Management Approaches

The primary goal of this website is to provide information that can be used to manage the impacts of timber harvesting on biodiversity.

Broadly, approaches to biodiversity conservation can be grouped into three categories:1,2 
1.  Species management to maintain viable populations;
2.  Area protection to ensure a portion of all ecosystems are set aside in reserves (referred to as ‘ecosystem representation’);
3.  Management of changes to land outside reserves resulting from resource extraction (referred to as ‘matrix management’).

The goal of all of these conservation approaches is to maintain ecosystem processes and ultimately, the evolutionary potential of life.  None of these approaches is sufficient in isolation.  The amount of land presently set aside in reserves is not sufficient to conserve biodiversity.  Given that resource use and human population is increasing, it is unlikely that there will ever be enough protected land to conserve biodiversity unless we change our resource use patterns.3,4  Likewise, a species-focused approach is limited by the impracticality of managing all species across a landscape.  The choice of a few species is unlikely to ensure the conservation of all others, since species respond to disturbances differently and have unique habitat requirements.

The following are a compilation of philosophical, operational and legislated approaches to the conservation of biodiversity in harvested forests:

Species-focused management is the so-called ‘fine filter’ approach.  Its goal is to ensure the maintenance of those species that fall through the ‘coarse filter’ of land management and protection.

Adaptive Management is “the acquisition of additional knowledge and the utilization of that information in modifying programs and practices so as to better achieve management goals.”

Criteria and Indicator (C&I) frameworks are used to guide policy and practices for sustainable forest management at multiple spatial scales.  A large portion of this website outlines a C&I framework designed for use at the level of the forest management unit in British Columbia.

Ecosystem Management is mostly a philosophical paradigm.  As such, it represents a shift away from past insular management systems that were focused on timber extraction toward more inclusive management that attempts to balance economics with environmental protection and other values.

The Natural Range of Variability concept is a ‘coarse filter’ approach and is based on the assumption that biodiversity can be conserved by attempting to bound human disturbance regimes (i.e. logging) within those created by natural processes.

The Forest Practices and Range Act of British Columbia and other legislation provide default management prescriptions for environmental protection.


 Integrated Resource Management
Integrated Resource Management (IRM) is an approach used to balance social and environmental objectives for an area.  The goal of IRM is to integrate different land uses across a landbase, while maintaining ecological integrity.  Zoning is one tool that can guide IRM decision-making.  The Zone Allocation Model (ZAM) is an example of a computer model that can be used to create management zones.

1Noss, R.F. and A.Y. Cooperider. 1994. Saving Nature’s Legacy. Island Press, Washington, D.C.
2Lindenmayer, D.B. and J.F. Franklin. 2002. Conserving forest biodiversity: a comprehensive multiscaled approach. Island Press, Washington, D.C.
3Rodrigues, A.S.L. and K.J. Gaston. 2001. How large do reserve networks need to be? Ecology Letters 4:602:609.
4Soule, M.E. and M.A. Sanjayan. 1998. Conservation targets: do they help? Science 279:2060-2061.