Board urges cautious management of Haida Gwaii goshawks

VICTORIA – The Forest Practices Board is urging cautious management of northern goshawk habitat on Haida Gwaii, to allow time for ongoing planning processes to address goshawk management.

Goshawks are large hawks that depend upon mature forests for nesting. They feed on a variety of larger birds and mammals, such as red squirrels, blue grouse and marbled murrelets. Research indicates the northern goshawks on Haida Gwaii may be genetically isolated from the mainland populations, and their long-term viability is uncertain.

The board’s conclusions are from a closing letter sent to the Haida Gwaii Group of the Sierra Club. The environmental organization had filed a complaint alleging that government’s strategy was not adequate to preserve the goshawk population on Haida Gwaii. The complaint alleged that inadequate protection of foraging habitat, a one per cent timber-supply cap on protection measures, lack of co-ordination between licensees operating in the area, and failure to require nest surveys prior to harvesting could put goshawk habitat at risk.

“We found there was substance to the complainant’s concerns, as there is no current strategy to protect goshawk habitat at the landscape level,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “However, these concerns can be addressed through the ongoing Haida Gwaii land use planning process and the anticipated recovery strategy by the Northern Goshawk Recovery Team.”

The draft Haida Gwaii land use plan includes several recommendations for goshawk protection, such as developing a comprehensive inventory of goshawk nest locations and foraging habitat; protecting goshawk nest areas in a 200-hectare reserve; and managing goshawk territories to maintain suitable foraging habitat. The recovery team is working to determine how many pairs of goshawks are required to ensure a viable population on Haida Gwaii.

“There is reason for optimism that these processes, once complete, will result in positive results for the northern goshawk on Haida Gwaii,” said Fraser. “In the meantime, however, we urge the district to continue to be cautious in approving new harvesting plans that could impact this vulnerable and isolated population.”

The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog that reports to the public about compliance with the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) and the achievement of its intent. The board’s main roles under FRPA are:

  • Auditing forest practices of government and licence holders on public lands.
  • Auditing government enforcement of FRPA .
  • Investigating public complaints.
  • Undertaking special investigations of forestry issues.
  • Participating in administrative appeals.
  • Providing reports on board activities, findings and recommendations.

Erik Kaye

Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250-356-1586 or 1-800-994-5899