Biodiversity & Ecosystem Conservation
The first and most important pillar of Ecosystem Based Management is: biodiversity & ecosystem conservation
In our continuing series on Ecosystem Based Management, today we'll focus on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Conservation, which along with Social and Economic benefits to the community, is one of the three key pillars of EBM. Achieving a balance between all 3 is ideal, with Biodiversity and Ecosystem Conservation at the top of the list as the others rely upon it.
For the past year, our team has worked to understand and accurately map existing ecosystems in the Community Forest, focusing on at-risk species. What decisions must we make today to protect native plants and animals from further population decline, and help in their recovery? Old forests are central to this effort, as there is little of it left - especially at low elevations. Due to human activity and fire, old forest is significantly underrepresented - we don't have nearly as much as we should. Time is the only remedy, so the planning we do today matters. The biologists we work with understand which characteristics of old forests make good habitat, so a critical part of their work has been identifying the best candidate areas to preserve so they may become old growth in time.
How much do old forests matter?
A lot. They provide unique habitat for vulnerable red and blue-listed plant and animal communities who depend on the conditions only old forests provide. When we talk about preserving areas to become old growth, the nuances of what creates that habitat and those conditions become very important. You can walk into a forest that feels old, but how do we define that from a perspective that supports biodiversity? The scientific methodology we use is called a Forest Attribute Score, which was developed to implement the Great Bear Rainforest order, and lists measurable characteristics that make the best old forest habitat:
Large older trees - in our case, large veteran Firs that survived fires and logging
Standing dead or dying trees
Variety of tree heights
Fallen logs on the forest floor
Natural disturbance influence on regeneration (ie. fire, disease)
EBM also recognizes that humans are part of forest ecosystems. Our EBM planning will look next at how our communities interact with our forests, including our need for water, recreation, harvesting timber and other plants, and shishalh Nation's traditional needs, all of which contribute to the health of our communities.
Red List species are threatened, endangered or extirpated. Blue List species are of special concern because they have characteristics that make them particularly vulnerable to natural or human-caused disturbances, including climate change.
Friends in the Forest, Introducing Laurie Kremsater
Laurie L. Kremsater is helping lead the scientific planning for Ecosystem Based Management in our Community Forest. Laurie has previously worked with Madrone Environmental, the UBC Centre for Applied Conservation Research, the Clayquot Scientific Panel and as a planner for the Great Bear Rainforest.
Laurie does research in Ecology, Wildlife & Forestry and her research publications cover topic important to everyone, like predicting climate change influences on forest ecology and habitat quality, forestry impacts on biodiversity and recovering old growth in coastal forests. She is also a wonderful person and shares her learnings generously in fascinating presentations for our community and others. You can find some of these online including on our YouTube channel