The provincial government’s approach to biodiversity conservation can be viewed as having four main components: the Protected Areas Strategy, the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy, land-use planning, and various laws, like the Forest and Range Practices Act.
The Protected Areas Strategy
The provincial government met its goal to protect 12% of the province’s land by the year 2000. At the start of 2002, 12.5% (11.86 million ha) of British Columbia was protected in National Parks, Ecological Reserves, Class A and C Provincial Parks, Recreation Areas, and other designations. Most (58%) of the 926 areas are less than 100 ha.1
The Identified Wildlife Management Strategy
The goal of the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy is provide habitat for species needing further provisions than those offered under the Forest and Range Practices Act. Despite this goal, current government policy states that the strategy cannot impact timber supply by more than one percent. Most ‘identified wildlife’ are Red- and Blue-listed by the BC Conservation Data Centre. Two key components of the strategy are the establishment of Wildlife Habitat Areas (WHAs) and the implementation of certain protective measures called General Wildlife Measures.
Land Use Planning
The provincial government regulates forestry operations on the 95% of the province that is publicly-owned through the tenure system, legally established through the Forest Act. The government also involves the public in decisions regarding the use of large areas of land through Strategic Planning. Two kinds of strategic plans have been developed: Regional Land Use Plans and Sub-regional Resource Management Plans. In recognition of the need for smaller-scale plans that could more effectively respond to the needs of the public, 18 Land and Resource Management Plans have been developed.
The ‘Results-Based’ Code
The Forest Practices Code is currently in a state of transition. Various amendments have been made to the Forest Practices Code Act to allow transition to the new Forest and Range Practices Act in the fall of 2005. The Government’s intention is creating a new act was to make forest management in BC more ‘results-based’ and less prescriptive.
Under the old act, government outlined objectives and prescribed ways to meet these objectives. A company had to follow these prescriptions. For example, to maintain fish habitat and water quality objectives, the OSPR outlines minimum widths for reserves adjacent to streams based on the size of the stream and whether or not it contains fish and is in a community watershed. The intent of the new Act is to focus less on government-set prescriptions and more on whether or not a company is meeting the objective – to conserve fish habitat and water quality. Further, government no longer receives site plans for approval and minor amendments can be made to the plan that do not need to be approved. Instead, there is heavy reliance of resource professionals to ensure that results are delivered.
1Ministry of Water, Land, and Air Protection. 2001. Status and Trends of Protected Areas. State of the Environment Report.