Comprehensive plan needed to save sensitive coastal plant communities

VICTORIA– The Forest Practices Board is recommending that the provincial government promptly finalize and implement an overall stewardship strategy for the coastal Douglas fir ecosystem (CDF) on Southeast Vancouver Island.

The recommendation was made in a newly released board report, Woodlot Harvesting and Red-listed Plant Communities in the Coastal Douglas-fir Ecosystem of Vancouver Island.  The report is the result of a public complaint about approval of timber harvesting on several woodlots in the CDF.

“The most abundant red-listed plant community in the CDF is recognized by ecologists as globally imperiled, and assessment of the immediate danger to it and the many other red-listed CDF plant communities is crucial to their survival,” said board chair Bruce Fraser.

“Because the majority of the coastal Douglas fir ecosystem is located on private land, where government has limited control over logging practices, it is especially important that assessment and protection of these endangered plant communities occurs in a timely manner in what little coastal Douglas fir remains on Crown land.”

When it approved the woodlot plans, the forest district relied on its own interpretation of the abundance of red-listed plant communities and their potential tolerance to forest practices, and weighed the apparent risks with those of the tenure holder’s harvesting rights.

However, the board found that since there are no effective stewardship mechanisms in place for red-listed plant communities in the CDF, the appraisal of those risks is unreliable.

Government agencies have done some landscape-level assessment of red-listed plant communities, are currently mapping the CDF ecologically, and are progressing toward an overall stewardship strategy. The board’s view is that a stewardship strategy is needed soon– one that encompasses the full range of red-listed plant communities and the habitats and species they support.

In 2005, the Board recommended that no further logging approvals should be awarded in the CDF until site assessments for endangered plant communities were done. Subsequently, BC Timber Sales stopped selling wood in the CDF.  However, today’s published report shows that the Ministry of Forests and Range continues to approve some timber harvesting in the CDF without the recommended site assessments.

The board continues to maintain the intent of the earlier recommendation – that effective planning should consider the location and condition of red-listed plant communities rather than assuming they can’t be avoided, or that potential harvesting impacts can’t be lessened.

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board:

  • audits forest and range practices on public lands;
  • audits appropriateness of government enforcement;
  • investigates public complaints;
  • undertakes special investigations of current forestry issues;
  • participates in administrative appeals; and
  • makes recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.


Helen Davies

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