and their populations,
such as patches of rare plants, nesting trees or snags, treed
swamps, vernal pools, and seepage areas.
Require, where practical, as a component of the environmental
site plan, development of a forestry management plan that
sustains the older second growth forest ecosystem through
appropriate conservation-oriented forest management
practices after development, where feasible.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 169
Development Permits
protects rare, threatened, and endangered species and their
populations, including their supporting species, habitats, or
natural features.
conserves standing dead and dying trees, fallen trees,
limbs, leaf litter, and soil to provide foraging opportunities
and nesting and denning sites.
Seasonally Flooded Agricultural Field
Ecosystems
With the historical loss of natural wetland ecosystems, seasonally
flooded agricultural field ecosystems are playing an increasingly
important role by providing surrogate wetland habitat for wildlife.
Local governments who intend to conserve and protect these fields
should, where practical, and in co-operation with landowners
Support the maintenance of seasonally flooded field
ecosystems, including related hydrological processes and
associated adjacent habitats when preparing drainage plans.
Support availability of this agricultural land for wildlife.
Support agricultural value and continued active farm use of
fields as farmlands while conserving wildlife values.
Participate in the review of changes in the use of agricultural
land, such as greenhouses, that affect the wildlife potential and
alter hydraulic regimes on farmland.
Support the retention of fields in the Agricultural Land
Reserve, emphasize through agricultural zoning and by
restricting urban encroachment.
Sandhill Cranes
(R. Savannah)
Encourage, where practical and in co-operation with the
landowner, as a component of the environmental site plan, an
agricultural management plan that would achieve the following
after development, where possible
conserves the agricultural value and active use of these
fields as farmlands.
maintains the seasonally flooded field ecosystem and
associated wildlife habitat.
maintains, where possible, existing hydrological conditions
and related hydrologic processes that affect seasonal
flooding, using local control structures.
avoids grading, dyking, field levelling, ditching,
channelling, other drainage improvements, soil removal,
and soil deposition that will reduce or disturb seasonal
flooding processes.
170 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Development Permits
minimises erosion and soil degradation potentials.
minimises or avoids use of chemical fertilisers and
pesticides.
encourages innovative conservation agriculture practices
and voluntary stewardship programs for maintaining
productive farmland and farming operations while
conserving valuable bird and wildlife habitat and
minimising wildlife nuisances and crop damage.
conserves adjacent supporting habitats, such as adjacent
wetlands, riparian areas, woodlands, hedgerows, and other
habitats.
maintains connectivity between seasonally flooded fields
and adjacent supporting habitats.
minimises intrusion of people into farm and wildlife
habitat areas.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 171
Zoning and Other Bylaws
Zoning
See Municipal Act,
sections 903-904
See Municipal Act,
sections 886-889
Zoning bylaws106 regulate how land is developed and used (see
sidebar). Innovative zoning provisions can provide significant
protection to environmentally sensitive resources. A Rural Land
Use Bylaw gives zoning powers to regional districts for areas
outside a municipality (see sidebar). Where appropriate, local
governments can:
Establish setback provisions that require buildings, structures,
or other uses to remain a certain distance from a specified
boundary, such as a property line.
Zoning can also define a specified boundary to be a “siting
circumstance” such as the “high water mark” of a water
body or other legally definable boundary. Setback
provisions can be used to protect stream corridors or other
natural features from development.
A siting circumstance could include definition of a
distance from a specified tree, however, the tree itself
would need protection under development permit, tree
cutting bylaw, or landscaping requirements.
Ensure that zoning categories allow parcel sizes and
dimensions that will enable the establishment of appropriate
setbacks and leave areas in the event of future rezoning or
subdivision.
Create density bonusing zones for residential areas adjacent to
ESAs to allow developers to apply for an increase in density in
exchange for the conservation of a specified amenity, such as
the preservation of substantial area of a development site as a
protected ESA. This allows developers to preserve sensitive
ecosystems in return for designs that increase density in nonsensitive portions of the site.
See Municipal Act,
sections 903 and 904.
Create cluster housing zones for residential areas adjacent to
ESAs to allow a tighter grouping of houses or multiple-unit
buildings on the most buildable portions of a building site in
exchange for retaining a large portion of the land, such as an
ESA, in a natural state.
Encourage the use of bare land strata subdivisions for
residential areas adjacent to ESAs to promote cluster housing
with protection of sensitive site areas as common open space.
106
Stream stewardship guides are an excellent resource for language that
can be used in regulatory bylaws, particularly zoning bylaws.
172 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Zoning and Other Bylaws
Ensure sensitive areas are protected from future development
by conservation covenants in the name of the regional district,
municipality, Islands Trust Fund and/or non-government
environmental or conservation organisations (see sidebar).
See Conservation
Covenants, page 188 for
more information.
Use comprehensive development zones for complex sites in
urban development areas to enable careful site planning for
conservation of sensitive ecosystems.
Continue to implement the flood plain setbacks and regulations
under Section 910 of the Municipal Act.
Subdivision Approvals
Subdivisions are examined under the Land Title Act by a
subdivision approving officer, appointed by the Attorney General.
Approving officers within municipalities are municipal employees.
Outside municipalities, approving officers may be employees of a
regional district, or of the Ministry of Highways and Transportation
where regional districts have not been granted subdivision approval
authority. Subdivision approval provisions require an approving
officer to ensure that subdivisions conform to local government
bylaws such as zoning and subdivision servicing bylaws. However,
approving officers have substantial independent authority to
determine the public interest and specify requirements for
subdivisions. The Land Title Act enables the approving officer to
Use the “protecting the public interest” provisions in the Land
Title Act to conserve sensitive and important ecosystems within
the subdivision approval process. In this situation, a subdivision
approving officer may refuse to approve a subdivision if s/he
considers it to be against the public interest. Case law is
extensive with regard to ‘public interests’ which helps define
the scope of this authority. The Ministry of Environment, Lands
and Parks may review subdivision referrals and develop general
or site specific environmental or conservation recommendations
to subdivision approving authorities.
Make provision, where possible, for retention of sensitive
ecosystems in public ownership as part of neighbourhood and
subdivision designs.
Seek a dedication during subdivision for park or public
open space in order to acquire lands within ESAs, where
possible, and in accordance with section 941 of the
Municipal Act.
Seek a five percent school site dedication provision of the
Municipal Act to provide for school sites, in accordance
with section 942 of the Municipal Act, while recognising
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 173
Zoning and Other Bylaws
opportunities to protect ESAs on school grounds, where
possible, as outdoor classrooms for raising conservation
awareness.
Consider, where appropriate, the use of road and water
body access dedication requirements for provision of
stream and wildlife corridors.
Where acquisition or dedication is not appropriate or possible,
seek the registration of a covenant on land titles to preserve
ESAs. Covenants can be used to require environmental
protection measures such as retaining vegetation, keeping
sensitive areas free of development and in a natural condition,
and installing fencing to restrict access. Covenants can be in
favour of the local government, senior government agency,
land trust and/or a conservation organisation. Covenants must
be enforced to be effective.
Subdivision Servicing
Bylaws
Subdivision servicing bylaws are established under sections 938946 of the Municipal Act. These bylaws set standards and make
requirements for the provision of services, such as access (roads,
sidewalks, trails, transit stops), water, sewer, and storm drainage
systems. To protect sensitive and other important ecosystems,
subdivision servicing bylaws may:
Develop Best Management Practices and guidelines, and
incorporate these into engineering, servicing, construction
standards and requirements, as well as operational procedures
to ensure these are compatible with the preservation,
protection, restoration, and enhancement of sensitive and
important ecosystems. Important functions include stormwater
management, stream protection, vegetation management, and
erosion and sedimentation control.
Require that all public works, including road, utility and park
construction be conducted in a manner that is consistent with
environmental protection of ESAs.
174 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Zoning and Other Bylaws
Stream and Drainage
Policies and Bylaws
The Municipal Act provides significant powers to local
governments to enact stream and drainage policies and bylaws that
may assist in the protection of environmentally sensitive and
important ecosystems. A liquid waste management plan under the
Waste Management Act may also be used to implement some
stormwater management policies and proposed management
practices. Some of these drainage system powers may require
additional authority within electoral areas of regional districts.
Some proposals are subject to the BC Water Act and Canada
Fisheries Act regulations. Local governments can and are
encouraged to
Establish integrated stormwater drainage policies for drainage
facilities and land development activities that
maintain the natural hydrology and natural environment of
watersheds, groundwater, streams, and other water bodies,
including provisions that would help ensure maintenance
of minimum base stream flows.
(D. Gunn)
regulate development work within stream corridors.
Enact or amend a watercourse protection bylaw pursuant to
section 551 of the Municipal Act that restricts anyone from
polluting or obstructing or impeding the flow of a stream,
creek, waterway, watercourse, waterworks, ditch, drain, or
sewer, and imposes penalties for contravention of the
prohibition.
Adopt an open streams policy that will
limit the crossing, confinement, covering, or piping of
watercourses.
identify and establish a program to remove obstacles
impeding movement of fish such as inappropriately
designed culverts and stream crossings.
identify “lost streams” that have been covered by culverts
or other covers, and consider “day-lighting” these lost
streams where practical and feasible.
Enact or amend a runoff control bylaw for areas abutting or
adjacent to ESAs, pursuant to section 907 of the Municipal Act,
to:
establish a maximum percentage of area that can be
covered by impermeable material.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 175
Zoning and Other Bylaws
establish standards for drainage works for the ongoing
disposal of surface runoff and stormwater from paved
areas and roof areas during and after construction.
Enact or amend a parking bylaw to discourage location of
parking areas in ESAs, and regulate surface treatments to
mitigate runoff impacts on sensitive and important ecosystems.
See Municipal Act, section 906.
Tree and Landscaping
Policies and Bylaws
The Municipal Act provides significant powers to local
governments to enact tree and landscaping policies and bylaws that
may assist in the protection of environmentally sensitive
ecosystems. Local governments can and are encouraged to
Enact or amend a Tree Bylaw, pursuant to sections 708-715 of
the Municipal Act (municipalities only), in order to:
designate ESAs as areas for special tree cutting
regulations, as contemplated in section 708.
within these areas, require permits for cutting or removing
of trees, and restrict activities that may damage trees, and
where appropriate, require replacement of trees for trees
that are cut, removed, or damaged as a result of a permit.
define appropriate trees within ESAs as Significant Trees
under the meaning of section 710, and require tree cutting
permits for removal or pruning of these trees.
where removal of a hazardous tree (see Municipal Act,
section 711) is essential within an ESA, require special
care to be exercised to minimise disturbance to
surrounding vegetation, and wildlife and their habitat.
Enact or amend a landscaping bylaw under section 909 of the
Municipal Act in order to
set standards for screening and landscaping for preserving,
protecting, restoring, and enhancing the natural
environment of sensitive and important ecosystems.
regulate the provision of landscaping including the
planting of vegetation where necessary to conserve
sensitive and important ecosystems.
(This bylaw may be a substitute for a tree bylaw in areas
outside of municipalities where tree bylaws cannot be
established except in relation to hazardous conditions.)
176 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Zoning and Other Bylaws
Soils Bylaws
The Municipal Act provides significant powers to local
governments to enact soils policies and bylaws that may assist in
the protection of environmentally sensitive ecosystems. Local
governments can and are encouraged to
Enact or amend a soils bylaw pursuant to section 723 of the
Municipal Act that
regulates soil removal and deposition, including site
grading, in order to ensure that ESAs are protected and
conserved during and after land development and
redevelopment.
ensures that development plans near ESAs include and
implement appropriate designs and procedures for control
of erosion and sedimentation.
where soil movement is approved within or near an ESA,
require special care to be exercised to minimise
disturbance to surrounding vegetation, wildlife and
wildlife habitat.
Animal Control Bylaws
Sections 703-707 of the Municipal Act empower local
governments to enact bylaws for the regulation of animals. These
bylaws may be used to control pets and livestock that could
endanger wildlife or damage vegetation in ESAs and sensitive
ecosystems. The local government may
Regulate or restrict the keeping of dogs, horses, cattle, sheep,
goats, swine, rabbits, or other animals and define areas where
they may or may not be kept. Defined areas could include
ESAs and DPAs.
Require dog owners to keep dogs on leash or under the control
of a competent person while on a highway or public place.
Public place could include publicly owned ESAs and sensitive
areas of public parks, stream corridors, and roadsides.
Regulate or restrict the running of cattle on a highway or
public place; the straying of or trespassing by cattle on a
highway or public place or private property; or grazing of
cattle on unfenced land, unless securely tethered. Private
property could include sensitive areas such as ESAs and
stream corridors.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 177
Partnerships
Partnerships
Stewardship of the environment is everyone’s responsibility. Local
governments can build partnerships with other governments, nongovernment organisations, and the public by
Providing leadership for the development of a long term
strategy to acquire priority ESAs, including
acquiring and preserving ESAs as part of local parks
programs.
identifying acquisition priorities in co-operation with nongovernment and government conservation organisations.
identifying priorities for protection through development
permit, rezoning, subdivision, and other regulations.
Adopting a bylaw under section 343 of the Municipal Act to
exempt eligible riparian property from property taxes where a
property is subject to a conservation covenant under section
219 of the Land Title Act. Providing information on property
tax incentives for protecting riparian land through conservation
covenants where this bylaw has been adopted.
Directing landowners to sources of advice about federal tax
benefits for ecological gifts.
Implementing stewardship awareness programs, in cooperation with senior governments, local conservation
organisations, and schools, to increase public awareness and
support for conservation of sensitive and important ecosystems
and existing ESAs, and to promote active stewardship and
restoration activities.
Encouraging individuals and community organisations to be
involved in managing sensitive ecosystems, restoring and
enhancing native habitats, planting native vegetation and
appropriate trees, preventing erosion, establishing conservation
covenants, promoting proper use and disposal of polluting
chemicals, installing signs to inform and educate the public,
monitoring misuse of sensitive ecosystems, and advocating
conservation and protection of sensitive ecosystems. Initiating
a landowner contact program, in concert with conservation
organisations, can be an effective way of educating property
owners about the ecological functions and sensitivity of their
land.
Encouraging land developers to use environmentally sensitive
site designs, construction procedures, and landscaping methods
that avoid or minimise impacts on the functions and conditions
of sensitive and important ecosystems.
178 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Partnerships
Endorsing and supporting the efforts of community
organisations, landowners, and others to identify, acquire, and
protect sensitive and important ecosystems. Encouraging
restoration and enhancement measures that are carried out
under appropriate authority and guidelines.
Encouraging and educating pet owners to control pets that prey
on or disturb birds, small mammals, or other species.
Co-operating with provincial and federal government programs
to protect sensitive and important ecosystems, and fish and
wildlife habitat. Consider supplementing municipal
environmental policies with environmental and sustainable
development guidelines of federal, provincial, and regional
government agencies.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 179
What Landowners and Citizens Can Do
Typically, stewardship organisations are involved in hands-on management, protection, rehabilitation
or enhancement of habitat. They also raise public interest and awareness about significant local
sensitive ecosystems and are seen as potential “eyes and ears” of government for reporting threats
to habitat. (Photo: Faye Smith)
180 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
15 What Landowners and Citizens Can Do
L
ocal and senior government policies, legislation and their
enforcement are just part of the equation when conserving
sensitive ecosystems on eastern Vancouver Island and the
Gulf Islands. Implementing all the measures necessary to secure
environmentally sensitive areas (ESA) protection is limited by the
availability of public financial assistance and concerns by private
property owners over regulation of their land. The voluntary efforts
of landowners and citizens are therefore essential to the
conservation and enhancement of sensitive and other important
ecosystems. Described below are several conservation related
initiatives that landowners and other citizens can undertake.
The real substance of
conservation lies not in the
physical projects of
government, but in the
mental processes of its
citizens.
– Aldo Leopold107
Learn about the Natural
Environment
The value of education about environmentally sensitive areas
cannot be emphasised strongly enough, as it is the foundation of all
private land protection tools. For some sensitive ecosystems,
education about its importance and conservation methods may be
the only available means to secure some measure of its protection.
Education also helps generate a constituency of concerned citizens
and landowners who may then be motivated to secure the
protection of a sensitive ecosystem through purchase or other legal
mechanisms. Finally, education about the ESA is necessary for its
successful long-term protection, as protection through a legal
mechanism is only useful if it is respected. If it is not respected,
then the legal tool may only be useful in determining the liability
and damages to be awarded for the destruction of the ESA.
At the end of this manual there are a number of references, such as
the publications in the Stewardship Series, which are useful for
expanding the understanding of ESAs.
107
Aldo Leopold, father of the land ethic.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 181
What Landowners and Citizens Can Do
Join or Create a
Stewardship Organisation,
Land Trust or Advocacy
Group
People may first learn about sensitive ecosystems or through the
activities of a stewardship organisation in their neighbourhood.
Generally, stewardship organisations and land trusts are non-profit
and frequently non-political organisations dedicated to protecting
specific sites, specific species or habitat types, or sensitive
environmental areas in general. Advocacy groups are non-profit
organisations generally established to raise awareness within
government, industry and the public on conservation issues. All of
these types of groups may range from very loose-knit “Friends
of....” clubs to formal, registered charitable organisations.
Stewardship Organisations
Great Horned Owl
(R. Savannah)
Stewardship organisations include a broad spectrum of groups both
charitable and non-charitable as well as formal and informal.
Typically, stewardship organisations are involved in hands-on
management, protection, rehabilitation or enhancement of habitat.
Some stewardship organisations, such as the Garry Oak Meadow
Preservation Society, may also qualify as holders of conservation
covenants on land. A conservation covenant is a voluntary, written
legal agreement in which a landowner promises to protect his/her
land in specified ways pursuant to Section 219 of the Land Title
Act. Further discussion regarding conservation covenants is found
later in this chapter.
Stewardship organisations raise public interest and awareness about
significant local ESAs through a number of means: establishing
festivals, e.g. the Brant Festival, Camas Flower Day and Salmon
Days; distributing native plants; holding public information and
educational forums; and conducting broom bashes, among other
activities.
Senior governments have long recognised the important
contribution of non-government stewardship organisations
undertaking activities to enhance the environment. There are now
federal, provincial and some local government grants to help
support these organisations. Stewardship organisations are also seen
182 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
What Landowners and Citizens Can Do
as potential “eyes and ears” of government for reporting threats to
habitat.108
Appendix B provides a list of government and non-government
organisations active in the conservation of lands in the SEI study
area. If there is not already a suitable organisation in your area, a
helpful publication from the Stewardship Series is Community
Stewardship: A Guide to Establishing Your Own Group.109
Land Trusts
Land Trusts are not “trusts” in the legal sense but they fulfil a form
of public trust by holding an interest in land, or owning land and
preserving it for future generations. Land trusts have been active in
Great Britain and the United States for more than 100 years. In
Canada, they are a more recent phenomenon, but have been
growing rapidly, particularly in British Columbia.110
See Appendix B for a list of
land trusts and conservancies
active in the SEI study area.
To raise funds through charitable donations and become registered
landowners, land trusts are required to meet more formal
requirements than typical stewardship organisations. Nevertheless,
how they achieve their objectives may vary depending on the
resources, culture and experience of the land trust. The spectrum of
activities of land trusts can be characterised by three active land
trusts in British Columbia: The Nature Trust of British Columbia,
the Islands Trust Fund and the Cowichan Community Land Trust
Society.
The Nature Trust of British Columbia was established by the
federal government in 1971 as a charitable federal corporation
with an endowment of $4.5 million to mark the centenary of
British Columbia’s entry into Confederation. Since that date,
The Nature Trust has purchased or formed partnerships to
purchase more than $26 million in protected land in British
Columbia including a number of parcels and significant estuary
lands, in the SEI study area. The Nature Trust leases most of its
holdings in the SEI area to the British Columbia Ministry of
Environment, Lands and Parks on long-term leases. The
provincial government is responsible for the day-to-day
management of most Nature Trust properties.
The Islands Trust Fund Board is a conservation land trust
created by the Islands Trust Act, whose mandate is to preserve
and protect the Islands Trust Area and its significant features
and environment for the benefit of the island residents and the
Province generally. The Islands Trust Fund works with
108
Dovetail Consultants Ltd. 1996.
Fraser Basin Management Program 1995.
110
See Appendix B for a list of land trusts.
109
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 183
What Landowners and Citizens Can Do
interested landowners, local groups, non-government
organisations and the government to facilitate and achieve
conservation of key sites within the Islands Trust Area. This is
done, in part, through land acquisitions and conservation
covenants. The Islands Trust Fund currently owns seven nature
reserves, and holds a number of conservation covenants,
protecting approximately 400 acres (160 hectares) for their
natural, historic, recreational and/or scenic values. Examples
of acquisitions and other initiatives include
In partnership with the Nanaimo and Area Land Trust and
The Land Conservancy of BC, the Islands Trust Fund
negotiated an agreement to purchase an entire SEI site,
South Winchelsea Island, a 10.4 hectare island located
north of Nanaimo.
The McFadden Creek Heronry project on Salt Spring
Island now protects a 5 hectare (12 acre) SEI site with 118
nests, the largest protected heronry in both the Georgia
Basin and SEI study area. Three groups actively worked to
secure this heronry for conservation purposes - the Islands
Trust Fund, the Wild Bird Trust of BC and the Salt Spring
Island Waterbird Watch Collective.
A third initiative involved the partnership of the Islands
Trust Fund, the Friends of Brooks Point, Capital Regional
District Parks, The Nature Conservancy of Canada,
Pender Islands Conservancy Association and several other
partners to acquire Brooks Point on South Pender Island.
This 4 hectare (10 acre) SEI site is a coastal headland
containing old forest, grasslands, and coastal bluffs that
provide habitat for rare plants and over 100 species of
birds.
CCLT landowner
contact program
In addition to its own land trust work, the Islands Trust Fund
assists local conservancies and land trusts working in the
Islands Trust Area in furthering their conservation objectives
by providing information, partnering, and where possible
helping with organisational and technical assistance.
CCLT provides
landowners with maps
showing the location of
SEI sites on their land
and invites owners to
discuss the range of
options available to them
for conservation of the
sensitive ecosystems on
their land.
The Cowichan Community Land Trust Society (CCLT)
grew out of a concern for the rapid development in the
Cowichan Valley during the 1990s. CCLT does not hold land
and is only just beginning to secure interests in land through
conservation covenants. To date its primary purpose has been
to promote land stewardship through education and public
incentives such as “Land Steward” awards and designations
(see sidebar). Caring for Our Shores: A Handbook for Coastal
Landowners in the Strait of Georgia111 is a recent publication
111
Cowan et al. 1998.
184 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
What Landowners and Citizens Can Do
that exemplifies the approach of this land trust in securing the
preservation of the Cowichan Valley’s natural heritage.
Memberships, private donations and grants provide funding for
CCLT.
The rapidly expanding number of land trusts as well as the
growing number of stewardship organisations engaged in land trust
activities, has prompted the establishment of an umbrella
organisation to share expertise and information to assist the
activities of these organisations. The Land Trust Alliance of
British Columbia had its formal inaugural convention in March
1998 and as part of the event provided a forum for a number of US
and Canadian land trust and stewardship experts to make
presentations.
Varied Thrush
(M. Hames)
The tools that land trusts use (see below for a discussion of tools)
to protect ESAs vary according to the resources and culture of the
organisation. They also vary according to
the circumstances of the ESA: the type of landowner, e. g.,
institutional, private land or corporate ownership.
the type of ESA values: pristine wilderness, older second
growth forest.
the location of the ESA: near high density urban development,
low density agricultural land, etc.
the ESA land’s current use (open space, farm, industrial
surplus, etc.).
the potential for donor interest in the land.
Advocacy Groups
Stewardship organisations and land trusts are advocates for their
causes but advocacy groups do not typically own land for
conservation or carry out stewardship activities. Their focus is on
raising awareness, raising funds and creating public opinion to
encourage the protection of sensitive environmental areas.
Advocacy groups can raise concerns and argue the case for
protection of environmentally sensitive areas where a senior or
local government has the authority to protect the area on private
land but has made a decision not to do so.
Advocacy groups fill an important niche in sensitive environmental
area protection by allowing stewardship organisations and land
trusts to pursue their activities, unaligned with one position or
another in a contested land use debate. Traditionally, support for
advocacy groups comes from a smaller spectrum of committed
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 185
What Landowners and Citizens Can Do
members and donors that support the mission and strategies
adopted by the organisation.
Participate in your Local
Government
Making the significant commitment of running for a position in the
local government may be a step very few people are willing to take.
There are, however, many ways for landowners and citizens to
participate in local government land use decision-making.
Speaking at Council meetings or public hearings, volunteering for
appointment to a local government Environmental Advisory
Committee or an Advisory Planning Commission, or offering
expertise on an informal basis to these agencies, allow landowners
and citizens to provide informed recommendations to Council on
matters that are referred to the Committee or Commission.
Be a Good Steward of Your
Own Land
Red-legged frog
(B. Penn)
Landowners can help protect ESAs by learning about the natural
values of their own land, rehabilitating the landscape and protecting
its natural values. Information on stewardship is available from
groups and sources in Appendix A. A significant publication to
assist landowners is the Naturescape Series: Caring for Wildlife
Habitat at Home.112 This publication includes ways to enhance
wildlife habitat on small properties and even apartment balconies.
112
Naturescape British Columbia 1995.
186 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
What Landowners and Citizens Can Do
Consider Legal Tools for
the Long-term Protection
of ESAs
Land trust or stewardship organisations may be able to help
landowners establish longer term and more secure means of
protecting environmentally sensitive areas on their land. Some
examples of private legal tools for ESA protection include:
Handshake Agreements
Handshake agreements are verbal undertakings by landowners with
a land trust or stewardship organisation to carry out activities on
their land so that ESAs are not harmed and/or the wildlife attracted
to the land is accommodated.
One example of such an arrangement is that between the Delta
Farmland and Wildlife Trust (DFWT) and some Lower Fraser River
Delta farmers. Through funding from Environment Canada, Delta
Agricultural Society, Ducks Unlimited Canada and the B.C.
Waterfowl Society, the DFWT is able to provide financial incentives
to farmers to establish hedgerows, plant natural grasses, and grow
winter cover crops for food for over-wintering wildlife. There is not
only the benefit to the farmers and society at large in controlling
soil erosion but a significant advantage to wildlife.
The Cowichan Community Land Trust Society, as mentioned above,
has encouraged handshake agreements with riparian habitat owners
and others in the Cowichan Valley through public incentives such as
“Land Steward” awards and designations.
Land Management Agreements
Swan Lake Christmas Hill Sanctuary Society does not hold title or
covenants to land but has operated a 58-hectare nature sanctuary in
the midst of the rapidly expanding area around Greater Victoria
under a land management agreement with the primary owner, the
Municipality of Saanich. The municipality also provides a baseline
operating budget for staff and a Nature House, supplemented by
private donations, native plant sales and other fund-raising activities.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 187
What Landowners and Citizens Can Do
The mission of the Society is to “foster an understanding and
appreciation of nature through direct experiences that will develop
personal responsibility for the care and protection of the natural
environment” and it has pursued that mission with greatsuccess.
Land management agreements are not just for publicly owned land.
They may also be arranged for private lands where the landowner is
prepared to allow the encouragement of wildlife and native
vegetation but is not yet prepared to adopt more protective measures,
such as a conservation covenant, that will restrict the uses of that
land.
Conservation Covenants
For a more detailed
discussion of conservation
covenants, see
“Leaving a Living Legacy:
Using Conservation
Covenants in BC”.113
A conservation covenant is a voluntary, written agreement between a
landowner and another person, or more typically, an organisation,
where the landowner undertakes to protect certain natural values of
the land.114 It provides stronger protection for an ESA than land
management agreements because they give the organisation an
interest in the land that is registered in the Land Title Office and is
binding on anyone who may own the land in the future.
Conservation covenants, known in the United States as conservation
easements, have been used for more than a century to protect
environmentally sensitive areas. Their chief advantage is that
conservation objectives can be achieved, at significantly less cost, by
limiting the use of land without eliminating all use of the land.
A conservation covenant may provide tax advantages to the
landowner. If it can be shown that registration of a conservation
covenant has reduced the property value through the restrictions on
its use (under the provisions of the B.C. Assessment Act), then the
covenanting organisation (if it is a registered charitable organisation)
may provide the landowner with a charitable receipt for the
difference in the land value. The landowner has, in effect, made a
charitable donation that provides a tax credit to reduce the income
tax payable by the landowner. This tax credit can be carried over tax
years to prolong the impact of the gift.115
113
Andrews and Loukidelis 1996 (See Appendix A: Stewardship
Publications).
114
Land Title Act, RSBC 1996 c. 250, section 219. Under the terms of the
conservation covenant, the interest granted may allow public access or it
may limit access to the organization for the sole purpose of monitoring of
the covenant.
115
The tax considerations and the structuring of charitable gifts of land
and interests in land can be complex depending on the circumstances of the
landowner and on the nature of the gift. Competent tax advice is essential
in order for the landowner to see the greatest benefit from their generosity.
188 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
What Landowners and Citizens Can Do
Similarly, property taxes in British Columbia are based on the
“actual value”, typically the market value, of a parcel of land. If it
can be demonstrated that the property value is reduced by the
restrictions of a registered conservation covenant then the
landowner will also have the benefit of reduced property taxes after
the registration of the conservation covenant.
Under revisions to the Municipal Act adopted in 1997,116 there is
also specific provision for the reduction of property taxes by
councils and regional district boards for covenants established in
eligible riparian areas. This, however, is at the discretion of local
governments.
Perhaps the sole disadvantage of conservation covenants is their
continued enforcement. A landowner that initiates a conservation
covenant may dispose of the land to family members or sell to
others who may have different views about the land’s intended use.
Threats to the ESA may require more frequent monitoring of the
conservation covenant area to ensure the ESAs protection. A
program of landowner contact and education is an important means
of ensuring compliance with the objectives of the covenant without
the organisation having to resort to a costly court action for
enforcement of the conservation covenant.
Land trusts and stewardship organisations (if designated by the
Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks) are entitled to hold
conservation covenants.117 Holding covenants is less costly to the
organisations than holding land but there are costs: surveying the
land, drafting the covenant, registering it on title and monitoring the
covenanted area to ensure compliance. Land trusts and stewardship
organisations usually have priorities for habitats they want to
protect.118
116
Municipal Act, RSBC 1996, c.323, s.343.1 and s.845.1, effective
October 31, 1997. The council or regional district board must also be a
covenantee of the conservation covenant.
117
Land Title Act, c. 250, section 219(3).
118
In the United States, it is not uncommon for land trusts to require that
the landowner undertake the survey and legal expenses for the
establishment of a conservation covenant and provide a donation for
monitoring the covenant.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 189
What Landowners and Citizens Can Do
Other Interests in Land
Land ownership in British Columbia is akin to owning a bundle of
rights to use and occupy land. As a human invention, there are
consequently many creative methods of granting rights that may
also provide protection for an ESA.
Land law can be a complex area. Landowners may receive valuable
information and assistance from land trusts, stewardship
organisations or advocacy groups in sorting through the options
available to them, but ultimately landowners must assume the
responsibility for protecting their interests and realising their
wishes by seeking the advice of legal counsel. The intent in this
section is therefore merely to alert the reader to the existence of
other types of interests that may be granted by a landowner, short
of granting land outright or providing a conservation covenant.
For example, a landowner may grant a life estate in the land to his
or her children with the remainder given to a conservation
organisation. This means that the landowner gives the right to use
and occupy the land to his or her children until their death. During
their lifetime, the children are responsible for looking after the land
and are restricted from diminishing the value of the land.119 After
the children’s death, the conservation organisation becomes the
landowner.
Another illustration is the ability of a landowner to grant an interest
to someone to enter the land and remove something from it. This
right, called a profit à prendre, was used in earlier times to provide
security to someone to remove hay or harvest trees on a property.
For conservation purposes, however, a landowner could grant a
profit à prendre to a conservation organization so that the
conservation organization has the sole right to remove the trees—
something it will never exercise. The landowner and any
subsequent landowners would nevertheless be restricted from
removing the trees.
119
It would be prudent for the grant of a life estate to explain the specific
rights and obligations of the life tenant and to allow for the remainderman
to monitor the land.
190 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
What Landowners and Citizens Can Do
Donate Land
Landowners may take the greatest step of securing the legal
protection of an ESA by donating that land to a land trust,
stewardship organisation or government by deed or by will. To
ensure the continued protection of the land if the organisation ceases
to exist or the government does not honour the intent of the gift, the
landowner may provide that another larger land trust or other
organisation hold a conservation covenant on the land or that the
other organisation assume ownership of the land should certain
conditions occur.120
Tax Advantages
There are, of course, tax advantages to landowners donating land to
a registered charitable organisation or to government. Like land law,
however, the tax issues surrounding donations of land can be
complex. Issues such as capital gains, gifts of “ecologically
significant lands” and other issues require landowners to seek the
advice of a tax expert to pursue the best options for their particular
circumstances (see sidebar).121
See Giving it Away: Tax
Implications of Gifts to
Protect Private Land.
For general information on legal tools available to a landowner, a
very helpful publication from the Stewardship Series122 is
Stewardship Options For Private Landowners in British
Columbia.123 For greater detail on the options available to
landowners, see Here Today, Here Tomorrow: Legal Tools for the
Voluntary Protection of Private Land in British Columbia.124
Make a Charitable Donation
In addition to donating land or an interest in land such as a
conservation covenant, landowners and citizens may donate cash,
goods, services or leave money in a will to an organization dedicated
to protecting ESAs. Most land trusts, stewardship organisations and
advocacy groups are dependent upon the support of private
donations and the volunteer services of their members. From the
point of view of these organisations, there is no gift too small. Every
contribution makes a difference to the protection of ESAs.
120
This is also often done in the case of conservation covenants. A local
land trust or stewardship organization may hold the covenant but an
alternative land trust or other organization is specified should the local
group fail. This often referred to as “cross-covenanting”.
121
Hillier and Atkins, 2000.
122
See Appendix A: Stewardship Publications.
123
Ministry of Environment Lands and Parks 1996. (See Appendix A)
124
findlay and Hillyer 1994 (see Appendix A).
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 191
16 What Senior Governments Can Do
W
hereas this manual focuses on the tools available to local
governments and private landowners, the following
section provides an introduction to the range of
provincial and federal legislation that may be used to protect
sensitive and other important ecosystems in the SEI study area. The
Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia have
a responsibility to protect and manage the environment using a
broad range of legislated powers. Some are directed at specific
resources such as the federal Fisheries Act and the provincial Fish
Protection, Wildlife and Water Acts, whereas others address broader
environmental issues through assessment or process requirements.
In general, wetlands and riparian ecosystems are most effectively
protected under federal or provincial laws (e.g., Federal Fisheries
Act, B.C. Water Act, B.C. Fish Protection Act). Forested
ecosystems on provincial Crown land are also afforded considerable
management emphasis under the Forest Practices Code of B.C. Act
and those on Managed Forest Lands are subject to the Private Land
Forest Practices Regulation. However, there are few provisions
aimed specifically at maintaining or protecting forested ecosystems
elsewhere. Other SEI ecosystem types including sparsely vegetated,
coastal bluff, and seasonally flooded agricultural field ecosystems
have fewer legislative policies or laws available for their protection,
although the Wildlife Act and the Fisheries Act can be used for
some of these ecosystems in certain circumstances.
Because of the paramountcy principle under the Canadian
Constitution, which gives more senior levels of government powers
over lower levels of government, the Parliament of Canada has and
uses powers that supersede provincial and local government
powers. Provincial powers that override local powers are usually
stated as such in legislation. Another principle—‘occupied field’—
means that where a higher order of government does not use its
powers and the lower level chooses to do so under its legislation, it
may do so even if primary jurisdiction rests at a higher level.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 193
What Senior Governments Can Do
Some of the strongest legislation for environmental protection is the
responsibility of the Government of Canada and Province of British
Columbia. However, the provincial government has primary
jurisdiction over land use decisions. As well, Fisheries and Oceans
Canada, Environment Canada, B.C. Ministry of Environment,
Lands and Parks, and B.C. Ministry of Forests have expertise,
information and other resources that may be useful in identifying
and conserving sensitive ecosystems.
Federal Legislation
Fisheries Act
Fish habitat is defined as:
“spawning grounds and
nursery, rearing, food supply
and migration areas on which
fish depend either directly or
indirectly in order to carry out
their life processes.”
Canada Fisheries Act Sec
34(1)
The Federal government has a legislated responsibility for Canada’s
fisheries. A key component of this responsibility is the protection of
fish and fish habitat (see sidebar). This definition is applied to
streams, rivers, intertidal areas, estuarine marshes, wetlands, and
riparian areas. All of these habitats may be found in SEI ecosystem
types. The Fisheries Act allows for protected or restorative
management to maintain the productive capacity of fish habitat.
This entails review and authorisation of development proposals that
have the potential to affect fish habitat, as well as requirements for
compensatory mechanisms to off-set the unavoidable destruction of
fish habitat. To do so requires authorisation under the Fisheries Act.
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
(CEAA)
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) is designed
to ensure thorough assessment of large scale projects that have the
potential to affect the environment prior to approval. Only projects
requiring certain federal approvals or authorisations, granting an
interest in federal land, receiving federal funding, or proposed by a
federal department or agency are addressed by CEAA. The Province
of B.C. has a provincially based environmental assessment act with
much the same purpose, and there is currently a harmonisation
agreement in place to reduce overlap between the two processes. If
both CEAA and the B.C. Environmental Assessment Act (BCEAA)
are triggered, then the BCEAA process is used to address CEAA
requirements with the addition of outstanding issues only addressed
by CEAA.
The SEI is a tool that is used in the CEAA process to identify areas
of concern that CEAA must address. For example, the Canadian
Wildlife Service will provide expert advice to a responsible
194 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
What Senior Governments Can Do
authority under CEAA recommending that impacts to SEI sites due
to a project, be avoided or minimised.
CEAA screenings are triggered irrespective of scale. The depth of
the review varies with scale, but the legislative process is the same.
Not all projects under the federal mandate are subject to CEAA.
CEAA uses a screening process to identify projects for which
environmental impacts are likely. Routine activities such as channel
dredging may not require a full assessment. Many urban fish
habitat issues are encompassed by CEAA, but are addressed at a
local or regional level under provisions of the Fisheries Act which
allow for review and comment prior to approval.
Because of federal responsibility under the Fisheries Act, wetland
and riparian ecosystems are the most likely ecosystem types to be
affected by CEAA. The Fisheries Act will be the most significant
trigger for the CEAA in the SEI study area. Large scale projects on
military bases would also be screened. Failure of the Department of
Fisheries to utilise its powers under the Fisheries Act can trigger a
challenge under CEAA.
Canada Wildlife Act
The Canada Wildlife Act enables the federal government to do
wildlife research and interpretation and to designate National
Wildlife Areas (NWA) for conservation purposes. One of the five
NWAs in British Columbia is in the SEI study area—the Qualicum
National Wildlife Area—which comprises three distinct
geographical units:
Nanoose Bay Unit—34 hectares (ha) of estuarine and upland
habitats at the head of Nanoose Harbour;
Barred Owl
(M. Hames)
Marshall-Stevenson Unit—66 ha of prime estuarine and mature
riparian habitats at the mouth of the Little Qualicum River; and
Rosewall Creek Unit—54 ha of sheltered marine bay and
estuary at Mud Bay on Baynes Sound.
Migratory Birds Convention Act
This Act is primarily concerned with regulating the hunting and use
of migratory birds in Canada. Regulations pursuant to the Act
restrict the disturbance or destruction of nests, eggs and shelters of
migratory birds, except in accordance with a permit. Three of the
seven Migratory Bird Sanctuaries in British Columbia are located
in the SEI study area:
Esquimalt Lagoon—130 ha of tidal lagoon, marine spit and
coastal forest;
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 195
What Senior Governments Can Do
Victoria Harbour—1700 ha of foreshore and tidal channels;
and
Shoal Harbour—150 ha of shallow marine bay and tidal
mudflats.
Provincial Legislation
The Municipal Act in its
own right and in relation to
other statutes is a complex
legal area, which cannot be
addressed effectively in this
manual.
Municipal Act
Under the Municipal Act, local governments125 have extensive
powers over the use, development, and servicing of private land as
well as those provincial Crown lands which are subject to private
tenures under the B.C. Land Act, for example, foreshore and water
lot leases for moorage and aquaculture (see Section 4.1). However,
these powers have limited application in the Agricultural or the
Forest Land Reserves, and no application (except with respect to
servicing under special agreements) to areas under federal
legislative jurisdiction, such as National Wildlife Areas, Indian
Reserves and Department of National Defence lands.
The following should be considered when looking to local
governments to protect environmentally sensitive areas.
Black bear
Although local governments do not have primary mandates for
natural resource management, their land use, development
approval and servicing (e.g., water supply, liquid and solid
waste disposal) decisions can be used to protect, restore,
maintain and enhance ecosystems and resource productivity.
Or, by not considering and acting on these interests, local
governments can be party to their loss.
(R. Savannah)
Local governments cannot restrict the use of land to a public
use without triggering compensation claims. Thus local
governments cannot be expected to use their regulatory tools
on behalf of provincial or federal interests to the extent that
this would trigger compensation claims.
125
There are several types of local government in the study area and
official community plans for some of these require provincial approval:
municipalities - which may be cities, towns, district municipalities and
villages (official community plans do not require provincial approval);
regional districts - which are comprised of municipalities and
unincorporated electoral areas (electoral area official community plans
require provincial approval);
Islands Trust - which is established by the Islands Trust Act, and crossreferenced to the Municipal Act with respect to land use and development
control powers (official community plans require provincial approval).
196 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
What Senior Governments Can Do
Local governments are comprised of locally elected
representatives who have, with the exceptions noted above,
autonomous authority to give priority to community interests.
In this regard, environmental interests are among a range of
diverse and competing priorities such as housing, commercial
and industrial development, and transportation. The priority
each of these receives is related to a variety of factors—a
primary one being community based values—in other words,
the importance residents place on these values.
Regional Growth Strategies
Part 25 of the Municipal Act contains provisions for the
preparation of regional growth strategies by Regional Districts.
Growth strategies are optional. A regional growth strategy is a
regional vision that commits affected municipalities and regional
districts to a course of action to meet common social, economic
and environmental objectives. It must also contain population and
employment projections. Section 849 of the Municipal Act sets out
the purposes and goals of a regional growth strategy. One of these
goals is to protect environmentally sensitive areas. The strategy is
initiated by a regional district and prepared through a broad
consultative process specified in legislation. Prior to enactment it is
referred to all affected local governments for acceptance. Section
850 of the Act outlines the content of a regional growth strategy. A
regional growth strategy is not mandatory, but should a regional
district decide to prepare one, it must have a planning horizon of at
least 20 years.
A Regional Context Statement forms part of a municipality’s
Official Community Plan that sets out the relationship between the
Regional Growth Strategy and the municipality’s OCP. An OCP
for electoral areas must be consistent with the Regional Growth
Strategy. The statement is prepared by the municipality and
referred to the regional district for acceptance. An Implementation
Agreement is a partnership agreement between a regional district
and its member municipalities and/or other orders of government,
their agencies or other bodies. These agreements spell out the
details of how certain aspects of a Regional Growth Strategy will
be carried out. For example, an agreement may relate to the
construction and funding of new or upgraded highways, sewers,
regional parks or hospitals.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 197
What Senior Governments Can Do
Water Act
The Water Act regulates the use of surface water and for changes
in and about streams. Licences or approvals are required from the
Regional Water Manager, Ministry of Environment, Lands and
Parks (MELP) or alternatively the Comptroller of Water Rights.
The Water Act provides for regulations to require Notification for
many routine works constructed in or around streams.
Wildlife Act
River otter
(L. Friis)
The Wildlife Act is intended to address the protection and
management of wildlife species in B.C. However, in reality it
focuses on a relatively small group of designated endangered
species, Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) , and the management
of recreational hunting. In addition, it provides a mechanism
through which land acquisition can be funded and administered.
Designated endangered species under the Wildlife Act include the
Vancouver Island marmot, burrowing owl, and white pelican; none
of which reside in the SEI study area. The only WMA in the SEI
study is:
Parksville - Qualicum Beach WMA - 873 ha stretching along
17km of intertidal foreshore.
The Wildlife Act also specifies no disturbance of beaver dams and
muskrat dens without approval, except where drainage is
threatened. Bird nests are also protected. The nests of eagle,
peregrine falcon, gyrfalcon, osprey, heron and burrowing owl are
protected throughout the year; all other birds’ nests are protected
when occupied by a bird or egg (i.e., during the spring or early
summer in coastal B.C.).
Protection or management of SEI ecosystem types through the
Wildlife Act would occur if it were in a WMA, or contained the nest
of a raptor or heron. However, if there is sufficient scientific
justification and public support for acquisition of a sensitive
ecosystem for wildlife values, then the Wildlife Act should be
considered as a means of acquiring and protecting important
ecosystems.
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What Senior Governments Can Do
Land Act
The Land Act enables the province to manage, regulate, or dispose
of Crown lands. All lands that are sold, leased, occupied, or granted
an easement for, through the British Columbia Assets and Land
Corporation (BCAL) may be referred to other agencies for review
and comment. The B.C. Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks
and the Department of Federal Fisheries and Oceans routinely
review and make recommendations on the proposed terms of land
disposition. However, the final land use decision rests with BCAL.
In the SEI area, land is primarily privately owned and therefore is
not subject to this Act. However, coastal inter-tidal areas and water
surfaces are subject to the Land Act. Therefore, many foreshore
structures such as wharves, docks, piers, seawalls, etc. require
approval by BCAL and could be subject to SEI conservation
guidelines.
Environmental Assessment Act (BCEAA)
The purpose of the B.C. Environmental Assessment Act is to assess
the potential environmental, economic, heritage, health, and social
effects arising from a broad range of large scale projects. BCEAA
only addresses projects under provincial responsibility. Forestry
related projects are not generally included as they are addressed by
the Forest Practices Code. Where both BCEAA and CEAA interests
may apply, a joint assessment process can be initiated.
BCEAA covers major projects including mines, waste disposal,
energy projects such as power generation plants, pipelines,
transmission lines, tourism projects, and transportation related
projects (e.g., public highways). Large scale urban developments
may also be subject to BCEAA review. Project size or ‘threshold’ is
an important factor; the BCEAA is intended to address large scale
projects with significant potential to affect the environment.
BCEAA has the potential to increase protection of all SEI ecosystem
types if they are threatened by a large scale project such as a new
highway. However, much of the ecosystem loss in the SEI is due to
the incremental damage caused by many small developments and
activities that are not encompassed by BCEAA.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 199
What Senior Governments Can Do
Agricultural Land Reserve Act
The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) Act protects farmland from
conversion to non-agricultural use. ALR lands are regulated by the
Agricultural Land Commission.
The ALR ensures that farmland is maintained as large parcels that
are economically viable for food production. The Municipal Act
contains provisions which affect local governments’ jurisdiction with
respect to farm practises in the ALR.
The primary use of the ALR Act in terms of SEI ecosystem types is
to maintain seasonally flooded agricultural fields by encouraging
active farming and discouraging or preventing conversion to other
land uses such as housing. The ALR does allow for compatible uses
including wildlife habitat and nature reserves.
Forest Land Reserve Act
The Forest Land Reserve (FLR) Act protects privately owned
“managed” or Crown forest land from conversion to non-forestry
use.
The Forest Land Reserve consists of Crown Land and private land,
other than agricultural reserve land that is classified under the
Assessment Act as Managed Forest Land.
Owl feather
(R. Savannah)
The land is regulated by the Forest Land Commission. The objective
of the legislation is to “protect the integrity of the working forest
land base by minimising the impact of urban development and rural
area settlement on forest reserve land, encourage responsible forest
practices on forest land and to promote conditions favourable for
investment in private land forest management.”
The FLR restricts the use of land to certain purposes, namely
forestry, forage production, recreation, water management, fish,
wildlife and biodiversity management and mineral exploration or
development.
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What Senior Governments Can Do
Fish Protection Act
The Fish Protection Act, passed in 1997, is designed to increase the
protection and management of fisheries by the Provincial
Government. However, at time of writing, only some powers are
enacted. The legislation addresses improving water allocation policy
and procedures to ensure adequate flows are maintained for fish,
improving riparian protection on private land and promoting
enhanced watershed planning. The specifics for many of these
actions are still being developed. The Fish Protection Act has several
objectives:
To ensure adequate water for fish. This entails better licensing
of withdrawals, and allowing stewardship groups to hold water
licenses for maintaining flows for fish.
Chinook salmon
(R. Savannah)
To protect and restore fish habitat. These provisions include
developing recovery plans for sensitive streams and offering
incentives for conservation covenants on private land. Seven
streams have recently (March 2000) been designated as
“sensitive streams” within the SEI study area. These streams are
Black Creek, Englishman River, French Creek, Fulford Creek,
Goldstream River, Little Qualicum River and Little River.
Riparian protection, particularly in urban areas (The Forest
Practices Code is the analogue on Crown forest lands). The
Streamside Stewardship Directive is controversial and remains
under development. It should specify conditions for enhancing
riparian protection along streams and wetlands. This directive
may provide the most useful tool for the conservation of some
types of SEI ecosystems under the Fish Protection Act.
Enhanced Watershed Planning. The Act also provides for
enhanced watershed planning in “sensitive stream” watersheds,
which should be of assistance to the wetland and riparian
ecosystems. At time of writing, Black Creek has been selected as
a pilot for the “sensitive stream” recovery plan process.
To strengthen environmental protection by local
governments. Local governments, through their management of
land use and development, have a critical role to play in
protecting streams, lakes, wetlands and other fish habitats. The
Fish Protection Act amends sections in several acts including the
Municipal Act and the Water Act.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 201
What Senior Governments Can Do
Private Land Forest Practices Regulation
The Private Land Forest Practices Regulation (PLFPR) was
enacted April 1, 2000. The regulation is applicable to Managed
Forest Land under the Assessment Act. The PLFPR prescribes a
number of management requirements including soil conservation,
stream and fish habitat protection, water supply protection,
protection of critical wildlife habitats and reforestation.
The Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks has staff that are
designated environmental officials under the regulation and the
Forest Land Commission has staff that are designated as officers
under the new regulation. These people work as team to ensure the
regulation is applied to Managed Forest Lands.
A large portion of the SEI study area is designated Managed Forest
Land and therefore subject to this regulation. Older forest and older
second growth forest SEI polygons are delineated on these lands.
The primary land use on these lands is forestry. It can be expected
that the older forest sensitive ecosystems and other important older
second growth forest ecosystems will be converted over time.
Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm)
Act
This Farm Practices Protection Act (FPPA) legislation supports
farmers who farm responsibly, establishes a process to address
public concerns about farm practices and helps local governments
support farming in community plans and by-laws.
Definition of
Normal Farming Practices
An activity that is conducted
by a farm business in a
manner consistent with proper
and accepted customs and
standards as established and
followed by similar farm
businesses under similar
circumstances.
The fundamental policy of the legislation is that farmers have a
right to farm in B.C.’s important farming areas, particularly in the
Agricultural Land Reserve, provided they use “normal farming
practices” (see sidebar) and are in compliance with related
legislation (the Waste Management Act, Water Act, Pesticide
Control Act, Health Act).
The legislation establishes an improved complaint resolution
process for people who live near farms and have concerns about
farm practices that create dust, odor, noise or other disturbances.
The FPPA also amends the Municipal and Land Title Acts to
encourage local governments to support farming by ensuring local
by-laws reflect provincial standards for farming.
202 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
What Senior Governments Can Do
Conclusion
It is clear that senior levels of government have a vital role to play in
the conservation of sensitive ecosystems within the SEI study area.
However, no one level of government or agency has overall
responsibility for conservation. Although there is no explicit
sensitive ecosystems legislation per se within British Columbia or at
the federal level, legislation exists that can set aside sensitive areas
for conservation purposes—usually as part of a Wildlife
Management Area or a National Wildlife Area, Ecological Reserve,
provincial or national park, etc. The majority of legislation is
generally directed towards protecting specific resources (e.g. fish,
wildlife or habitat) and regulating human activities that could impact
on the resource.
In recent years there has been an effort to take more of an ecosystem
approach to land use planning and management, with the
introduction of the Fish Protection Act and amendments to the
Municipal Act. There is recognition that watershed planning and
management is an essential step towards conserving sensitive
ecosystems. The identification, designation and mapping of ESAs by
local governments, land trusts, conservancy groups, and special
interest groups is an important tool in conserving sensitive
ecosystems.
However, long-term conservation of biodiversity depends on public
support—the development of a ‘conservation ethic’ that
acknowledges and affirms the link between a healthy environment
and human prosperity. Development of such an ethic requires
education in conservation and natural values, which in turn helps to
develop a love of home and place, and an appreciation of and
protective attitude toward non-human life forms everywhere. We
hope that this manual will assist governments, landowners,
developers, and others to find ways to live productively and
sustainably while conserving our rich biological heritage.
Let us leave a splendid
legacy for our
children...let us turn to
them and say, ‘this you
inherit: guard it well, for
it is far more precious
than money, and once
destroyed, nature’s beauty
cannot be repurchased at
any price.’
— Ansel Adams
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 203
Glossary
126
Accretion: The increase in size or amount of inorganic materials in
an area due to the addition (accretion) of particles arriving in
the area from elsewhere.
Alluvial: See Fluvial.
Aspect: The compass direction of a slope or surface relative to the
sun (e.g. a slope on the south side of a hill has a southerly
aspect).
Blue-listed (B): those indigenous species or subspecies considered
provincially vulnerable. See Vulnerable/sensitive species.
Breakwater: A barrier constructed to protect a harbour or beach from
the force of waves.
Bryophyte: Primitive plant in the plant phylum Bryophyta, lacking a
vascular system and typically growing in moist habitats (e.g.,
mosses, hornworts, and liverworts).
Canadian Biodiversity Strategy: In 1992, Canada ratified the
United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity,
developed to promote the conservation and sustainable use of
living organisms and the biological complexes of which they
are a part. By 1996, representatives of the federal, provincial
and territorial governments had developed, through broadbased consultations, the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy as a
guide to implementing the Convention. The Strategy
outlines comprehensive steps for the conservation and
sustainable use of biological resources through science,
ecosystem management, legislation and regulation, education
and awareness and international cooperation.
Climax: The culminating self-replacing seral stage in plant
succession that is relatively stable and persists for long
periods relative to other seral stages.
Community: A group of living organisms connected by ecological
processes to a particular ecosystem. Often named after the
dominant vegetation. For example the red-listed Western
redcedar - Indian plum plant community. Within this
community are other associated plant species, and other
dependent species (animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians,
invertebrates and micro-organisms).
Conservation covenant: A conservation covenant is a voluntary,
written legal agreement in which a landowner promises to
126
Extracted from Dunster and Dunster 1996.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 205
Glossary
protect his/her land in specified ways. It can cover all or just
part of the landowner’s property. Such a covenant offers a
way of protecting land for a variety of uses such as wildlife
habitat, watershed protection, scenic values and historic
preservation. The agreement is between the landowner and
an organization, such as the Islands Trust Fund or a local
conservancy, or any other group or government agency
recognised or designated by the Minister of Environment,
Lands and Parks. Conservation covenants protect the land by
giving the covenant holder the authority to assume the longterm responsibility for monitoring and enforcing the
agreement. The covenant is attached to the title of the land, is
registered in the Land Title Office, and binds future owners
of the land to the terms established by the first landowner.
COSEWIC: The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in
Canada (COSEWIC) determines the national status of wild
Canadian species, subspecies and separate populations
suspected of being at risk. All native mammals, birds,
reptiles, amphibians, fish, molluscs, lepidopterans (butterflies
and moths), vascular plants, mosses and lichens are included
in its current mandate. Three categories of risk are used in
this manual. Endangered (E) denotes a species facing
imminent extirpation or extinction. Threatened (T) denotes a
species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are
not reversed. (SC) denotes a species of special concern
because of characteristics that make it particularly sensitive
to human activities or natural events.
Direct effect (impact): A condition caused by an action or inaction
without an intermediary agent which can be linked directly
back to the action/inaction.
Disjunct population: Populations of the same species that are
geographically separated from each other by large distances.
Dispersal: The passive or active movement, on any time scale, of
organisms from their point of origin to another location
where they may subsequently produce offspring.
Disturbance: A discrete force that causes significant change in
structure of composition through natural events such as fire,
flood, wind, or earthquake; mortality caused by insect or
disease outbreaks, or by human-caused events such as the
harvesting of a forest or draining of a wetland. In forests,
larger disturbances generally favour colonising species,
whereas smaller disturbances favour the competitive species.
Typically, diversity in the landscape is greater with large
disturbances at infrequent intervals. Small but frequent
206 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Glossary
disturbances create high diversity at the stand or ecosystem
level. A chronic disturbance is recurrent, or continues for
a long period of time. An episodic disturbance event
occurs within a completely distinct time period.
Dominant: A plant or group of plants which, by their collective
size, mass, or number, exert the most influence on other
components of the ecosystem.
Ecological processes: The actions or events that link organisms
(including humans) and their environment, such as
disturbance, successional development, nutrient cycling,
productivity, and decay.
Ecosystem: A system of living organisms interacting with the soil,
land, water and nutrients that make up their environment.
An ecosystem is the home place of living things, including
humans.
Edge effect: The penetration of wind, light, and humidity creating
differences in microclimate (air and soil temperature,
wind, light, humidity), as well as sound, predation, and
visibility, beyond and into vegetation bordering a zone of
disturbance. The distance of edge effect penetration varies
with the vegetation conditions of the forest and the
adjacent opening, as well as aspect and topography. Edge
effects can drastically reduce the area of a vegetated
“island” that can function as “interior” forest.
Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA): A term often used loosely
to mean a site or area that has environmental attributes
worthy of retention or special care. ESAs are important in
the management of all landscapes and require tight
definitions to be defensible. A more exacting definition is:
An environmentally sensitive area is any parcel of land,
large or small, under public or private control, that already
has, or with remedial action could achieve, desirable
environmental attributes. These attributes contribute to the
retention and/or creation of wildlife habitat, soils stability,
water retention or recharge, vegetative cover, and similar
vital ecological functions.
Environmentally sensitive areas range in size from small
patches to extensive landscape features. They can include
rare or common habitats, plants and animals. Taken
together, a well-defined and protected network of
environmentally sensitive areas performs necessary
ecological functions within urban and rural landscapes.
This network makes a very important contribution to the
overall quality of life for all species living in and around
the area, and plays a particularly important role in
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 207
Glossary
maintaining or enhancing the health and livability of city
and urban landscapes.
Evapotranspiration: The movement of water from the soil, an
individual plant, or plant communities to the atmosphere
by evaporation of water from the soil and transpiration of
water by plants.
Extinction: The termination of a species caused by failure to
reproduce and death of all remaining members of that
species. Can be natural or human-induced.
Extirpation: The elimination of a species or subspecies from a
particular area, but not from its entire range.
Feral: An animal that has escaped from domestication and
returned to a wild state.
Fluvial: A comprehensive term for several stream or river
processes, involving the transport and deposition of
materials by water.
Forb: An herbaceous plant with broad leaves, excluding the
grasses and grass-like plants.
Fragmentation: is the breaking up of continuous areas of habitat
into smaller parcels. For example, a forest becomes
fragmented when sections are cleared for highway
widening.
Freshet: A sudden and rapid rise in the level of a stream or river
due to heavy rains or rapid snowmelt.
Grass: Plants in the family Gramineae, whose characteristics
include stems that are jointed at nodes, are hollow, have
sheathing leaves, and flowers (inflorescences) surrounded
by bracts (glumes).
Greenway: A system of protected linear corridors of open space,
managed for conservation and recreation purposes.
Groin: A breakwater structure that extends seaward at a right
angle to the shoreline, in order to alter or inhibit the drift
of sediments along the shoreline.
Habitat: Those parts of the environment (aquatic, terrestrial,
atmospheric), often typified by a dominant plant form or
physical characteristic, on which an organism depends,
directly or indirectly, in order to carry out its life
processes.
Habitat heterogeneity: A mix of different habitats within an
ecosystem, landscape, or area. Habitat diversity is the
number of different types of habitats within a given area.
Hibernacula: Sheltered places where overwintering animals rest,
or dens where snakes hibernate.
208 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Glossary
Impact: Or, “effect”. Describes a positive or negative change in
the environment through space or time as a result of
human, non-human (natural), or abiotic activity. Impacts
can be additive (the outcome equals the sum of the
individual impacts), subtractive (the outcome is less than
the sum of individual impacts because some have
cancelled each other out), or synergistic (the final impact
is greater than the sum of the individual impacts). See
also Direct effect and Indirect effect.
Important ecosystems: Modified or non-natural sites functioning
as important wildlife habitats, as buffers between
developed lands and the more fragile ecosystems, and as
reservoirs for biodiversity in otherwise highly developed
and urbanised landscapes. For the SEI project the two
other important ecosystems are older second growth
forest and seasonally flooded agricultural field
ecosystems.
Indirect effect (impact): A condition caused by an action or
inaction through intermediary causal agents. An effect for
which the causal linkages to the action or inaction are not
clearly apparent.
Jetty: A structure of wooden pilings, rocks, or other materials
extending out into a body of water to divert a current, or
to protect a harbour, shoreline or a wharf.
Krummholtz: A twisted, dwarfed or prostrate growth habit of
trees that is the result of severe environmental conditions
such as strong prevailing winds.
Micro-habitat: 1) A specific combination of habitat elements in
the place occupied by an organism. 2) A restricted set of
distinctive environmental conditions that constitute
habitat on a small scale, such as the area under a log.
Natural disturbance: An event that causes a change in the
composition or structure of the ecosystem with minimal
influence from human activity.
Niche: The unique suite of environmental factors required by an
organism for survival. An ecological niche is an
organism’s actual place within a community, including its
tolerances for the physical environment, its interactions
with other organisms, and the manner in which the
organism utilises the component parts of its habitat.
Non-point source pollution: A source of atmospheric, aquatic, or
terrestrial pollution in which naturally occurring or
human-induced pollutants are discharged over a
widespread area or from a number of small inputs, rather
than from one distinct identifiable source (point source).
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 209
Glossary
Obligate: Organisms that are restricted to one or very few narrowly
defined environments, roles, modes of life, or processes,
for survival. For example, an obligate cavity dweller only
uses tree cavities for nesting or denning.
Patch: A habitat patch is a spatially distinct unit of a particular
habitat.
Peak flow: The highest amount of stream or river flow occurring in
a year or from a single storm event.
Peripheral population: An assemblage of individuals of one
species at the edge of its geographic range.
Polygon: A series of points that are joined to form an unbroken line
delineating the perimeter of an area (e.g. ecosystem) on a
map. A polygon is used to graphically delineate and sort
the features of an area by various attributes and represents
a unique site in the SEI inventory.
Population: Is a group of individuals of the same species that
inhabit an area in which they can interact and potentially
breed with one another.
Profits à prendre: A right to take a part of the soil or produce of
the land, or to take from the soil such as by logging or
mining. The taking (profit) distinguishes this right from an
easement, which is a right of use over the property of
another.
Recharge: The addition of water to an aquifer that occurs naturally
from infiltration of rainfall and from water flowing over
earth materials that allow water to infiltrate below the land
surface.
Red-listed (R): Those indigenous species or subspecies considered
provincially rare. See Threatened and endangered
species.
Riparian: Terrestrial areas where the vegetation complex and
microclimate conditions are products of the combined
presence and influence of perennial and/or intermittent
water, associated high water tables, and soils that exhibit
some wetness characteristics.
Runoff: The part of precipitation and snowmelt that reaches
streams and rivers by flowing over or through the ground.
Surface runoff flows away without penetrating the soils.
Groundwater runoff enters streams by seeping through
soils.
Scarified: Seeds that have undergone physical or chemical
modification to make their hard coats permeable to water
and air in order to initiate germination.
210 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Glossary
Senescence: The process of aging in mature individuals, typically
toward the end of an organism’s life.
Sensitive ecosystem: Those remaining natural terrestrial ecosystems
which are considered fragile and/or rare in the SEI study
area: coastal bluff, sparsely vegetated, terrestrial
herbaceous, wetland, riparian, woodland and older forest
ecosystems.
Seral: The successional stage of plant communities that succeed
one another.
Snag: Any standing dead, partially dead, or defective tree at least 3
metres tall.
Succession: A series of dynamic changes in ecosystem structure,
function, and species composition over time as a result of
which one group of organisms succeeds another through
stages leading to a potential natural community or climax
stage. For example, the series of plant communities (seral
stages) following a major disturbance. Primary succession
occurs when organisms colonise a previously sterile area
(i.e. it has no biological legacy to pass on). Secondary
succession occurs on sites that have previously been
colonised and subsequently disturbed in some manner or
the natural replacement of seral stage ecosystem with a
later or climax ecosystem.
Talus: Angular rock fragments accumulated at the foot of a steep
rock slope and being the product of successive rock falls; a
type of colluvium.
Threatened and endangered species: An indigenous species of
flora or fauna that is likely to become endangered if the
factors affecting its vulnerability do not become reversed.
Threatened and endangered species are referred to as “redlisted” by the B.C. Conservation Data Centre.
Till: Material deposited by glaciers and ice sheets without
modification by any other agent of transportation. Till
materials typically consist of unsorted mixtures of clay,
silt, sand, gravel and boulders of varying sizes and shapes.
Tilth: The structure, character, and quality of soil resulting from the
combined factors of parent material and biological activity
within the soil, and the effects of land use management
practices on the soil. Soil in good tilth is well aerated, and
rich in humus and organic matter that allows moisture to
be retained.
Vernal pool: A temporary body of freshwater that is filled by spring
rains and snowmelt, only to dry up during the hot, dry
summer months. Many vernal pools are filled again by
autumn rains, and may persist throughout the winter.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 211
Glossary
pools are typically small and shallow, and provide crucial
breeding habitat for amphibians and invertebrates.
Vulnerable/sensitive species: Indigenous species that are not
threatened but are particularly at risk because of low or
declining numbers. These species are identified as “blue
listed” by the B.C. Conservation Data Centre.
Wildlife: Any wild organism, including: wild mammals, birds,
reptiles, amphibians, fishes, invertebrates, plants, fungi,
algae, and bacteria.
Windthrow: A tree uprooted by the wind.
Yellow-listed (Y): Any indigenous species or subspecies (taxa) that
is not at risk in British Columbia but may be vulnerable
during times of seasonal concentration (e.g., breeding
colonies). These species are identified as “yellow-listed” by
the B.C. Conservation Data Centre.
212 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Bibliography
Bibliography
This bibliography contains literature cited, references consulted during
the preparation of the manual and other useful references. Stewardship
publications are listed separately in Appendix A.
Alley, N.F., and S.C. Chatwin. 1979. Late Pleistocene History and
Geomorphology, Southwestern Vancouver Island, British
Columbia. Quaternary Research 11: 213-237.
Banner, A., Hebda, R.J., Oswald, E.T., Pojar, J., and R. Trowbridge.
1988. Wetlands of Pacific Canada. In: National Wetlands
Working Group Canada Committee on Ecological Land
Classification. Wetlands of Canada. Ecological Land
Classification Series, No. 24. Polyscience Publications Inc.
Montreal, Quebec.
British Columbia Agricultural Land Commission. 1993. Landscaped
Buffer Specifications. Burnaby: B.C. Agricultural Land
Commission.
British Columbia Ferry Corporation. 1997. Monthly Traffic Statistics
for Fiscal Year 1996/97.
Barclay, R.M.R. and R.M. Brigham (eds.). 1996. Bats and Forests
Symposium. Research Branch, B.C. Ministry of Forests,
Victoria, B.C. Working Paper 23/1996.
Binkley, D. and T.C. Brown, 1993. Forest practices as nonpoint sources
of pollution in North America. American Water Resources
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Bourgeron, P.S. 1988. Advantages and limitations of ecological
classification for the protection of ecosystems. Conservation
Biology 2:218-220.
British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. 1996.
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Implementation of the Farm Practices Protection (Right to
Farm) Act.
Brown, E. R. 1985. Management of Wildlife and Fish Habitats in
Forests of Western Oregon and Washington. U.S. Department
of Agriculture Forest Service and the U.S. Department of the
Interior Bureau of Land Management.
Brownlee, M. J., E. R. Mattice, and C. D. Levings. 1984. The
Campbell River Estuary: A report on the design, construction,
and preliminary follow-up study findings of intertidal marsh
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Bibliography
Bryant, A.A., Savard, J.L., and R.T. McLaughlin. 1993. Avian
Communities in Old-Growth and Managed Forests of
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Wilson, L.K., I.E. Moul, K. M. Langelier, and J. E. Elliott. 1995.
Summary of bird mortalities in British Columbia and Yukon
1963-1994. Technical Report Series No. 249. Canadian
Wildlife Service, Pacific and Yukon region, British
Columbia.
Wolfe, L. D.S., and D. A. Blood. 1993. Background paper for
maintaining British Columbia’s wildlife heritage: The
provincial wildlife strategy for 2001. West Vancouver, B.C.:
Quadra Planning Consultants Ltd.
World Wide Fund for Nature. 1999. Living Planet Report 1999.
Http://www.panda.org/livingplanet/lprreport.html
Wright, J. B. 1993. Conservation Easements: An analysis of donated
development rights. APA Journal. Autumn 1993: pp. 487493.
Young, C. 1987. B.C.’s Vanishing Temperate Rainforests. Forest
Planning Canada 3(6): 12-14.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 225
Bibliography
Zoltai, S.C. 1988. Wetland Environments and Classification. In:
National Wetlands Working Group Canada Committee on
Ecological Land Classification. Wetlands of Canada.
Ecological Land Classification Series, No. 24. Montreal:
Polyscience Publications Inc.
Zuidema, P.A., Sayer, J.A., and W. Dijkman. 1996. Forest
Fragmentation and Biodiversity: The Case for Intermediatesized Conservation Areas. Environmental Conservation
23(4): 290-297.
Zuleta, G.A. and C. Galindo-Leal, 1994. Distribution and
Abundance of Four Species of Small Mammals at Risk in a
Fragmented Landscape. Wildlife Working Report No. WR64 prepared for the Wildlife Branch, B.C. Ministry of
Environment, Lands and Parks.
226 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix A: Stewardship Publications
Appendix A: Stewardship
Publications
Adirondack Land Trust. 1989. Developing a Land Conservation
Strategy: A handbook for land trusts. Elizabethtown, NY:
Adirondack Land Trust.
Andrews: W.J., and D. Loukidelis. 1996. Leaving a Living Legacy:
Using conservation covenants in B.C. Vancouver: West
Coast Environmental Law Research Foundation.
British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
Environmental Guidelines for Producers in British
Columbia (series).
Chilibeck, B., G. Chislett, and G. Norris. 1992. Land Development
Guidelines For The Protection of Aquatic Habitat.
Vancouver: Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Ministry of
Environment, Lands and Parks.
Cowan, S., C. Wilson and B. Austin. 1998. Caring for Our Shores:
A Handbook for Coastal Landowners in the Strait of
Georgia. Duncan, B.C.: The Cowichan Community Land
Trust Society and The Marine Ecology Station.
Dovetail Consultants Ltd. 1996. Urban Stream Stewardship: From
bylaws to partnerships. An assessment of mechanisms for
the protection of aquatic and riparian resources in the
lower mainland. Urban Initiative Series #6. Prepared for the
Fraser River Action Plan, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and
Environment Canada. Vancouver, B.C.
findlay, b. and A. Hillyer. 1994. Here Today, Here Tomorrow: Legal
tools for the voluntary protection of private land in British
Columbia. Vancouver: West Coast Environmental Law
Research Foundation.
Inglis, S.D., P.A. Thomas, and E. Child. 1996. Protection of Aquatic
and Riparian Habitat on Private Land: Evaluating the
effectiveness of covenants in the City of Surrey, 1995.
Prepared for the Fraser River Action Plan, Department of
Fisheries and Oceans, Vancouver, B. C.; and the Land
Development, Environment and Research Division, City of
Surrey, B.C.
Noss, R. F., M. A. O’Connell, and D. D. Murphy. 1997. The
Science of Conservation Planning. Washington, DC: Island
Press.
Quadra Planning Consultants Ltd. 1995. Protection of aquatic and
riparian habitat by local governments: An inventory of
measures adopted in the Lower Fraser Valley, 1995.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 227
Appendix A: Stewardship Publications
Vancouver: Fraser River Action Plan, Department of
Fisheries and Oceans.
Sandborn, C. 1996. Green space and growth: Conserving natural
areas in B.C. communities. Prepared for Commission on
Resources and Environment, Wildlife Habitat Canada,
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ministry of Municipal
Affairs and Housing.
Webb, C. 1996. Environmental stewardship in the Municipal Act: A
synopsis of local government powers. Prepared for Fraser
River Action Plan, Department of Fisheries and Oceans,
Vancouver, B.C.
The Stewardship Series
The Stewardship Series is a group of publications describing
stewardship activities for various audiences. The series is funded
by federal and provincial governments in partnership with nongovernment organisations on a project by project basis. Current
publications include:
Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Fraser River Action Plan)
and Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. 1997.
Watershed Stewardship: A Guide For Agriculture.
Vancouver, B.C.
———.1997. Stewardship By-laws: A Guide for Local
Government. Vancouver, B.C.
———.1996. Community Greenways: Linking Communities to
Country, and People to Nature. Vancouver, B.C.
———.1994. Stream Stewardship - A Guide For Planners and
Developers. Vancouver, B.C.
Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Fraser River Action Plan),
Department of the Environment, and Ministry of
Environment, Lands and Parks. 1997. Access Near Aquatic
Areas. Vancouver, B.C.
———.1995. Streamkeepers Handbook: A practical guide to
stream and wetland care. Vancouver, B.C.
Fraser River Management Program, Canadian Wildlife Service,
Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Forest Renewal
B.C.’s Watershed Restoration Program. 1995. Community
Stewardship: A guide to establishing your own group.
Vancouver, B.C.
Ministry of Environment Lands and Parks. 1996. Stewardship
Options For Private Landowners in British Columbia.
Victoria, B.C.
228 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix A: Stewardship Publications
———.1995. Naturescape British Columbia: Caring for Wildlife
Habitat at Home. Victoria, B.C.
———.1994. Water Stewardship: A Guide for Teachers, Students
and Community Groups.
Stewardship 94: Proceedings from a conference held March 3 – 5,
1994 on revisiting the land ethic and caring for the land.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 229
Appendix B: Organizations and Resources
Appendix B: Organisations and
Resources
Federal Government
Environment Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service
3567 Island Highway West
Qualicum Beach, B.C., V9K 2B7
tel: (250) 752-9611
fax: (250) 752-9611
Agriculture and Agri-food Canada
Coastal Areas Branch
Box 2527
103-620 Royal Avenue
New Westminster, B.C.
V3L 5A8
tel: (604) 666-9283
Environment Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service
Pacific and Yukon Region
RR 1, 5421 Robertson Road
Delta, B.C.,V4K 3N2
tel: (604) 940-4700
fax: (604) 946-7022
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
South Coast Division
3225 Stephenson Point Road
Nanaimo, B.C.
V9T 1K3
tel: (250) 756-7270
fax: (250) 756-7160
Provincial Government
Ministry of Environment, Land and Parks
Conservation Data Centre
Resources Inventory Branch
Box 9344 Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, B.C.
V8W 9M1
tel: (250) 387-0732
fax: (250) 387-2733
email: [email protected]
web site: http://www.elp.gov.bc.ca/rib/wis/cdc
Ministry of Agriculture and Food
Agriculture Division
808 Douglas Street
Victoria, B.C.
V8W 2Z7
tel: (250) 387-5121
Ministry of Environment, Land and Parks
Vancouver Island Regional Headquarters
2080A Labieux Road
Nanaimo, B.C.
V9T 6J9
tel: (250) 751-3100
fax: (250) 751-3103
British Columbia Land Reserve Commission
Room 133, 4940 Canada Way
Burnaby, B.C. V5G 4K6
tel: (604) 660-7000
fax: (604) 660-7033
web site: www.landcommission.gov.bc.ca
230 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix B: Organizations and Resources
Ministry of Municipal Affairs
Growth Strategies Office
P.O. Box 9490, Provincial Government Station
3rd Floor, 800 Johnson Street
Victoria, B.C.
V8W 9N7
tel: (250) 387-4040
fax: (250) 356-9019
Regional Government
Cowichan Valley Regional District
137 Evans Street
Duncan, B.C.
V9L 1P5
tel: (250) 746-2500
fax: (250) 746-5612
email: [email protected]
Capital Regional District
Box 1000, 524 Yates Street
Victoria, B.C.
V8W 2S6
tel: (250) 360-3000
fax: (250) 360-3130
Regional District of Comox-Strathcona
Box 3370
Courtenay, B.C.
V9N 5N5
tel: (250) 334-6000
fax: (250) 334-4358
Regional District of Nanaimo
Box 40
Lantzville, B.C.
tel: (250) 390-4111
fax: (250) 390-4163
Powell River Regional District (Lasqueti Island)
5776 Marine Avenue
Powell River, B.C.
V8A 2M4
tel: (250) 483-3231
fax: (250) 483-2229
Local Government
Islands Trust
2nd Floor, 1627 Fort Street
Victoria, B.C.
V8R 1H8
tel: (250) 405-5151
fax: (250) 405-5155
web site: www.islandstrust.bc.ca/
Islands Trust Fund
2nd Floor, 1627 Fort Street
Victoria, B.C.
V8R 1H8
tel: (250) 405-5174
fax: (250) 405-5155
web site: www.islandstrustfund.bc.ca
District of Campbell River
301 St. Ann’s Road,
Campbell River V9W 4C7
tel: (250) 286-5700
fax: (250) 286-5761
Town of Comox
1809 Beaufort Avenue
Comox V9M 1R9
tel: (250) 339-2202
fax: (250) 339-7110
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 231
Appendix B: Organizations and Resources
City of Courtenay
830 Cliffe Avenue,
Courtenay V9N 2J7
tel: (250) 334-4061
fax: (250) 334-4241
Village of Cumberland
PO Box 340
Cumberland V0R 1S0
tel: (250) 336-2291
fax: (250) 336-2321
Town of Qualicum Beach
PO Box 130,
Qualicum Beach V9K 1S7
tel: (250) 752-6921
fax: (250) 752-1243
City of Parksville
PO Box 1390
Parksville V9P 2H3
tel: (250) 954-4660
fax: (250) 248-6650
City of Nanaimo
455 Wallace St
Naniamo V9R 5J6
tel: (250) 755-4428
fax: (250) 755-4436
City of Duncan
PO Box 820,
Duncan V9L 3Y2
tel: (250) 746-6126
fax: (250) 746-6129
District of North Cowichan
PO Box 278
Duncan V9L 3X4
tel: (250) 746-3100
fax: (250) 746-3154
Village of Lake Cowichan
PO Box 860
Lake Cowichan V0R 2G0
tel: (250) 749-6681
fax: (250) 749-3900
Town of Ladysmith
Town Hall, PO Box 220
Ladysmith V0R 2E0
tel: (250) 245-6400
fax: (250) 245-6411
District of Highlands
1564 Millstream Road
Victoria V9B 4T9
tel: (250) 474-1773
fax: (250) 474-3677
Town of Sidney
2440 Sidney Avenue
Sidney V8L 1Y7
tel: (250) 656-1184
fax: (250) 655-4508
District of Langford
2805 Carlow Road
Victoria V9B 5V9
tel: (250) 478-7882
fax: (250) 478-7864
District of North Saanich
PO Box 2639
Sidney V8L 4C1
tel: (250) 656-0781
fax: (250) 656-3155
City of Colwood
3300 Wishart Road
Victoria V9C 1R1
tel: (250) 478-5541
fax: (250) 478-7516
District of Central Saanich
1903 Mount Newton Cross Road
Saanichton V0S 1M0
tel: (250) 652-4444
fax: (250) 652-0315
232 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix B: Organizations and Resources
District of Saanich
770 Vernon Avenue
Victoria V8X 2W7
tel: (250) 475-1775
fax: (250) 475-5450
Town of View Royal
45 View Royal Avenue
Victoria V9B 1A6
tel: (250) 479-6800
fax: (250) 727-9551
District of Oak Bay
2167 Oak Bay Avenue
Victoria V8R 1G2
tel: (250) 598-3311
fax: (250) 598-9108
District of Metchosin
4450 Happy Valley Road
RR #4 Victoria V9C 3Z3
tel: (250) 474-3167
fax: (250) 474-6298
City of Victoria
1 Centennial Square
Victoria V8W 1P6
tel: (250) 385-5711
fax: (250) 385-1128
District of Esquimalt
1229 Esquimalt Road
Victoria V9A 3P1
tel: (250) 385-2461
fax: (250) 385-6668
Non-Government Organisations
Note: this list has been compiled to provide the reader with some sources of further information.
This is not intended to be a complete listing of all conservation organisations in the SEI study area.
B.C. Federation of Agriculture
846 Broughton Street
Victoria, B.C.
V8W 1E4
tel: (250) 383-7171
fax: (250) 383-5031
email: [email protected]
web site: http://vvv.com/home/bcfa/index.html
Cowichan Community Land Trust Society
#6 - 55 Station Street
Duncan, B.C.
V9L 1M2
tel: (250) 746-0227
fax: (250) 746-9608
email: [email protected]
Denman Island Conservancy Association
P.O. Box 60
Denman Island, B.C.
V0R 1T0
tel: (250) 335-2151
fax: (250) 335-2151
Coast Islands Conservancy
RR1
Mayne Island, B.C.
V0N 2J0
tel: (250) 539-2034
email: [email protected]
Comox Valley Land Trust
Box 3462
Courtenay, B.C.
V9N 5N5
tel: (250) 337-1929
Discovery Coast Greenways Land Trust
158 Coronation Crescent
Campbell River, B.C. V9W 3T6
tel: (250) 287-8565
email: [email protected]
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 233
Appendix B: Organizations and Resources
Ducks Unlimited Canada - Coastal Office
Unit 1 – 3033 King George Highway
Surrey, B.C. V4P 1B8
tel: (604) 531-5933
fax: (604) 531-43890
Friends of Ecological Reserves
Box 8477
Victoria, B.C.
V8W 3S1
tel: (250) 595-4813
Galiano Conservancy Association
RR#1, Sturdies Bay Road
Galiano Island, B.C.
V0N 1P0
tel: (250) 539-2424
email: [email protected]
Georgia Strait Alliance
#201 - 195 Commercial Street
Nanaimo, B.C.
V9R 5G5
tel: (250) 753-3459
fax: (250) 753-2567
email: [email protected]
web site: http://www.island.net/~gsa/
Hornby Island Conservancy
Box 55
Hornby Island, B.C.
V0R 1Z0
tel: (250) 335-2603
fax: (250) 335-2807
Native Plant Society of B.C.
2012 William Street
Vancouver, B.C.
V5L 2X6
tel: (604) 255-5719
fax: (604) 258-0201
email: [email protected]
Federation of BC Naturalists
#425 - 1367 West Broadway
Vancouver, B.C., V6H 4A9
tel: (604) 737-3057
fax: (604) 738-7173
email: [email protected]
Gabriola Island Conservancy
General Delivery
Gabriola Island, B.C.
V0R 1X0
tel: (250) 247-8691
fax: (250) 247-8691
Garry Oak Meadow Preservation Society
3873 Swan Lake Road
Victoria, B.C.
V8X 3W1
(250) 386-4792
Heartlands Conservancy
RR#2, Site 52
Gabriola Island, B.C.
V0R 1X0
tel: (250) 247-8436
fax: (250) 247-8492
Nanaimo and Area Land Trust Society
2648 Hammond Bay Road
Nanaimo, B.C. V9T 1T0
tel: (250) 758-5490
fax: (250) 754-2386
[email protected]
Pender Islands Conservancy Association
P.O. Box 52
Pender Island, B.C.
V0N 2M0
tel: (250) 629-6416
fax: (250) 629-6432
email: [email protected]
234 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix B: Organizations and Resources
Rosewall to Bonnell Land Trust Society
3681 Tralee Road
Qualicum Beach, B.C.
V9K 1V52
tel: (250) 752-3087
email: [email protected]
Salt Spring Island Conservancy
Box 722, Ganges P.O.
Saltspring Island, B.C., V8K 2W3
tel/fax: (250) 538-0012
email: [email protected]
website: www.salt-spring.bc.ca/conservancy
Swan Lake and Christmas Hill Nature
Sanctuary Society
3873 Swan Lake
Victoria, B.C.
tel: (250) 479-0211
fax: (250) 479-0132
The Evergreen Foundation
Learning Grounds Project
106-163 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, B.C.
V6B 1H5
The Land Conservancy of British Columbia
5793 Old West Saanich Road
Victoria, B.C. V9E 2H2
tel: (250) 361-7693
fax: (250) 744-2251
email: [email protected]
web site: www.conservancy.bc.ca
Trumpeter Swan Sentinel Society
#3 - 2401 Cliffe Avenue, Box 169
Courtenay, B.C. V9N 2L5
tel: (250) 335-1419
fax: (250) 338-5565
Habitat Acquisition Trust
Victoria Natural History Society
PO Box 8552
Victoria, B.C., V8W 3S2
tel: (250) 995-2428
email: [email protected]
website: www.hat.bc.ca
Wild Bird Trust of BC
124 - 1489 Marine Drive
West Vancouver, B.C.
V7T 1B8
tel: (604) 922-1550
fax: (604) 922-8407
Gambier Island Conservancy
RR#3
Gambier Island, B.C.
V0N 1V0
tel: (604) 886-8901
fax: (604) 886-8901
The Nature Trust of B.C.
808-100 Park Royal South
West Vancouver, B.C. V7T 1A2
tel: (604) 925-1128
fax: (604) 926-3482
Victoria Natural History Society
Box 5220, Station B
Victoria, B.C.
V8R 2J1
tel: (250) 479-2054
Waterbird Watch Collective
272 Beddis Road
Saltspring Island, B.C.
V8K 2J1
tel: (250) 537-4515
fax: (250) 537-5115
Land Trust Alliance of B.C.
204-338 Lower Ganges Road
Salt Spring Island, B.C.
V8K 2V3
Email: [email protected]
web site: www.island.net/~ltabc/
Thetis Island Conservancy
Box 5 - 8
Thetis Island, B.C.
V0R 2X0
tel: (250) 246-2184
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 235
Appendix B: Organizations and Resources
Mount Tolmie Conservancy Association
3503 Camcrest Place
Victoria, B.C.
V8P 4V6
web site: www.geocities.com/RainForest/1234
West Coast Environmental Law Association
1001 - 207 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, B.C.
V6B 1H7
tel: (604) 684-7378
fax: (604) 684-1312
email: [email protected]
Bowen Island Heritage Preservation Association
PO Box 78
Bowen Island, B. C.
V0N 1G0
tel: (604) 947-9146
fax: (640) 947-2687
Bowen Island Conservancy
P.O. Box 301
Bowen Island, B.C.
V0N 1G0
tel: (604) 947-0483
fax: (604) 947-0483
Nature Conservancy of Canada
202-26 Bastion Square
Victoria, B. C.
V8W 1H9
tel: (250) 479-3191
236 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix C: Ecosystem Key
Appendix C: Ecosystem Key
F
ollowing is a key to the nine SEI ecosystems of the eastern coastal lowland of Vancouver
Island and the Gulf Islands. It is designed to assist users in identifying the ecosystem type(s)
of a particular site in question.
To use the key, carefully select one of the two possible choices at each level of the key, i.e., start at
1a and see if the statement applies to your site. If it does, continue to 2a, otherwise go to 1b. In
choosing which statement applies, keep in mind that this key pertains only to areas larger than 0.5
ha. In other words, do not use the key without having walked through a large portion of the site.
Key
1a. Site usually open with more than 10% trees–go to 2
2a. Site dominated by non-agricultural land–go to 3
3a. Site not associated with a floodplain or gully or immediately adjacent to a lake, stream
or river–go to 4
4a. Site without water at or above the surface of the land; soils relatively dry–go to 5
5a. Site with highly visible, exposed bedrock–6
6a. Site at marine shoreline, but above high water–7
7a. Site with less than 30% slope dominated by grasses or mosses:
COASTAL BLUFF–Vegetated rocky islets and shorelines (CB)
7b. Site steep, with at least a 30% slope: COASTAL BLUFF–Vegetated
coastal cliffs and bluffs (CB:cl)
6b. Site not at marine shoreline–8
8a. Site with generally less than 30% slope, but vegetation more than slope
a factor: TERRESTRIAL HERBACEOUS–Rock outcrops often a dominant
feature (HT:ro)
8b. Site with at least 30% slope: SPARSELY VEGETATED–Inland cliffs
and bluffs (SV:cl)
5b. Site without highly visible, exposed bedrock–9
9a. Site at the shoreline consisting of exposed sands or gravels–10
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 237
Appendix C: Ecosystem Key
10a. Site created by wind-blown sand forming a ridge or hill: SPARSELY
VEGETATED–Coastal sand dunes (SV:sd)
10b. Site consisting of gravels or sands deposited by long-shore drifting:
SPARSELY VEGETATED–Coastal gravel and sand spits (SV:sp)
9b. Site may or may not be at the shoreline but not consisting of exposed sands
or gravels–11
11a. Site saturated periodically and dominated by grasses, sedges, rushes and
forbs: WET MEADOW (WN:wm)
11b. Site never saturated and dominated by grasses and mosses:
TERRESTRIAL HERBACEOUS–Natural grasslands and moss-dominated
(HT)
4b. Site with water at or above or regularly inundating the surface of the land; soils
obviously wet–12
12a. Site with trees or shrubs present–13
13a. Site with moss species common and often abundant, tree cover generally
absent or stunted–14
14a. Site receiving water from surface runoff or groundwater, dominated by
sedges and brown mosses and non-Ericaceous shrubs: WETLAND–Fen
(WN:fn)
14b. Site generally isolated from groundwater or surface runoff, dominated by
Sphagnum moss and Ericaceous shrubs with shore pine the dominant tree:
WETLAND–Bog (WN:bg)
13b. Site with moss species uncommon except on the flood-tolerant trees (e.g.
western redcedar, Pacific crabapple, black cottonwood, willow); dominated by
shrubs (e.g. hardhack); skunk cabbage or sedges common: WETLAND–Swamp
(WN:sp)
12b. Site without trees or shrubs–15
15a. Site with less than 5% rooted vegetation; most vegetation submerged or
floating; water depth < 2m: WETLAND–Shallow water (WN:sw)
15b. Site with more than 5% rooted vegetation; dominated by emergent vegetation
including sedges, grasses and rushes: WETLAND–Marsh (WN:ms)
3b. Site associated with a floodplain or gully or immediately adjacent to a lake, stream or
river–go to 16
238 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix C: Ecosystem Key
16a. Site associated with a gully: RIPARIAN–Gullies (RI:g)
16b. Site not associated with a gully–17
17a. Site with less than 20% shrubs–18
18a. Site dominated by mosses and lichens: RIPARIAN–Sparse/bryoid (RI:1)
18b. Site dominated by herbs: RIPARIAN–Herb (RI:2)
17b. Site with at least 20% shrubs: RIPARIAN–Shrub/herb (RI:3)
2b. Site dominated by agricultural land and flooded at certain times of year: SEASONALLY
FLOODED AGRICULTURAL FIELD (FS)
1b. Site somewhat to completely closed with at least 10% trees–go to 19
19a. Site not associated with a floodplain or gully or immediately adjacent to a lake, stream or
river–go to 20
20a. Site without visible water at or above the surface of the land–go to 21
21a. Site dominated by non-coniferous tree species–22
22a. Dominant trees other than Garry oak–23
23a. Trees predominately arbutus; Douglas-fir and Garry oak may also be
present: WOODLAND–Arbutus–Douglas-fir woodlands
23b. Trees predominately trembling aspen: WOODLAND–Trembling Aspen
woodlands
22b. Trees predominately Garry oak; Douglas-fir and arbutus may also be present:
WOODLAND–Garry oak woodlands
21b. Site dominated by coniferous tree species–24
24a. Coniferous-dominated forest with average tree age of at least 100 years–25
25a. Site dominated by coniferous trees with deciduous species, if any,
occupying less than 15% of canopy: CONIFEROUS OLDER FOREST (OF:co)
25b. Site dominated by coniferous trees with deciduous trees occupying at least
15% of the canopy: OLDER FOREST–Mixed Older Forest (OF:mx)
24b. Coniferous-dominated forest with average tree age between 60 and 100
years–26
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 239
Appendix C: Ecosystem Key
26a. Site dominated by coniferous trees with deciduous species, if any,
occupying less than 15% of canopy: OLDER SECOND GROWTH FOREST–
Coniferous Older Second Growth Forest (SG:co)
26b. Site dominated by coniferous trees with deciduous trees occupying at least
15% of the canopy: OLDER SECOND GROWTH FOREST–Mixed Older
Second Growth Forest (SG:mx)
20b. Site with water at or above the surface of the land–27
27a. Site dominated by (at least 25% cover) flood-tolerant trees (western redcedar,
Pacific crabapple, black cottonwood, willow) or shrubs (hardhack): WETLAND–Swamp
(WN:sp).
27b. Site dominated by Sphagnum moss and Ericaceous shrubs with shore pine,
occasionally with western hemlock: WETLAND–Bog (WN:bg)
19b. Site associated with a floodplain or gully or immediately adjacent to a lake, stream or
river–go to 28
28a. Site associated with a gully: RIPARIAN–Gullies (RI:g)
28b. Site not associated with a gully–29
29a. Site with trees less than 80 years old–30
30a. Site dominated by densely stocked trees less than 40 years old: RIPARIAN–
Pole/sapling (RI:4)
30b. Site dominated by young forest where self-thinning is evident; trees 40 to 80
years old: RIPARIAN–Young forest (RI:5)
29b. Site with trees at least 80 years old–31
31a. Site with trees 80 to 250 years old: RIPARIAN–Mature forest (RI:6)
31b. Site with trees at least 250 years old: RIPARIAN–Older forest (RI:7)
240 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix D: Plants of the SEI Study Area
Appendix D: Plants of the SEI Study
Area
Note: This is not a complete list of all plant species of the SEI study area. It is an index of species
mentioned in the SEI Technical Report and/or the Conservation Manual. * denotes introduced
species, R – red-listed species, B – blue-listed species, U – uncommon species as of May 2000.
Please check the BC Conservation Data Centre web site for current status of plant species:
http://www.elp.gov.bc.ca/rib/wis/cdc. COSEWIC listed species as of May 2000 are also noted: E
(Endangered) denotes a species facing imminent extirpation or extinction; T (Threatened) denotes a
species likely to become endangered if limiting factors are not reversed; SC denotes a species of
special concern because of characteristics that make it particularly sensitive to human activities or
natural events (see also Glossary).
Common Name
Alaska bentgrass
Alaska brome
Alaska oniongrass
alkaligrass
American glasswort
American searocket
apple moss (R, COSEWIC-E)
arbutus
arctic rush
awned haircap moss
badge moss
baldhip rose
baneberry
barren brome *
beach bindweed (U)
beach bluegrass (U)
beach pea
beach sand-spurry (B)
beaked sedge
bigleaf maple
bitter cherry
black cottonwood
black hawthorn
bleeding heart
blue wildrye
blue-eyed grass (U)
blue-eyed Mary
bog cranberry
bog-orchid
bog-rosemary
bracken fern
brittle prickly-pear cactus
Scientific Name
Agrostis aequivalis
Bromus sitchensis
Melica subulata
Puccinellia spp.
Salicornia virginica
Cakile edentula
Bartramia stricta
Arbutus menziesii
Juncus arcticus ssp.sitchensis
Polytrichum piliferum
Plagiomnium insigne
Rosa gymnocarpa
Actaea rubra
Bromus sterilis
Convolvulus soldanella
Poa confinis
Lathyrus japonicus
Spergularia macrotheca
Carex utriculata
Acer macrophyllum
Prunus emarginata
Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa
Crataegus douglasii
Dicentra formosa
Elymus glaucus
Sisyrinchium idahoense var. macounii
Collinsia parviflora
Oxycoccus oxycoccos
Platanehera spp.
Andromeda polifolia
Pteridium aquilinum
Opuntia fragilis
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 241
Appendix D: Plants of the SEI Study Area
Common Name
Scientific Name
broad-leaved shooting star
broad-leaved stonecrop
broom moss
buckbean
bull thistle*
California brome
California oatgrass
California poppy*
caloplaca lichen
Canada thistle*
Carolina meadow-foxtail (R)
cascara
cattail
Chamisso’s cotton-grass
chickweed monkey-flower (U)
chocolate lily
cleavers*
cloudberry
coast microseris (R)
coastal reindeer lichen
coastal strawberry
Columbia brome
common camas
common mare’s tail
common rush
common spike-rush
common vetch *
common water moss
contorted-pod evening-primrose (R)
cow-parsnip
creeping bentgrass*
creeping buttercup*
crowberry
death camas
deer fern
deltoid balsamroot (R, COSEWIC-E)
devil’s club
Douglas’ aster
Douglas-fir
dulichium
dull Oregon-grape
dune bentgrass (B)
dunegrass
dwarf owl-clover
early blue violet
early hairgrass*
Dodecatheon hendersonii
Sedum spathulifolium
Dicranum scoparium
Menyanthes trifoliata
Cirsium vulgare
Bromus carinatus
Danthonia californica
Eschscholtzia californica
Caloplaca sp.
Cirsium arvense
Alopecurus carolinianus
Rhamnus purshiana
Typha latifolia
Eriophorum chamissonis
Mimulus alsinoides
Fritillaria affinis
Galium aparine
Rubus chamaemorus
Microseris bigelovii
Cladina portentosa
Fragaria chiloensis
Bromus vulgaris
Camassia quamash
Hippuris vulgaris
Juncus effusus
Eleocharis palustris
Vicia sativa
Fontinalis antipyretica
Camissonia contorta
Heracleum maximum
Agrostis stolonifera
Ranunculus repens
Empetrum nigrum
Zygadenus venenosus
Blechnum spicant
Balsamorhiza deltoidea
Oplopanax horridus
Aster subspicatus
Pseudotsuga menziesii
Dulichium arundinaceum
Mahonia nervosa
Agrostis pallens
Elymus mollis
Triphysaria pusilla
Viola adunca
Aira praecox
242 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix D: Plants of the SEI Study Area
Common Name
Scientific Name
electrified cat’s tail moss
English holly*
English ivy*
entire-leaved gumweed
erect pigmyweed (R)
Eurasian water-milfoil*
European bittersweet*
European glasswort*
European gorse*
fairyslipper
false lily-of-the-valley
falsebox
farewell-to-spring (U)
fat bog moss
fawn lily
few-flowered shooting star
field chickweed
fleshy jaumea (B)
floating-leaved pondweed
fool’s onion
Gairdner’s yampah (U)
Garry oak
Geyer’s onion (R)
giant chain fern (U)
giant knotweed*
gold star (U)
goldenback fern (U)
graceful arrow-grass (R)
grand fir
grass-leaved pondweed
great burnet
great camas
greater bladderwort
green sedge
green-sheathed sedge (B)
hairy honeysuckle
hairy manzanita (U)
hairy screw moss
hairy vetch*
hardhack
hard-stemmed bulrush
harvest brodiaea (U)
hedgehog dogtail*
Henderson’s checkermallow (B)
herb robert*
Himalyan blackberry*
Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus
Ilex aquifolium
Hedera helix
Grindelia integrifolia
Crassula connata var. connata
Myriophyllum spicatum
Solanum duleamara
Salicornia europaea
Ulex europaeus
Calypso bulbosa
Maianthemum dilatatum
Paxistima myrsinites
Clarkia amoena
Sphagnun papillosum
Erythronium spp.
Dodecatheon pulchellum
Cerastium arvense
Jaumea carnosa
Potamogeton natans
Triteleia hyacinthina
Perideridia gairdneri
Quercus garryana
Allium geyeri var. tenerum
Woodwardia fimbriata
Polygonum sachalinense
Crocidium multicaule
Pentagramma triangularis
Triglochin concinnum
Abies grandis
Potamogeton gramineus
Sanguisorba officinalis
Camassia leichtlinii
Utricularia vulgaris
Carex viridula
Carex feta
Lonicera hispidula
Arctostaphylos columbiana
Tortula ruralis
Vicia hirsuta
Spiraea douglasii
Scirpus lacustris
Brodiaea coronaria
Cynosurus echinatus
Sidalcea hendersonii
Geranium robertianum
Rubus discolor
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 243
Appendix D: Plants of the SEI Study Area
Common Name
hoary rock moss
Hooker’s onion (U)
Hooker’s willow
Howell’s montia (U)
Howell’s triteleia (R)
huckleberry
humped bladderwort (U)
Idaho fescue
Indian hellebore
Indian plum
Indian’s-dream fern (U)
inflated sedge
junegrass
juniper haircap moss
Kentucky bluegrass*
king gentian
kinnikinnick
Labrador tea
lady fern
lanky moss
large leafy moss
large-headed sedge (U)
large-leaved avens
Lemmon’s needlegrass (U)
lettuce lung lichen
licorice fern
lodgepole pine
long-stoloned sedge (U)
low birch
Lyngby’s sedge
Macoun’s meadowfoam (U, COSEWIC-SC)
Menzies’ larkspur
Menzies’ tree moss
miner’s lettuce
mountain sweet-cicely
narrow-leaved cotton-grass
nodding onion
Nootka rose
northern adder’s tongue (R)
northern starflower
Nuttall’s quillwort (U)
oceanspray
orache*
orchard grass*
Oregon beaked moss
Pacific crab apple
Scientific Name
Racomitrium lanuginosum
Allium acuminatum
Salix hookeriana
Montia howellii
Triteleia howellii
Vaccinium spp.
Utricularia gibba
Festuca idahoensis
Veratrum viride
Oemleria cerasiformis
Aspidotis densa
Carex exsiccata
Koeleria macrantha
Polytrichum juniperinum
Poa pratensis
Gentiana sceptrum
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Ledum groenlandicum
Athryrium filix-femina
Rhytidiadelphus loreus
Rhizomnium glabrescens
Carex macrocephala
Geum macrophyllum
Stipa lemmonii
Lobaria oregana
Polypodium glycyrrhiza
Pinus contorta var. latifolia
Carex inops
Betula pumila var. glandulifera
Carex lyngbyei
Limnanthes macounii
Delphinium menziesii
Leucolepis acanthoneuron
Claytonia perfoliata
Osmorhiza berteroi
Eriophorum angustifolium
Allium cernuum
Rosa nutkana
Ophioglossum pusillum
Trientalis europaea ssp. artica
Isoetes nuttallii
Holodiscus discolor
Atriplex patula
Dactylis glomerata
Kindbergia oregana
Malus fusca
244 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix D: Plants of the SEI Study Area
Common Name
Pacific ninebark
Pacific sanicle
Pacific water-parsley
Pacific willow
palmate coltsfoot
pathfinder
pearly everlasting
phantom orchid (R)
poison oak (B)
poverty clover (U)
purple loosestrife*
purple peavine
purple-leaved willowherb
rattlesnake plantain
red alder
red elderberry
red fescue
red huckleberry
red-osier dogwood
reed canary grass
ribbed bog moss
rip-gut brome*
roadside rock moss
Rocky Mountain juniper (U)
rose campion*
round-leaved sundew
rusty-haired saxifrage
salal
salmonberry
sand-dune sedge (B)
Saskatoon
satin-flower
saxifrage
scalepod (R)
Scotch broom*
Scouler’s corydalis (R)
Scouler’s hairbell
Scouler’s willow
sea arrow-grass
sea blush
sea tar lichen
seabeach sandwort
seacoast bulrush
seashore bluegrass (U)
seashore lupine (U)
seashore saltgrass
Scientific Name
Physocarpus capitatus
Sanicula crassicaulis
Oenanthe sarmentosa
Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra
Petasites frigidus var. palmatus
Adenocaulon bicolor
Anaphalis maragaritacea
Cephalanthera austinae
Rhus diversiloba
Trifolium depauperatum
Lythrum salicaria
Lathyrus nevadensis
Ebilobium ciliatum
Goodyera oblongifolia
Alnus rubra
Sambucus racemosa
Festuca rubra
Vaccinium parvifolium
Cornus stolonifera
Phalaris arundinacea
Aulacomnium palustre
Bromus rigidus
Racomitrium canescens
Juniperus scopulorum
Lychnis coronaria
Drosera rotundifolia
Saxifraga rufidula
Gaultheria shallon
Rubus spectabilis
Carex pansa
Amelanchier alnifolia
Olsynium douglasii var. douglasii
Saxifraga spp.
Idahoa scapigera
Cytisus scoparius
Corydalis scouleri
Campanula scouleri
Salix scouleriana
Triglochin maritimum
Plectritis congesta
Verrucaria maura
Honckenya peploides
Scirpus maritimus
Poa macrantha
Lupinus littoralis
Distichlis spicata
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 245
Appendix D: Plants of the SEI Study Area
Common Name
seaside birdsfoot trefoil (R)
seaside kidney lichen
seaside plantain
seaside rein orchid (U)
self-heal
semaphore grass (B)
shooting star
shore pine
short-stemmed sedge
sickle moss
silver burweed
silver hairgrass*
silverweed
Sitka sedge
Sitka spruce
Sitka willow
skunk cabbage
slender beaked moss
slender plantain
slender wooly-heads (R)
slimleaf onion (U)
slough sedge
small red peat moss
small-flowered alumroot
small-flowered forget-me-not
small-flowered wood rush
Smith’s fairybells (B)
snake-root (R)
snowberry
soft brome*
spreading stonecrop
spring-gold
spurge-laurel*
step moss
stinging nettle*
stink currant
strawberry
sundew
swamp gentian
sweet vernalgrass*
sword fern
tall mannagrass
tall Oregon grape
tapered rush
thimbleberry
three-leaved foamflower
Scientific Name
Lotus formosissimus
Nephroma laevigatum
Plantago maritima ssp. juncoides
Pipera maritima
Prunella vulgaris
Pleuropogon refractus
Dodecatheon spp.
Pinus contorta var. contorta
Carex brevicaulis
Drepanocladus uncinatus
Ambrosia chamissonis
Aira caryophyllea
Potentilla anserina
Carex sitchensis
Picea sitchensis
Salix sitchensis
Lysichiton americanum
Kindbergia praelonga
Plantago elongata
Psilocarphus tenellus
Allium amplectens
Carex obnupta
Sphagnum capillifolium
Heuchera micrantha
Myosotis laxa
Luzula parviflora
Disporum smithii
Sanicula arctopoides
Symphoricarpos albus
Bromus hordeaceus
Sedum divergens
Lomatium utriculatum
Daphne laureola
Hylocomium splendens
Urtica dioica ssp. dioica
Ribes bracteosum
Fragaria spp.
Drosera spp.
Gentiana douglasiana
Anthoxanthum odoratum
Polystichum munitum
Glyceria elata
Mahonia aquifolium
Juncus acuminatus
Rubus parviflorus
Tiarella trifoliata
246 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix D: Plants of the SEI Study Area
Common Name
thrift (U)
tiger lily
timothy*
tiny mousetail
tomcat clover
Tracy’s romanzoffia (B)
trailing blackberry
trembling aspen
trillium
tufted hairgrass
twinflower
two-coloured lupine (U)
Vancouver Island beggarticks (U)
vanilla leaf
wall lettuce*
Wallace’s selaginella
water sedge
water smartweed
water-pepper (B)
water-plantain
water-plantain buttercup (R, COSEWIC-E)
watershield
western bog-laurel
western buttercup
western fescue
western flowering dogwood
western hemlock
western redcedar
western trumpet honeysuckle
western white pine
western yew
white beak-rush
white bog-orchid
white fawn lily
white hawkweed
white-topped aster (R, COSEWIC-T)
Willow
woolly eriophyllum
yarrow
yellow montane violet (R, COSEWIC-T)
yellow pond-lily
yellow sand verbena (U)
yellow-flag iris*
yerba buena
Scientific Name
Armeria maritima
Lilium columbianum
Phleum pratense
Myosurus minimus
Trifolium tridentatum
Romanzoffia tracyi
Rubus ursinus
Populus tremuloides
Trillium ovatum
Deschampsia cespitosa ssp. beringensis
Linnaea borealis
Lupinus bicolor
Bidens amplissima
Achlys triphylla
Lactuca muralis
Selaginella wallacei
Carex aquatilis
Polygonum amphibium
Polygonum hydropiperoides
Alisma triviale
Ranunculus alismifolius
Brasenia schreberi
Kalmia microphylla ssp. occidentalis
Ranunculus occidentalis
Festuca occidentalis
Cornus nuttallii
Tsuga heterophylla
Thuja plicata
Lonicera ciliosa
Pinus monticola
Taxus brevifolia
Rhynchospora alba
Platanthera dilatata var. dilatata
Erythronium oregonum
Hieracium albiflorum
Aster curtus
Salix spp.
Eriophyllum lanatum var. lanatum
Achillea millefolium
Viola praemorsa
Nuphar polysepalum
Abronia latifolia
Iris pseudacorus
Satureja douglasii
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 247
Appendix E: SEI Site Nomination Form
Appendix E: SEI Site Nomination Form
This form is designed to allow individuals, organisations, or municipal governments to nominate
sensitive ecosystem sites that are not currently included in the SEI maps or database. The form and
location map should be forwarded to the Conservation Data Centre at Ministry of Environment,
Land and Parks, PO Box 9344, Stn. Prov. Govt., Victoria, B.C.V8T 9M1 tel: (250) 387-0732;
fax: (250) 387-2733.
The nominating individual should be familiar with the nine ecosystem type definitions for the SEI.
Conservation Data Centre staff can be contacted for more information on ecosystem type definitions.
Name of Nominator: ______________________________________________________________
Address and Contact Numbers of Nominator: ________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
Site Location (please provide a description of the site location and include a photocopy of map
location at 1:20,000; air photos are also useful):
Regional District / Municipality: ____________________________________________________
Description of Site Location: ______________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
Proposed Ecosystem Type(s): ________________________ Code: ______________________
Vegetation Description: ____________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
Wildlife Observations: ____________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
Adjacent land uses: ______________________________________________________________
Known threats: __________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
Land status / Ownership: __________________________________________________________
Comments: ______________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
248 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix F: SEI Update Form
Appendix F: SEI Update Form
SENSITIVE ECOSYSTEMS INVENTORY
EAST VANCOUVER ISLAND AND GULF ISLANDS
INFORMATION CHANGE
This form is intended to provide updated information on areas and polygons that may have changed since
the original survey in 1993. Please state whether change is due to disturbance, change in vegetation
cover, development, elimination of sensitive ecosystem or other cause. Date: _____________________
Source of Information Name
______________________________________________________
Address______________________________________________________
Phone ______________________________________________________
Study Area ____________________ Capital Region District (CRD), Cowichan Valley (CVRD),
Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN), Comox/Strathcona (CSRD), Islands Trust (IT)
Check one: Addition of Polygon __ Modification of Existing Polygon__ Elimination of Polygon__
N.B. If change involves addition of new polygon(s), please contact Conservation Data Centre for
additional field forms
General Location
________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
Polygon # ______________________________
Change __________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
__________________________________________________________________________________
Provide sketch map of change (attach additional sheet)
Ground photos______ Aerial photos________ Maps ______ are included with this form
Send information to:
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Coordinator
Conservation Data Centre
Ministry of Environment Lands and Parks
Resource Inventory Branch, Wildlife Inventory Section
Box 9344 Station Provincial Government
Victoria, B.C. V8W 9M1
Fax: (250) 387-2733 Phone: (250) 387-0732
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 249
Appendix G: Groundtruthing Forms
Appendix G: Groundtruthing Forms
GROUNDTRUTHING FORM - UPLANDS
I.D. NO. (prelim):
MAP SHEET:
FINAL I.D. NO.
ECOSYSTEM CODE:
LOCATION:
AIR PHOTO(S):
GROUND PHOTO(S):
SOIL UNIT:
SURVEY DATE:
SURVEYORS:
Landscape condition:
___ Unfragmented (< 5% of landscape fragmented)
___ Partly fragmented (5-25% landscape fragmentation)
___ Highly fragmented (> 25% landscape fragmentation)
POLYGON DESCRIPTION:
Uniformity:
Degree of environmental uniformity: _______High _______Medium ______Low
Degree of vegetation uniformity:
_______High _______Medium ______Low
Environmental characteristics:
_______%Slope _______Aspect _______Elevation _______Mesoslope
_______Moisture Regime _______Nutrient Regime _______Drainage
Ecosystem type(s):
Forested Site Association(s): __________________________________________________
Non-forested Ecosystem(s): ____________________________________________________
Ecological Plot No. (where applicable):_______________________
Disturbance History (natural):
____Fire ____Windthrow ____Disease ____Animal Use ____Erosion ____Other
Disturbance History (anthropogenic):
____Logging ____Grazing ____Agriculture ____Construction ____Recreation ____Other
Adjacent land uses: ______________________________________________________________
Known threats: __________________________________________________________________
Comments: ______________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
Wildlife Observation: ______________________________________________________________
SKETCH:
250 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix G: Groundtruthing Forms
VEGETATION DESCRIPTION - UPLANDS
Vegetation Type
(% total layer)
Dominant Species
(% each)
Coniferous trees (core, dbh of dominant age class) ________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Hardwood trees____________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Tall shrub ________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Low shrub ________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Forb ____________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Grass ____________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Moss/Lichen ______________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Non-vegetated ____________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Introduced spp. ____________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Voucher specimens: ________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 251
Appendix G: Groundtruthing Forms
GROUNDTRUTHING FORM - WETLANDS
I.D. NO. (prelim):
MAP SHEET:
FINAL I.D. NO.
ECOSYSTEM CODE:
LOCATION:
AIR PHOTO(S):
GROUND PHOTO(S):
SOIL UNIT:
SURVEY DATE:
SURVEYORS:
Landscape condition:
___ Unfragmented (< 5% of landscape fragmented)
___ Partly fragmented (5-25% landscape fragmentation)
___ Highly fragmented (> 25% landscape fragmentation)
POLYGON DESCRIPTION:
Uniformity:
Degree of environmental uniformity: _______High _______Medium ______Low
Degree of vegetation uniformity:
_______High _______Medium ______Low
Environmental characteristics:
_______Elevation _______Mineral Soil _______Organic Soil
Disturbance History (natural):
_______Fire _______Flooding _______Animal Use _______Erosion _______Other
Disturbance History (anthropogenic):
_______Water Level Control _______Grazing _______Agriculture _______Dyking
_______Dredging _______Pollutants (Dump) _______Recreation _______Other
Adjacent land uses: ______________________________________________________________
Known threats: __________________________________________________________________
Comments: ______________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
Wildlife Observation: ______________________________________________________________
Fish Present:________ Fish Not Detected:________
CLASSIFICATION OF WETLAND: Ecoplot No.:
Hydrology: ______________________________________________________________________
Wetland class (%): ________________________________________________________________
Inflow/Outflow:
_______Photo-interpreted
_______Fieldchecked
SKETCH:
252 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
_______Not verified
Appendix G: Groundtruthing Forms
VEGETATION DESCRIPTION - WETLANDS
Vegetation Type
(% total layer)
Dominant Species
(% each)
Coniferous trees (core, dbh of dominant age class) ________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Hardwood trees____________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Tall shrub ________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Low shrub ________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Forb ____________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Grass ____________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Rushes __________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Sedges __________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Mosses __________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Lichens __________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Floating aquatic __________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Submerged aquatic ________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Non-vegetated ____________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Introduced spp. ____________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Voucher specimens: ________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 253
Appendix G: Groundtruthing Forms
INSTRUCTIONS FOR COMPLETING SEI GROUNDTRUTHING FORMS
ID NO (prelim): Fill in Polygon ID number assigned at the air photo interpretation stage.
MAP SHEET: Fill in corresponding mapsheet number
FINAL ID NO: Leave blank; to be filled in after editing stage.
ECOSYSTEM: Fill in the ecosystem code(s) assigned during air photo interpretation.
LOCATION: Use the location name assigned during air photo interpretation.
AIR PHOTO(S): Fill in the air photo number(s) on which the polygon is delineated.
GROUND PHOTO(S): Fill in slide photo roll and numbers taken on site.
SOIL UNIT: Fill in the soil unit as noted in DEIF [Describing Ecosystems in the Field
(Luttmerding et al. 1990)]; this will help with the site interpretation.
SURVEY DATE: Fill in date of groundtruthing.
SURVEYORS: Enter the name (or initials) of the crew members filling out the forms.
Landscape condition: Describe the 500 ha surrounding the polygon being visited (basically the size
of one photo). Fragmentation refers to separation of the landscape by significant anthropogenic
influences, roads, hydro lines, developments, etc.
POLYGON DESCRIPTION:
Uniformity: Summarize the environmental characteristics of the polygon. For example: is this
polygon a complex of slope positions and land forms or a complex of vegetation patterns? Can it be
further divided into distinct polygons based on variability? Is the entire polygon on a steep south
facing slope or is there a transition from steep to gentle? Refer to DEIF. If there is a wide range of
mesoslope position, %slope or aspect, and these can be distinctly separated on the ground, then
consider breaking up the polygon. However, if any variability is distributed throughout the polygon,
then consider noting as a complex of 2 or more types (e.g. Forested ecosystems, CDFmm/01 and
CDFmm/04 in a mosaic, or a mosaic of Garry oak - Oceanspray and Carex inops - Racomitrium
community in the openings).
Disturbance History (natural): This field is designed to provide information on disturbances that
significantly impact the vegetation patterns within the polygon. Root rot centres, several blowdowns,
deer severely grazing on shrubs, slides, regular flooding, etc. all influence the vegetation
development and history. It is Important to distinguish between natural and introduced disturbances.
Use category “other” if nothing else fits and explain.
Disturbance History (anthropogenic): Use “other” and explain if not included here. Again, this
information can indicate artificial causes of changes in vegetation patterns and consequently
ecosystem structure and function.
Environmental characteristics:
This data will support ecosystem descriptions. Record Slope in percentage, Aspect in degrees,
Elevation in metres. For Mesoslope, Moisture, Nutrient and Drainage, refer to the definitions from
DEIF.
254 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix G: Groundtruthing Forms
The coding format to be used on the groundtruthing forms follows Mesoslope position; use CR-crest,
UP-upper slope, MD-midslope, LW-lower slope, TO-toe, DP-depression, LV-level, indicate range if
necessary. For Drainage use R-rapidly drained, W-well drained, M-moderately well drained, Iimperfectly drained, P-poorly drained, VP-very poorly drained.
For Moisture and Nutrient Regime use the numbers and terms from the Ministry of Forests Site
Interpretation manuals for your region.
e.g. 2-3(SD) Moisture VP(A) Nutrient
Use indicator species to support your site interpretation.
For wetlands, assess the first 50 cm of the soils using a soil auger, and tick mineral or organic on the
form.
Ecosystem type(s): Some polygons may contain both primary and secondary ecosystem
components which cannot be delineated separately (review the ‘uniformity’ assessment). If this is
the case, list separately on this line and indicate the % of the polygon each occupies. Describe the
vegetation for each ecosystem type separately. Indicate the distribution of ecosystems in the sketch.
If other ecosystems are represented only as minor inclusions, note in the comments field. Forested
site associations should be listed according to the Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification (e.g.
CWHxm1/02, CWHxm1/00).
If a full ecological plot is conducted, assign an number corresponding to DEIF plots that have been
completed for the polygon.
Adjacent land uses: Briefly describe land uses surrounding the polygon, farming, logging, sewage
treatment, etc.
Known threats: Briefly document any current knowledge or observations related to continued or
further threats to the continued existence of the ecosystem(s) in that polygon.
CLASSIFICATION OF WETLAND (use an approved classification system):
Hydrology: Use the classes as set out in the wetland classification system. If there is more than one
type of wetland in the polygon, list them separately.
Wetland class (%): Use the classes as set out in the classification system. If there is more than one
type of wetland in the polygon, list them separately and indicate % each occupies of the total
polygon. If there is more than one wetland vegetation type for the class indicated, note this
information. E.g. Marsh veg type A 20% and Marsh veg type B 80%. These two different marsh
vegetation types should be described in separate vegetation lists and their orientation indicated on
the sketch.
Inflow/Outflow: Indicate on the sketch and on the air photo (with a small arrow) the direction of
water flow in and out of the wetland(s) or polygon. If this is not visible on the photos and cannot be
determined on the ground use the “Not verified” checkoff.
SKETCH: Quickly sketch the polygon with the distribution of ecosystem association(s), landforms,
water flow, etc. Mark the point where a plot was completed or from which most notes were taken.
Mark North on the sketch and other features for orientation.
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 255
Appendix G: Groundtruthing Forms
VEGETATION DESCRIPTION (of sample plot):
Filling out this part of the Uplands groundtruthing form in not required if a DEIF vegetation plot
(ecoplot or reci plot) has been completed. Since the DEIF forms do not separate out wetland
vegetation layers, this part of the wetlands groundtruthing form should be filled out, in addition to
the DEIF (or reci) forms.
Vegetation Type: In the first column indicate the % cover of all species combined within the Layer
or vegetation category. e.g., Coniferous species present in the overstorey tree layer is 60% cover.
Dominant Species: An example could be as follows: the dominant species is Pseudotsuga menziesii
at 45% cover, Tsuga heterophylla is 30% and Thuja plicata another 25%. This percentage cover is to
be based on the 100% cover for the vegetation unit (sample plot) being described. For coniferous
species record the diameter at breast height and cored age of the most common age class. Indicate
which canopy layer this age class is in e.g. veterans, A1, A2 or A3 as in DEIF. If tree species
reappear in shrub, herb, grass or moss/lichen layers record their occurrence.
Use Latin names for all species, and use the 8 letter codes (first 4 letters of genus followed by first 3
letters of species, and one letter of subspecies if applicable, e.g. Vaccpar is Vaccinium parvifolium).
For tree species use the 2 letter codes as listed used by the Ministry of Forests. Use Qg for Garry
oak and Ra for arbutus, Mb for big leaf maple, At for trembling aspen.
Introduced vascular plants species must be recorded. Refer to Commonly Encountered Introduced
Plant Species of British Columbia (Appendix 3).
Voucher specimens: Prepare one collection sheet for each vascular plant in flower or in fruit
encountered in their study area. If specimens are collected in the polygon being checked record the
species collected (or the potential identification) and the collection number attached to the specimen.
256 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Appendix H: SEI Contacts
Appendix H: SEI Contacts
Environment Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service
Vancouver Island
Environment Canada
Canadian Wildlife Service,
Pacific and Yukon Region
3567 Island Highway West
Qualicum Beach, B.C.
V9K 2B7
Tel/fax: (250) 752-9611
Contact: Peggy Ward
web site: www.pyr.ec.gc.ca/wildlife/
RR 1, 5421 Robertson Road
Delta, B.C.
V4K 3N2
Tel: (604) 940-4700; Fax: (604) 946-7022
Contacts: Ken Brock, Trish Hayes.
web site: www.pyr.ec.gc.ca/wildlife/
Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks
Vancouver Island Regional Headquarters
Ministry of Environment, Land and Parks
Conservation Data Centre
2080A Labieux Road
Nanaimo, B.C., V9T 6E9
Tel: (250) 751-3100; Fax: (250) 751-3103
Contacts: Marlene Caskey, Bill Hubbard,
Trudy Chatwin
PO Box 9344, Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, B.C., V8T 9M1
Tel: (250) 387-0732; Fax: (250) 387-2733
email: [email protected]
web site: http://www.elp.gov.bc.ca/rib/wis/cdc/
Contacts: Jan Kirkby, Andrew Harcombe
To order maps:
To obtain field data:
Clover Point Cartographics
202 - 919 Fort Street
Victoria, B.C. g140
V8V 3K3
Tel: (250) 384-3537; Fax: (250) 384-2679
e-mail: [email protected]
[email protected]
(250) 387-0732
or
[email protected]
(250) 751-3236
SEI Web Site:
www.pyr.ec.gc.ca/wildlife/sei
OR
www.elp.gov.bc.ca/rib/wis/cdc/sei
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 257
Index
Index
A
Access
management tools, 30
Acquisition, 29
Advocacy, 182, 185
Agricultural Land Commission, 150
Agricultural Land Reserve Act, 200
Agriculture, 141
Air photos
scale of, 13
All-terrain vehicles, 23, 51, 60
Animal Control Bylaws, 177
Aquatic ecosystems, 8
Aquatic habitat, 89
Arbutus—Douglas-fir. See Woodland
ecosystems
Arbutus—Douglas-fir woodlands, 100
B
B. C. Assessment Act, 188
B. C. Conservation Data Centre
website, 10
B. C. Waterfowl Society, 187
Bats, 49, 119, 130
Best Management Practices, 153, 159, 161,
174, 221
Bibliography, 213–26
Biodiversity, 2, 7, 11, 38, 48, 58, 72, 88, 103,
118, 130
Biodiversity frameworks, 28
Biofiltration, 73
Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification
(BEC) System, 113
Blowdown, 22, 130
Blue-listed, 10, 36, 46, 49, 56, 68, 86, 98,
114, 119, 128, 139, 140, 141, 241
Bog. See Wetland ecosystems
Bowen and Gambier Local Trust Areas, 1
Brant Wildlife Festival, 12
Breakwaters, 24, 41, 52, 162, 163
Breeding, 21, 23, 25, 30, 32, 41, 42, 51, 53,
61, 62, 72, 79, 80, 91, 92, 106, 108, 121,
123, 130, 133, 134, 139, 140, 141, 157,
161, 162, 163, 164, 212
British Columbia Assets and Land
Corporation (BCAL), 199
Buffers, 30, 91, 105, 124, 131
coastal bluff ecosystems, 40
older forest ecosystems, 121
riparian ecosystems, 91
seasonally flooded agricultural field
ecosystems, 143
sparsely vegetated ecosystems, 50
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems, 60
wetland ecosystems, 76
woodland ecosystems, 105
Butterflies, 59, 104, 206
C
Canada Wildlife Act, 195
Canadian Biodiversity Strategy, 1, 3
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
(CEAA), 194
Capital Regional District
Green and Blue Spaces Strategy, 28
Capital Regional District Parks, 184
Carbon dioxide, 23
Cats, 21, 22, 133
CDFmm. See Coastal Douglas-fir Forests
Channel engineering, 24, 92
Charitable donation, 191
Cliffs, coastal. See Coastal bluff ecosystems
Cliffs, inland. See Sparsely vegetated
ecosystems
Climate, 23, 70
‘Climax’ successional stage, 10
Coastal bluff ecosystems, 35–42
Coastal Douglas-fir Forests (CDFmm), 113.
See Older forest ecosystems
Coastal Western Hemlock Forests
(CWHxm1), 113. See Older forest
ecosystems
Comox Valley, 142
Conservation
responsibility for, 4
Conservation covenants, 29, 153, 173, 178,
182, 184, 188, 189, 191, 201, 227
Conservation goals
258 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Index
other important ecosystems, 27
sensitive ecosystems, 27
Conservation management fund, 31, 61
COSEWIC, 36, 39, 46, 49, 56, 68, 86, 98, 104,
114, 119, 128, 139, 206, 241, 242, 244, 247
Costanza, 7, 8, 73, 215
CWHxm1. See Coastal Western Hemlock
Forests
D
Deforestation, 24, 25
Delta Agricultural Society, 187
Delta Farmland and Wildlife Trust (DFWT),
187
Development Approval Information (DAI),
150, 151, 158
Development guidelines, 92, 106, 121
all ecosystems, 32
coastal bluff ecosystems, 42
older forest ecosystems, 122
older second growth forest ecosystems, 134
riparian ecosystems, 93
sparsely vegetated ecosystems, 52
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems, 61
wetland ecosystems, 80
woodland ecosystems, 108
Development Permit Areas (DPA), 29, 150,
153, 157
Development Permits, 157–68
Disease, 25, 31, 112, 122, 135, 206
Disturbance
nesting or breeding areas, 30
Disturbance, natural, 24, 31, 45, 79, 84, 93,
112, 122, 133, 135, 156, 166, 168, 209
Docks, 24, 41, 154, 162, 163, 199
Dogs, 21, 177
DPA. See Development Permits
DPA guideline suggestions
all sensitive ecosystems, 157
coastal bluff ecosystems, 162
older forest ecosystems, 167
older second growth forest ecosystems, 169
riparian ecosystems, 165
seasonally flooded agricultural field
ecosystems, 170
sparsely vegetated ecosystems, 162
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems, 163
wetland ecosystems, 164
woodland ecosystems, 166
Drainage patterns, 24, 61, 107
Drinking water, 8, 25, 31
Ducks Unlimited, 142, 145, 214, 234
Ducks Unlimited Canada, 187
Dunsmuir, Robert, 4
E
Ecogical attributes. See also Fragility,
Biodiversity, Microhabitats, Rarity,
Specialised habitats
Ecological attributes
all SEI ecosystems, 10
coastal bluff ecosystems, 38
older forest ecosystems, 118
older second growth forest ecosystems, 130
riparian ecosystems, 88
seasonally flooded agricultural field
ecosystems, 139
sparsely vegetated ecosystems, 48
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems, 58
wetland ecosystems, 72
woodland ecosystems, 103
Ecological inventory, 32, 42, 52, 61, 80, 93,
108, 109, 134
Ecological Reserve, 29, 41, 203
Economic value
wetlands, 73
world’s ecosystems, 7
Ecosystem key, 237
Ecosystem planning. See also Greenways,
Official Community Plans, Regional
Growth Strategies, 28
Eco-tourism, 12, 59, 74, 141
Edge effects, 19, 20, 22, 30, 91, 121, 133, 221
Ehrenfeld, D. W., 27
Endangered species. See COSEWIC, Red-listed
species
Environmental Assessment Act (BCEAA),
194, 199
Environmental impacts. See also Landscape
fragmentation, Invasive species, Edge effects,
Global climate change.
coastal bluff ecosystems, 40
direct impacts, 23
indirect impacts, 24
management recommendations, 30
older forest ecosystems, 121
older second growth forest ecosystems, 133
riparian ecosystems, 92
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 259
Index
seasonally flooded agricultural field
ecosystems, 144
sparsely vegetated ecosystems, 50
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems, 60
wetland ecosystems, 77
woodland ecosystems, 106
Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESA), 29,
150, 207, 216, 219, 224, 225
Erosion, 24, 31, 36, 40, 41, 45, 50, 51, 52, 57,
60, 61, 73, 90, 93, 108, 109, 124, 135, 143,
153, 160, 161, 162, 163, 171, 174, 177,
178, 187
ESA, 151, 160, 172, 176, 177, 181, 185, 187,
188, 189, 190, 191, 207
Estuaries, 72. See Wetland ecosystems
Evapotranspiration, 24, 70, 77
F
Farm Practices Protection Act, 202
Federal Government
resources and organizations, 230
Federal Legislation, 194–96
Fen. See Wetland ecosystems
Fire suppression, 24, 58, 98
woodland ecosystems, 107
Fish Protection Act, 90, 160, 193, 201, 203
Fisheries Act, 90, 160, 175, 193, 194, 195
Flood protection, 74, 90
Flooding, 8, 24, 31, 51, 61, 71, 74, 77, 79, 84,
85, 93, 109, 137, 138, 140, 145, 155, 159,
164, 165, 170, 173, 206, 238, 240, 254
Floodplain. See Riparian ecosystems
Food chain, 25, 80, 89
Forest Land Commission, 200, 202
Forest Land Reserve (FLR) Act, 200
Forest Practices Code, 193, 199, 201
Forest products, 120, 131
Forestry, 119, 131
Fragility, 10, 38, 48, 58, 72
Friends of Brooks Point, 184
G
Garry oak. See Woodland ecosystems
Garry oak woodlands, 98
northern limit, 102
Genetic diversity, 20
Geographic Information System (GIS), 13
Georgia Basin, 70
Global climate change, 23
Glossary, 204–12
Goats, 21, 41, 92, 177
Grazing, 23, 78, 92, 98, 103, 106, 159, 177, 254
Green and Blue Spaces Strategy, 28
Green space, 11, 12, 39, 49, 59, 73, 90, 104,
131, 228
Greenhouse gases, 23, 76
Greenways, 11, 28, 228, 233
Grey squirrel, 22
Groundtruthing
procedures, 28
Groundtruthing form
instructions, 254
uplands, 250
wetlands, 252
Groundwater infiltration, 24, 77, 164
Growth Management Plan. See also Regional
Growth Strategies
Regional District of Nanaimo, 3
H
Habitat niches, 9, 32, 42, 53, 62, 72, 80, 88,
103, 104, 162, 163
Handshake agreements, 187
Hardin, Garret, 7
Health Act, 202
Horseback riding, 23, 41, 51, 60, 177
Horticultural industry, 12
Hydrologic regime, 107, 145
Hydrology, 19, 24, 76, 77, 80, 155, 164, 175
I
Inland cliffs and bluffs. See Sparsely vegetated
ecosystems
International obligation, 74
Introduced species, 10, 21, 106, 122, 144,
153, 241, 254
Invasive species, 11, 19, 20, 21, 30, 31, 51,
61, 78, 79, 91, 92, 98, 102, 105, 107, 121,
133, 160, 165
animals, 21
control methods, 30
plants, 21
woodland ecosystems, 106
Invasive species management zone, 31
Inventory results
all SEI ecosystems, table, 16
260 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Index
coastal bluff ecosystems, 37
older forest ecosystems, 116
older second growth forest ecosystems, 129
riparian ecosystems, 87
seasonally flooded agricultural field
ecosystems, 138
sparsely vegetated ecosystems, 47
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems, 57
wetland ecosystems, 70
woodland ecosystems, 102
Islands Trust Act, 183, 196
K
Kayaking, 12, 41
L
Land Act, 196, 199
Land donation, 191
Land grant, for railway, 4
Land Management Agreements, 187
Land ownership, 190
Land Title Act, 173, 178, 182, 188, 189, 222
Land Trust, 182, 183, 184, 185, 187, 227,
233, 234, 235
Landfills, 25
Landowners, 4, 29, 147, 184, 186, 190, 191,
227, 228
Landowners and other citizens
conservation tools, 181–92
Landscape fragmentation, 19, 20, 143, 250, 252
Legal tools, 187, 191
Leopold, Aldo, 10
Linkages, 20, 28, 89, 143, 153, 159, 167, 209
Livestock grazing, 92, 106, 122, 161
Lizards, 21, 39, 49
Local Area Plans, 13
Local governments
conservation tools, 149–79
resources and organisations, 231
M
Managed Forest Land, 150, 156, 157, 167,
169, 200, 202
Management recommendations
all sensitive ecosystems, 30
coastal bluff ecosystems, 40
older forest ecosystems, 120
older second growth forest ecosystems, 132
riparian ecosystems, 90
seasonally flooded agricultural field
ecosystems, 142
sparsely vegetated ecosystems, 50
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems, 60
wetland ecosystems, 75
woodland ecosystems, 105
Management tools, 25, 30, 107
Marsh. See Wetland ecosystems
Microclimate, 22, 30, 105, 207, 210
Microhabitats, 11, 32, 38, 42, 53, 58, 62, 162,
163
Migratory birds, 195
Migratory Birds Convention Act, 195
Millard - Piercy Watershed Management
Plan, 28
Millstream Creek Watershed Management
Plan, 28
Ministry of Highways and Transportation, 173
Mountain bikes, 23, 41, 51, 60, 78, 123
Municipal Act, 4, 151, 152, 153, 157, 172,
173, 174, 175, 176, 177, 178, 189, 196,
197, 200, 201, 203, 222, 228
N
Nanaimo and Area Land Trust, 184
National Wildlife Areas (NWA), 195, 196, 203
Natural capital, 2
Nesting, 21, 22, 24, 30, 32, 39, 41, 42, 49, 51,
53, 61, 62, 78, 79, 80, 91, 92, 103, 106, 108,
119, 121, 123, 130, 133, 134, 140, 153, 154,
157, 161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 166, 169, 170, 210
Nesting season, 24, 41, 51, 61, 78
Nitrates, 25
Noise, 22, 91, 105, 121, 143, 202
Non-government organisations, 233
O
OCP policy suggestions
all sensitive ecosystems, 152
coastal bluff ecosystems, 154
older forest ecosystems, 156
riparian ecosystems, 155
sparsely vegetated ecosystems, 154
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems, 155
wetland ecosystems, 155
woodland ecosystems, 155
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 261
Index
Official Community Plans (OCP), iii, 13, 28,
152–56, 152
Metchosin, 3
Older forest ecosystems, 111–24
Older second growth forest ecosystems, 127–35
Old-growth forests, 111
Other important ecosystems
definition, 9
importance of, 9
table, 9
Outdoor recreation, 11, 74, 104, 141
P
Pacific Coast Joint Venture (PCJV), 74
Pacific Flyway, 139
Partnerships, 178
Peatlands. See Wetland ecosystems
Pender Islands Conservancy Association, 184
Peripheral populations, 104
Pesticide Control Act, 202
Pesticides, 25, 171
Plants of the SEI Study Area
list, 241
Pollution, 25, 41, 78, 209, 213
Population growth, 2, 13
Private Land Forest Practices Regulation, 150,
156, 157, 167, 169, 193, 202
Private property, 29
profit à prendre, 190
Property values, 12, 39, 49
Protecting ecosystems, 29
Provincial Government
resources and organisations, 230
Provincial Legislation, 196–203
R
Rare natural plant communities, 10
Rare species, 10
Rare species, provincially. See Red-listed
species
Rarity, 10, 38, 48, 58, 72, 103, 118
Red-listed, 10, 36, 39, 46, 49, 56, 59, 66, 68,
69, 70, 79, 84, 85, 86, 88, 93, 98, 101, 104,
114, 115, 119, 128, 130, 138, 139, 141, 150,
205, 211, 241, 245, 246
Regional District of Comox-Strathcona
Millard-Piercy Watershed Management Plan, 28
Regional District of Nanaimo
Millstream Creek Watershed Management
Plan, 28
Regional governments
resources and organisations, 231
Regional Growth Strategies, 13, 28, 197
Research and nature education, 11
Resource extraction, 12
Riparian ecosystems, 83–94
Riparian zone, 83
Rock climbing, 41, 51
Rocky islets, 9, 35, 37, 38, 39, 162, 237. See
Coastal bluff ecosystems
Rural Land Use Bylaw, 152, 172
S
Sand and gravel spits. See Sparsely vegetated
ecosystems
Sand dunes. See Sparsely vegetated ecosystems
Scenic values, 11, 39, 59
Seasonally flooded agricultural field
ecosystems, 137–45
SEI Contacts, 257
SEI field data, 257
SEI maps, 257
SEI Site Nomination Form, 248
SEI Update Form, 249
SEI Web Site, 257
Senior government responsibilities, 193–203
Sensitive ecosystems. See also Coastal bluff,
Sparsely vegetated, Terrestrial herbaceous,
Wetland, Riparian, Woodland and Older forest
ecosystems.
definition, 8
importance of, 8, 10
table, 9
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory (SEI), 13–16
field verification, 14
inventory results, 15
map formats, 15
map scale, 13
minimum mapping size, 14
primary and secondary ecosystems, 15
results, table, 16
study area, 13
Septic systems, 25
Shallow water. See Wetland ecosystems
Sheep, 21, 41, 92, 177
262 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
Index
Shorebirds, 49, 137, 140
Site assessment, 30
Slugs, 21, 106
Snakes, 21, 39, 49, 208
Socio-economic values. See also Eco-tourism,
Green space, Horticultural industry, Outdoor
recreation, Property values, Research and
nature education, Resource extraction,
Scenic values
all SEI ecosystems, 11
coastal bluff ecosystems, 39
older forest ecosystems, 119
older second growth forest ecosystems, 131
riparian ecosystems, 90
seasonally flooded agricultural field
ecosystems, 141
sparsely vegetated ecosystems, 49
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems, 59
wetland ecosystems, 73
woodland ecosystems, 104
Soil, 23, 35, 40, 108, 128, 177, 211, 252
Soil moisture, 24, 61, 77, 83, 84, 85, 88, 89,
97, 113
Soils Bylaws, 177
Soils removal or compaction, 23
Songbirds, 49
Sparsely vegetated ecosystems, 45–53
Specialised habitats, 11, 38, 48, 58, 103, 119
Spiritual value, older forests, 119
Spits. See Sparsely vegetated ecosystems
Stewardship, 29, 142, 161, 178, 181, 182, 183,
185, 186, 191, 201, 227, 228
Stream and Drainage Policies and Bylaws, 175
Streamkeepers, 12, 228
Structural stages, 84
Subdivision approvals, 173
Subdivision Servicing Bylaws, 174
Successional functions and processes, 31, 41,
52, 61, 133
Swamp. See Wetland ecosystems
Swan Lake, 12, 139, 234, 235
Swan Lake Christmas Hill Sanctuary Society,
187
The Cowichan Community Land Trust
Society, 184
The Islands Trust Fund, 183
The Land Conservancy of BC, 184
The Land Trust Alliance of British Columbia,
185
The Nature Conservancy of Canada, 184
The Nature Trust of British Columbia, 183
The Stewardship Series, 228
Trail bikes, 23, 51
Trails, 61, 94, 106, 109, 122, 161, 224
Trampling vegetation, 23, 78, 144
Tree and Landscaping Policies and Bylaws, 176
Trembling aspen. See Woodland ecosystems
Trembling aspen woodlands, 101
Trumpeter Swan Management Plan, 142
U
United Nations Environment Program, 2, 23, 76
V
Vegetation damage, 23, 106
Vegetation removal, 23
Vegetation, characteristic
Arbutus—Douglas-fir woodlands, 100
bog, 66
coastal bluff ecosystems, 36
Coastal Douglas-fir forests, 114
Coastal Western Hemlock forests, 115
dunes and spits, 46
fen, 67
Garry oak woodlands, 99
inland cliffs, 47
marsh, 68
riparian, 86
shallow water wetland, 69
swamp, 69
terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems, 56
Trembling aspen woodlands, 101
wet meadow, 70
Vernal pools, 38, 59, 212
W
T
Tax advantages, 191
Terrestrial herbaceous ecosystems, 55–62
Waste Management Act, 202
Water Act, 160, 175, 193, 198, 201, 202
Water pollution, 25
Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual 263
Index
Water quality, 25, 31, 41, 73, 75, 78, 80, 89,
155, 164
importance of, 31
Water storage, 140
Waterfowl, 79, 137, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143,
145
Watershed planning, 201, 203
Wet meadow. See Wetland ecosystems
Wetland ecosystems, 65–80
habitat loss, 71
Wetlandkeepers, 12
Wildflower meadows. See Terrestrial
herbaceous ecosystems
Wildflower species, 21
Wildlife Act, 193, 198
Wildlife corridors, 9, 20, 28, 89, 106, 159,
165, 174
Wildlife disturbance, 23
Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), 198
Wildlife viewing, 11
Wilson, E. O., 3
Windthrow, 30, 31, 84, 91, 93, 112, 121, 122,
135, 165, 166, 167
Winter cover crops, 143
Woodland ecosystems, 97–109
World Wide Fund for Nature, 75
Z
Zoning bylaws, 172
264 Sensitive Ecosystems Inventory Conservation Manual
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