Conservation of Species at Risk under the Forest and Range Practices Act: Marbled Murrelets on the Sunshine Coast
B.C. Strategy for Threatened Seabird Unknown
VICTORIA – Despite repeated Forest Practices Board recommendations to act, the Province has not developed a strategy for conserving marbled murrelet habitat, leaving forest professionals and industry with weak direction on what is necessary to ensure the survival of the threatened seabird, says a new board report.
The report, Conservation of Species at Risk under the Forest and Range Practices Act, is the third board report on marbled murrelet habitat since 2003. This investigation examined marbled murrelet habitat on the Sunshine Coast in an Interfor operating area. It found that Interfor is doing its best to set aside valuable habitat for the bird. The Province’s current guidance for conserving marbled murrelet habitat is based on a provincial policy of limiting the impacts of conservation measures on the provincial timber supply, and not on the actual habitat needs of the species. The Province has created very few legally protected areas for the birds’ nesting habitat.
“The provincial government needs to set clear targets as to what constitutes ‘recovery’ and ‘survival’ in terms of the marbled murrelet,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “Interfor has done its best to ensure the area it conserves is as useful as possible to murrelets, but the company’s effort is constrained by government, and it is not possible to determine if its efforts are sufficient. More troubling for the board, without government designation of specific habitat to protect, areas conserved by Interfor could be logged by another licensee operating on the same land base.”
Under the federal Species at Risk Act, a marbled murrelet recovery team is developing a strategy for the murrelet. That draft strategy is proceeding through the SARA process but has not been finalized. The Province has not responded to the proposed strategy or put forward its own plan. If the proposed federal strategy were implemented, it would conserve 20 per cent more murrelet habitat in Interfor’s plan area than current provincial legislation allows.
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.