Policy Review Required to Protect Marbled Murrelets
VICTORIA – A review of government policy on protecting wildlife habitat and more collaboration between government and industry are needed to protect the threatened marbled murrelet, the Forest Practices Board reported today.
The report investigated a complaint by Carmanah Forestry Society that approval of logging near Jordan River, Vancouver Island, would reduce or eliminate murrelet habitat. The logging was approved in an amendment to a forest development plan prepared by Western Forest Products for its Jordan River operations.
In this specific case, the board found the district manager reasonably concluded the approval would adequately manage and conserve murrelet. It also praised the licensee’s proactive approach to identifying potential habitat areas, but urged the licensee to work in closer collaboration with the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, the agency responsible for murrelet conservation.
However, the investigation reaffirmed general concerns noted in earlier board reports with respect to government policy imposing a one per cent timber supply constraint on the creation of wildlife habitat areas, which are key tools for preserving murrelet habitat.
“This report demonstrates that licensees and government agencies are finding it challenging to provide sufficient protection for murrelets, given an arbitrary limit unrelated to scientific data on the species,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “The board urges government to follow through on its commitment to review the impact of the one per cent timber supply cap for wildlife habitat areas, and make adjustments if the policy proves to be limiting an effective recovery response to threatened species such as the marbled murrelet.”
In 2003, the board found B.C.’s marbled murrelet population was threatened by loss of nesting habitat due to forest practices. A follow-up report in 2004 noted some positive industry-led measures to identify and protect key murrelet habitat, but stressed the lack of specific government objectives for murrelet conservation. The 2004 report recommended clear government objectives for protecting murrelet habitat and requested that government follow through on a previous commitment to review the one per cent timber supply cap.
The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog that reports to the public about compliance with the 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.
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250-356-1586 or 1-800-994-5899
February 2, 2005