Clear government direction needed to protect Marbled Murrelet

VICTORIA – Clear government direction and removing constraints on habitat protection are key priorities for preserving the threatened marbled murrelet on B.C.’s south coast, according to a Forest Practices Board special report released today.

The report is a follow-up to a 2003 board report on marbled murrelets. Today’s report found that some positive steps have been taken over the last year, such as industry-led measures to identify and protect key murrelet habitat, but there is still no specific government objective for marbled murrelet conservation. Further, the capacity to create wildlife habitat areas in order to protect murrelet nesting sites from logging is constrained by an arbitrary one per cent cap on timber supply impact.

“Government could improve the situation by setting clear and measurable objectives for marbled murrelet habitat on the south coast,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “All the available information indicates diminishing marbled murrelet populations over time. Despite this trend, forestry operations continue to be approved in sensitive habitat areas, further reducing opportunities for murrelet protection.”

The report, entitled A Lack of Direction – Improving Marbled Murrelet Conservation Under the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA), summarizes the latest science available on murrelet population and habitat needs, as well as the conservation tools available under FRPA.

The report found that murrelets are most threatened on the southern mainland coast of B.C. However, under current government policy it is very difficult to bring in new protection measures in this area, since the one per cent timber supply cap for establishing new wildlife habitat areas has already been reached. Further, land use planning is complete for much of the south coast, leaving little opportunity to create new protected areas to preserve marbled murrelet habitat.

“Designation of additional wildlife habitat areas is the best tool available to preserve murrelet habitat on the south coast,” said Fraser. “A review of the one per cent timber supply constraint on wildlife habitat areas is long overdue. If the review confirms murrelet conservation objectives cannot be met under the one per cent cap, the cap will need to be adjusted if the necessary habitat protection measures are to be implemented.”

The report makes the following recommendations:

  • Government should set a clear, measurable objective for MAMU habitat conservation along the south coast of BC, including the Queen Charlotte Islands/Haida Gwaii.
  • Government should analyze the one percent policy cap, and section 7 notices under FRPA, to determine whether they are having a negative effect on Identified Wildlife species such as MAMU on the south coast. If so, adjustments should be made such as increasing or re-apportioning the impact.
  • Government should support expansion of operational funding of the collaboration between the licensees, MWLAP and universities to identify actual MAMU-utilized nesting habitat and propose habitat conservation measures that balance the need to conserve the best quality habitat with the need to avoid unnecessary disruptions on timber supply and on their planned forest practices.

The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog that reports to the public about compliance with the Forest Practices Code and the achievement of its intent. The board’s mandate has been retained under the new Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA). 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 / 1 800 994-5899