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Western yew management in British Columbian forests : recommendations for conservation-based management.. Woods, Sarah 2012

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WESTERN YEW MANAGEMENT IN BRITISH COLUMBIAN FORESTS Recommendations for conservation-based management strategies for species protection Sarah Woods April 9th, 2012  Abstract Western yew or Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia Nutt.) is an ancient conifer that has been a component of British Columbian Coastal and Interior forests for millions of years. Yew is not uncommon within its range, with distribution patterns ranging from scattered to dense patches depending on the site. However, the species is fairly sensitive as it is slow growing with a narrow ecological range. Past lessons of overexploitation for the species’ anticarcinogen properties have shown how easily it is to virtually eliminate yew from stands where it naturally occurs. Harvesting practices continue to be a serious threat to Western yew and with limited species conservation forest legislation in the province, there appears to be little consideration for this tree’s ecological services and importance to First Nations groups. The essay provides a literature review on Western yew, describing its major characteristics, ecological and social significance, and threats to its health and sustainability. The report then analyses the potential direction of Western yew management in BC’s forests by discussing the first steps to innovative forest practices provided by the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Auditor General’s report on BC’s forest practices. The implementation of Western yew protection in BC forest management is then discussed using the Haida Gwaii Strategic Land Use Agreement as a primary example of a species specific conservation strategy. Given the success of this strategy, the report recommends similar approaches to be executed in other forest districts within the province in order to encourage the conservation of Western yew throughout its natural range.  Keywords: Western yew; Pacific yew; Taxus brevifolia; conservation; Taxol; Yew big bud mite; climate change; harvesting practices; Forest and Range Practices Act; FRPA; Auditor General of BC; Haida Gwaii Land Use Agreement i  Acknowledgments First, I am forever grateful for my time on Haida Gwaii as this place was my main sources of inspiration for this essay. Thank you to all the wonderful people I met on the islands and to all the amazing experiences I had while I was there. I would also like to thank Dr. Suzanne Simard for her guidance and support in completing this graduating essay. Her always positive words encouraged forming this topic from a wavering idea into a graduating essay and I am incredible grateful for all her help. I would also like to show my appreciation for Dr. John Worrall for offering consistently entertaining and insightful advice on the direction of my essay. There needs be more minds like this in the field of forestry. I am happy for the pleasure of knowing this man and continually having access to the wealth of forestry knowledge he always provided for me throughout my years in forestry.  ii  Table of Contents Abstract .......................................................................................................................................................... i Acknowledgments......................................................................................................................................... ii Table Contents ............................................................................................................................................. iii Index of Figures ............................................................................................................................................ iv Introduction .................................................................................................................................................. 1 Chapter 1: Species Ecological Characteristics ............................................................................................... 2 1.1 Species Range and Site Requirements ................................................................................................ 2 1.2 Growth Characteristics........................................................................................................................ 3 1.3 Reproduction....................................................................................................................................... 3 1.4 Forest Succession and Stand Dynamics .............................................................................................. 4 Chapter 2: The Environmental and Social Importance of Western Yew ...................................................... 5 2.1 Ecological Importance ......................................................................................................................... 5 2.2 First Nations Traditional Uses ............................................................................................................. 5 2.3 The Story of Taxol ............................................................................................................................... 6 Chapter 3: Natural and Anthropogenic Threats ........................................................................................... 8 3.1 Fire ...................................................................................................................................................... 8 3.2 Yew Big Bud Mite ................................................................................................................................ 8 3.3 Climate Change ................................................................................................................................... 8 3.4 Harvesting Practices ............................................................................................................................ 9 Chapter 4: Future Directions in Western Yew Management...................................................................... 11 4.1 The Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA): Room for Innovation? ................................................. 11 4.2 The BC Auditor General’s Report: Impetus of Change...................................................................... 12 4.3 Western Yew Management: Haida Gwaii Strategic Land Use Agreement ....................................... 12 Chapter 5: Summary and Conclusion.......................................................................................................... 14 References .................................................................................................................................................. 15  iii  Index of Figures Figure 1: Range map of T. brevifolia in BC .................................................................................................... 2 Figure 2: Yew bark harvesting in the Pacific Northwest ............................................................................... 6 Figure 3: Climate change driven expansion of the CWH BEC zone on the West Coast of BC ...................... 8 Figure 4: Decreasing viability of T. brevifolia habitat from 2012 to 2090 .................................................... 9  iv  Introduction Western yew is a coniferous understory species found primary in old-growth stands in the Coastal and Interior regions of BC. With its generally small size and lack of commercial value, Western yew is largely ignored within today’s forest management practices. There a number of evident threats to the species including fire, the yew big bud mite, and the climate change. The most serious threat, however, has been harvesting practices that neglect the sensitivity of the tree, putting the tree at serious risk. Overexploitation of the species in the 1990s for the anticarcinogen drug, Taxol©, showed how easily the species came to be almost virtually wiped out in many stands within its natural range. Yew trees have been known to persist for several centuries and its role as a stable forest component adds to the continued biodiversity of stands, improving forest health by increasing resilience to natural disturbances. Western yew also provides forage for ungulates and is a significant tree species of riparian zones. The species is also a very important tree for First Nations cultural heritage. Yew was used for a number of practical, medicinal, and spiritual purposes for thousands of years by Coastal and Interior First Nations groups. The preservation of this species means the preservation of culture and traditional ecological knowledge to be passed down to future generations. It is for these primary reasons that more efforts to protect this species should be implemented across the province. With the Forests and Range Practices Act potentially opening the door to more innovative forest practices and the latest BC Auditor General’s report on forest practices encouraging greater attention to biodiversity, the first steps for Western yew conservation strategies are appearing to take shape within the province. The first signs of yew protection are already evident in forest management in some areas on the Coast. The strongest example of this protective strategy can be seen in the Haida Gwaii Strategic Land Use Agreement. With the plan’s evident success, it is apparent that similar efforts need to be implemented in other areas within BC to help mitigate the detrimental effects current harvesting practices are having on this species throughout the Coast and Interior.  1  Chapter 1: Species Ecological Characteristics 1.1 Species Range and Site Requirements Western yew grows in cool, temperate, and mesothermal climates. In its Coastal range, yew’s distribution stretches from southeast Alaska southward down the Coast through BC and into California. In its Interior range, it occurs from Southeastern BC through Northwestern Montana and Northern Idaho into Eastern Washington and Oregon (Little, 1979). Abundance increases with increasing precipitation and decreases with greater elevation and latitude (Klinka, Krajina, Ceska, & Scagel, 1989). Annual precipitation within its distribution ranges from approximately 800 to 4000 mm/yr. Elevations of western yew habitat range from sea level to approximately 2500 m at the southern end of its range (Bolsinger & Jaramillo, 1990). Western yew has a narrow range compared to most tree species found in BC, occurring only in the mid to South Coast and Southeast Interior regions of the province. The species is found in the Coastal Douglas-fir (CDF), Coastal Western Hemlock (CWH), and Interior Cedar Hemlock (ICH) Biogeoclimatic (BEC) zones of the province. A detailed map of the percent cover of Western yew in the province can be seen in Figure 1.  Figure 1: Range map of T. brevifolia in BC (Centre for Forest Conservation Genetics, 2000).  2  Yew is shade demanding and often needs a dense canopy for regeneration. However, in some cases, older trees have been able to adapt to small amounts of canopy removal (Crawford, 1983). Moisture requirements are fairly high and in drier areas, Yew is limited to stream sides and shady, north facing slope bottoms (Bolsinger & Jaramillo, 1990). Yew is well adapted to acidic conditions and typically grows in deep, moist, well-drained soils. As with most moisture requiring species, sites where the tree can be most productive are in alluvial habitats with nutrient rich soils. Yew is moderately tolerant to frost, but the protection offered by a layer of snow is often required to mitigate damage or mortality during the winter months in continental climates (Krajina, Klinka, & Worrall, 1982).  1.2 Growth Characteristics Western yew takes on either a shrub or tree morphology; a growth characteristic which is entirely induced by the environment it grows in. Western yew in its tree form is generally characterized by a broad crown with drooping branches. The bole of species occurring on Coastal sites is often contorted or malformed. Bark is very thin (approximately 0.5 cm) with purplish scales on top of a reddish-purple inner bark. The leaves of the yew are linear to lanceolate, flat, 2-3 cm long and spirally arranged (Pojar & Mackinon, 2005). Leaves senesce every 5 to 6 years and are dark to yellow green in colour on top and striped with stomata on the underside. Western yew develops a deep and wide spreading root system which is associated with vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizae (Pojar & Mackinon, 2005). The extent of these mycorrhizae networks and potential underground relationships with other species is not yet known. On the most productive sites, Western yew may have site indexes of 20 m with max diameters rarely greater than 1 m (Pojar & Mackinon, 2005). This understory species is the slowest growing tree species on the coast with continued height growth in trees more than 200 years old. The longevity of this species is unknown, but species over 1 500 years old have been recorded (Krajina, Klinka, & Worrall, 1982).  1.3 Reproduction Yew that takes on a shrubby morphology has a high capacity for vegetative reproduction. Its sprawling morphology puts this species close to the forest floor giving it opportunity to root its branches in the soil. Yew is commonly unharmed after being flattened by large conifers during canopy breakup. Crushed yews often form a series of layered branches that give rise to numerous individual plants. Sprouts generally develop from cut or broken stumps and epicormic branching is also common (Crawford & Johnson, 1985) Western yew is a prolific seed producer, but the frequency of seed crops is unknown (Centre for Forest Conservation Genetics, 2000). Yew is dioecious meaning that individual trees are either male or female. Male pollen cones are yellow, globe shaped, 3 mm long and usually appear from February through June. Female trees produce greenish, ovulate cones on the lower sides of branches. The seeds are encased in a cup-shaped berrylike aril which ripens from August to October (Krajina, Klinka, & Worrall, 1982). The arils either drop to the ground or are taken from trees by birds or rodents. The arils are often eaten by birds for the sweetish mucilaginous covering, but the hard shell of the seed is unaffected by digestion. The attractiveness of the fruit to birds serves as an important means of disseminating the seed, which otherwise would not be carried far from the mother tree (Sudworth, 1908). Chipmunks and squirrels often take only the seeds and cache them creating the clusters of yew seedlings observed in some areas. 3  The exact length of viability of yew seeds is still unknown. Seeds have only been known to remain viable in the soil for two seasons, but some studies have suggested slightly longer viability periods (Minore, 1972).  1.4 Forest Succession and Stand Dynamics Natural regeneration capacity of Western yew after disturbance is poorly understood. Most studies show seedling establishment is generally more favorable beneath the canopy or in small canopy gaps because of the outcompeting and faster growing deciduous and coniferous species that quickly become established in larger openings caused by fire or clearcutting. Yew exhibits allelopathic inhibitors in its roots, litter, and stem which may attribute to the commonly observed lack of other species under its canopy. This property may be an adaptation for enhanced understory germination as these compounds have shown to inhibit the growth of competing community species such as Grand fir and Western red cedar (Rice, 1974). Western yew grows scattered in isolated clumps and very rarely forms a pure stand (Pojar & Mackinon, 2005). It is found in climax or near climax communities, growing as a suppressed stand component in the understories of species such as Douglas-fir, Western hemlock, Western red cedar, Pacific silver fir, Grand fir, Western larch, Red alder, and Black cottonwood. Because of its sensitivity to disturbance, the presence of large, old Western yew trees in a stand is one of the best indicators for an old-growth seral stage forest.  4  Chapter 2: The Environmental and Social Importance of Western Yew 2.1 Ecological Importance There are few studies that have been conducted on the specific ecological functions of Western yew, but its longevity and growth characteristics clearly speak to its inherent importance in the forests where it occurs. Fossil records show that Western yew is considerably older than most conifer species with estimates of at least 100 million years old (Pojar & Mackinon, 2005). Yew is one of the slowest growing and longest living trees in BC and forms a stable and continuous structure in its ecosystems. Yew is also one of the many species which adds to a diverse mix of species in forest stands throughout its range. This added diversity is an important facet of forest health, adding to overall resilience to natural and human driven disturbances. Yew is also an important tree for many ungulate species including moose, deer, and elk. In the Interior, many of these animals use Western yew for cover, forage, travel corridors, and calving or fawning areas (Pierce, 1984). In the winter, browse in clearcuts in the Interior is generally covered by deep snow and inaccessible to these species. However, because it is an understory species, the foliage of yew under old-growth canopies is easily accessible to these mammals. Underground mycorrhizal networks are increasingly recognized as mediating interactions among trees through their effects on survival, growth, and competitive ability (Beiler, Durall, Simard, & al., 2010). Yew’s rot-resistant and enduring root structure suggests a pivotal role in forming a stable, long-term network for nutrient exchange through the soil. This tangled and rot-resistant root structure also forms long-term stability for stream sides which improves water quality and slope stability in riparian areas. This function is essential for aquatic life which is sensitive to changing riparian conditions, such as salmonids and stream microorganisms.  2.2 First Nations Traditional Uses Western Yew has the densest and most elastic wood of all pacific conifer species. As a result, yew wood was highly valued by many coastal First Nations groups for its strength and resiliency. It was named ‘the bow plant’ by the Haida, Halq’emeylem and Stl’atl’imx, and ‘wedge plant’ by the Sechelt, Squamish, and Nuu-chah-nulth peoples (Sierra Club BC, 2010). Yew wood was used to make a wide array of tools such as clubs, spears, boxes, awls, digging sticks and spades, halibut hooks, knives, soopolallie spoons, masks, gambling sticks, paddles, mat-sewing needles, canoe-spreaders, drum frames, and bark scrapers (Pojar & Mackinon, 2005). The Saanich used the entire trunk of a sapling to catapult spears in warfare. Kwak’waka’wakw bound a bundle of yew branches to a hemlock pole for gathering sea urchins, which would get tangled in the strong, thin branches (Pojar & Mackinon, 2005). Yew wood’s hardness and ability to hold polish are also qualities of this wood that continue to make it sought after by today’s First Nations carvers and artists. Perhaps the most important use of yew was for medicinal and spiritual purposes. Parts of the tree were used to impart strength, induce perspiration, and treat internal injuries and lung diseases (Earle 2008). The Saanish and many Salish groups from Washington would smoke dried yew needles, often mixed with kinnnikinnick which created a very strong and potentially harmful smoke mixture for ceremonial purposes (Turner, 2010). The Haida also ate yew berries, but it was known that if women ate too many, 5  they would become sterile. The seed of the berries are toxic, due to the presence of alkaloids. If the seed is swallowed whole, it was not harmful, but if it is chewed up, two or three seeds can be fatal (Turner, 2010). Because of these powerful properties, the yew was a highly spiritual tree for many First Nations. Out of respect for the tree, the Haida would not typically use yew wood as a construction material. Use of yew poles for such a purpose was solely reserved for the posts of shaman grave houses (Turner, 2010).  2.3 The Story of Taxol In 1960, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the US Department of Agriculture began a cooperative venture to screen plants for novel anti-cancer compounds (Dewick, 2002). Yews in the Pacific Northwest were sampled and analyzed in 1962. Taxol, a complex chemical compound found in yew bark, was identified as a promising anticarcinogenic compound, especially for ovarian, breast and kidney cancer. Soon after its discovery, the trademark name, Taxol©, was patented by the pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and NCI awarded the company with exclusive right to harvest yew bark on federal forest lands (Von Hagen, 1996). Between 1988 and 1991, the demand for yew bark exploded. About 7 270 kg of bark was required to produce 1 kg of taxol. A single women suffering from ovarian cancer needs as much as 3 g of taxol for her treatment, equating to the debarking of six 100-year-old Western yew trees (Co-operatives Secritariat, 2011). With each taxol treatment costing between $10,000.00 and $100,000.00, during this period, Western yew effectively transformed from an ignored weed species to “nature’s gold”. BMS and NCI announced a greater required demand for taxol and in 1991, almost 400 000 kg of yew bark was harvested in Oregon and Washington Figure 2: Yew bark harvesting in the Pacific Northwest. Source: forests. In the same year, BC allowed the export National Cancer Institute of 158 000 kg of yew bark to the U.S. market (Von Hagen, 1996). It seemed there would be no end to the exploitation of yew until finally, after years of growing concerns for the future of the species, Western yew was enlisted on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) red list of threatened species (Encyclopedia of Life, 2010). Public concern and pressure in the US led to a change in legislation with the passing of the Pacific Yew Act in 1992. With this Act, Congress effectively forced BMS to finally discontinue harvesting wild yews on U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands (Heiken, 1992). In 1993, Canada followed suit with Section 8.12 of the Ministry of Forests Policy Manual which specifically defined the broad framework of governing the harvesting and collection of Western yew bark and needles. Under the policy guidelines, harvesting of yew bark could take place:  6  1) in areas approved for harvesting under an existing agreement, with the consent of the agreement holder; 2) in areas that will be imminently approved for harvesting under an agreement, with a free use permit issued by the appropriate district manager under the Forest Act; 3) in areas reserved from conventional harvesting, with a free use permit issued by the district manager that will authorize the harvest of yew bark but require a minimum number of stems to be left in a range of age and size classes; 4) in young stands, with a free use permit issued by the district manager that will authorize the harvest of yew bark but require a minimum of stems to be left. (Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, 1993) Western yew bark registration forms also had to be maintained by both buyers and wholesalers and submitted annually to the regional forest manager. Information on the register had to include the harvesting area, the number of trees used in each area, and the weight of the materials harvested (Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, 1993).1 Projected demands over the next 20 years required sacrificing as many as a million trees a year, a figure which was well beyond the available supply of wild yew trees (Co-operatives Secritariat, 2011). This lack of supply of taxol led to the development of several alternatives to harvesting wild Western yews. The major method of taxol production used today involves semi-synthesis using the biomass of fast growing taxus cultivars. Weyerhaeuser began its Taxus Biomass Program in 1987 when they were approached by NCI as a potential supplier of taxol. In 1991, Weyerhaeuser entered into research and production agreements with BMS for the “long term, reliable and economic supply of taxol and other desired taxane precursors for semi-synthesis” (Mehlschau, 2008). Cultivars are grown for three seasons in nurseries, harvested at the root, cleaned, dried, and then shipped to processing plants in the U.S. This method of taxol semi-synthesis is used internationally and has effectively relieved much of the threat of overexploiting this resource for medicinal purposes (Encyclopedia of Life, 2010).  1  Policy 8.12 - Yew Bark Harvesting and Collection - Special Forest Products was removed from the Ministry of Forests Policy Manual on October 4, 2007 because of apparent population recovery and the mitigating effects of alternate nursery derived sources of taxol.  7  Chapter 3: Natural and Anthropogenic Threats 3.1 Fire As a species primarily occurring on the Coast and in wetbelts in the Southeast Interior of BC, Western yew is poorly adapted to fire disturbance. Yew’s thin bark makes it very sensitive to heat damage and its low crown height makes it an ideal ladder fuel for low severity understory fires. Yew is also maladapted to reestablishing after fires and is rarely found on recently burned sites, even where it was a common component of the pre-fire forest community (Steen, 1966). Prescribed burning has become an acceptable strategy to mitigate potential fire severity and frequency. Many recommendations have been made against prescribed fire in stands that contain Western yew (Johnson & Simon, 1987). Although a light under-burn will not completely scorch the duff layer, yew may be adversely affected. In some areas, prescribed fires and wildfires have contributed to the depletion of yew populations. Intended broadcast burning after clearcutting has virtually eliminated yew in some areas in Oregon and Washington (Scher & Jimerson, 1989).  3.2 Yew big bud mite Almost all Western yew trees found in Coastal regions are infested with the yew big bud mite (Cecidophyopsis psilaspis). Vegetative and reproductive buds on branch samples collected from 38 interior and 43 coastal populations of Pacific yew were examined for the occurrence of the mite. Over 90% of the coastal samples were found to be infested with the mite (Mashall & Clayton, 2004). This mite is thought to have been introduced from Europe, probably during the 19th century when immigrants brought over many species of English yew for garden plants. The mite causes swelling and browning of both vegetative and reproductive buds. Infected plants also display an erratic and asymmetrical shape (Mashall & Clayton, 2004). Since it appears interior yews have not yet been infected by the mite, the Pacific Forestry Centre cautions against transporting coastal yew material into the Interior.  3.3 Climate Change Over the past decade, BC has experienced a warming trend that approximately matches climate change predictions from general circulation models published in the mid-1990s (Mote, 2003). This relatively small increase in mean annual temperature (0.78°C in BC) already appears to have had remarkable ecological impacts (Hamann & Wang, 2006). As warming trends continue, studies point to the expansion of new areas in BC which will become suitable habitat for Western yew. Figure 3 shows this increase in the CWH BEC zone, one of the three BEC zones where Figure 3: The expansion of the CWH BEC zone (in green) on the West Coast Western yew is found in BC. of BC (Hamann & Wang, 2006). 8  Habitat expansion does not necessarily amount to increases in species frequency. As new viable habitat is created by the warming climate, current yew habitat will become steadily unsuitable for sustained growth and the new propagation of species. Given Western yew’s lower reproductive capacity compared to other tree species, there is speculation over whether the species will be able to move its new range before it is severely impacted. This projected inability to adapt paired with a 30% loss of frequency of T. brevifolia in the ICH by 2085 is expected to amount to a total frequency loss of 36% according to the latest climate change modeling data (Hamann & Wang, 2006). Figure 4 shows a decreasing trend in viable habitat for Western yew in Canada and the U.S.  2012  2060  2030  2090  Figure 4: Decreasing viability of T. brevifolia habitat from 2012 to 2090 in Pacific Northwest and Interior forests (Moscow Forestry Sciences Laboratory, 2010).  3.4 Harvesting Practices Currently, the greatest threat to Western yew in BC is logging. Since it is a shade tolerant, understory species, yew is sensitive to drastic changes in light and temperature and can be severely harmed by increased exposure to heat after tree canopy removal (Johnson & Simon, 1987). The extent of damage experienced post-harvest depends on the age and previous exposure to open canopy conditions. Yews that grow in direct sunlight along riverbeds and ravines have a lower specific leaf area than that of yews grown in shaded understories. Studies have shown that stomatal density is the same in sun-grown 9  foliage and shade-grown foliage. This implies that acclimation to sun and shade is the result of changes in leaf growth rather than in the initiation and development of stomata (Mitchell, 1998). Young shadegrown trees with faster growth rates are generally more elastic and have the greatest ability to develop sun-grown foliar morphologies in order to cope with increased exposure to sun and temperature. Oldgrowth yew, however, are generally less adaptive and are often seen with brown, or orange foliage and sever crown damage after clearcutting exposes them to direct sunlight. Sensitivity to frost may also cause decreases in yew after overstory removal (Crawford R. C., 1983). Yew that develops slowly in the understory is continually protected by the canopy above it. Canopy closure reduces exposure and lessens the extent of soil frost formation through radiant cooling mitigation. Because of its paper thin bark and slow growth, Western yews, especially those found in Coastal regions, are poorly adapted to freezing conditions and those that grow in depressions often experience sever damage after canopy openings occur from harvesting.  10  Chapter 4: Future Directions in Yew Protection Western yew is a sensitive non-crop tree species which has adapted to the stability offered by oldgrowth stand conditions. For sustained health and effective propagation of future generations, yew relies on specific conditions of long-lived forests with minor and infrequent disturbance regimes. We have learned the lessons of how easily this species can be depleted and put at serious risk of extirpation from taxol harvesting in 1990s. New research has also suggested how a reduced frequency of this species in its natural range is eminent if current climate trends continue over the next century. As a nonharvest species, re-stocking of yew species post-harvest does not fall into the current forest practices mandate of lowering silviculture costs and ensuring profitable returns from target stands in future markets. As a result, the fate of this species will rely on innovative and pre-emptive forest practices that aim to maintain a high-level of biodiversity in managed forests and effectively conserve this vulnerable species.  4.1 The Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA): Room for Innovation? Introduced in 2004, the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) sets out regulations for harvesting activities including the planning for roads and cutblocks, silvicultural requirements, and environmental standards that forest licensees are required to meet under law. FRPA has largely replaced the Forest Practices Code (FPC), however, some aspects of FPC concerning strategic planning and fire control continue to be in effect (Mackenzie Forest District; Tsey Key Dene, 2005). FRPA framework is described as a results-based approach to forest management, in which the government specifies the desired outcomes for forest management in the province (Malkinson, 2011). The purpose of the act is to provide forest licensees with the flexibility and accountability for determining the practices that will be used to meet or exceed forest stewardship objectives. The Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP) defines stewardship as “the sustainable balancing of environmental, economic and social values” and states, “the stewardship standard is a crucible through which all professional decisions are evaluated” (ABCFP, 2002). Under FRPA, all major tenure holders must prepare a Forest Stewardship Plan (FSP) for the defined forest area they manage (McDonald, 2004). FSPs are essentially a forest professional’s outlet for fulfilling the requirements of FRPA and representing how planned forest practices will balance the environmental, economic, and social values of forest stewardship. Although FRPA is intended to provide industry the freedom to manage for defined results and open the door to innovation in forest practices, preliminary evaluation of early implementation of the FRPA framework suggests that this regime does not appear to have significantly influenced the development of alternative and potentially innovative practices (Malkinson, 2011). Licensee foresters may find it difficult to balance their responsibilities to the public and their employers (McWilliams, 2009). Social expectations must always be met under strict budgets and timelines. This challenge in balancing the many aspects of forest management has manifested into a trend of “bare minimum” forest practices that achieve the baseline legal requirements set out by FRPA. A review of the first 65 approved FSP‘s revealed that the vast majority of forest tenure holders have chosen to only implement the default forest practices provided in regulation (Malkinson, 2011). Only 10% of forest practice commitments reflected an approach that is alternative to the default practice and, on average, those alternative practices are perceived by the prescribing foresters as being somewhat innovative (Malkinson, 2011). In many cases, alternative forest practices may best be characterized as providing increased flexibility in application of default practices rather than being truly innovative practices. 11  There are a number of reported reasons for this unanimous choice of default practices. The main reason reported by foresters was based on the simplicity of implementing baseline requirements and the certainty of FSP approval if alternative practices are omitted. Foresters are under pressure from their employers for timely FSP approval and innovative practices may only result in a delayed approval processes, amounting to more process stages and an increase in overall costs (Malkinson, 2011).  4.2 The BC Auditor General Report: Impetus of Change It is clear that flexibility in legislation has not amounted to innovation and a commitment to increased biodiversity in managed stands. The latest BC Auditor General Report on the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has addressed this issue in one of its six recommendations for amendments to forest practices in BC. The recommendation stresses the importance of forest diversity as essential for helping to minimize known health risks, reduce vulnerability to climate change and help maintain a valuable supply of timber into the future (Doyle, 2012). The report found that the trend toward reduced diversity is inconsistent with the Chief Forester’s vision for BC’s future forests as providing a diversity of well-adapted, healthy, resilient forests that will fulfil the needs of future generations (Doyle, 2012). The auditor’s report emphasises the importance of diversifying the restocking of managed stands in the most cost-effective manner. Since the restocking a slowly maturing species with no market value does not fit into this projected objective, the promise of yew’s contribution to added biodiversity in BC’s forests will be through its planned conservation in forest management. To protect the species, significant harvesting buffer zones need to be planned around yew occurrences. The implementation of this strategy can first be initiated within a broad scope land use plan. Here, yew trees can be identified as a protected value within the land use zone. At the stand level, under the “biological diversity requirements” in Silviculture prescriptions, identified yew trees can be incorporated into the area of retention required under FRPA within the planned operating zone. There are very few forest districts in the province that have implemented this strategy for the protection of this species. One of the stronger examples of Western yew protection is on Haida Gwaii where the species has been identified as a forest value with a required conservation strategy for its protection.  4.3 Western Yew Management: The Haida Gwaii Strategic Land Use Agreement The historic use and social importance of the yew tree amongst Coastal First Nations have created the perfect platform for newly emerging efforts to protect the species in the province. With its vast uses and medicinal properties, yew trees are highly respected by these many First Nations groups. Harvesting of yew wood, needles, berries, and bark was historically done sustainably out of respect for the sacred tree and to ensure the continual use of this resource for future generations. The importance of this natural material to the traditional lives of Coastal First Nations has had a lasting legacy on these groups. As a result, these values have emerged in a few select First Nations directed higher-level management plans on the Coast. The Haida Gwaii Strategic Land Use Agreement (SLUA) exemplifies the highest level of planning for the conservation of Western yew out of any land use plan in the province. The planning process was based on two protocol agreements signed in April 2001, in which the Province and the Haida Nation committed to a cooperative development of a strategic land use plan, guided by an ecosystem-based 12  management framework. Management objectives under the SLUA aim to protect important Haida cultural values, support ecosystem integrity and provide environmental benefits by maintaining the diversity and abundance of organisms on Haida Gwaii (BC Minsitry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, 2010). One of the many cultural values defined in the land use plan is the Western yew tree species. Management objective 1.3 in the SLUA sets out a realistic management strategy for the protection of yew trees in operational zones on the islands of Haida Gwaii. Protecting a single tree within a harvesting area is simply unpractical and uneconomical. Instead, the strategy of the SLUA is to protect patches of yew, “comprised of 5 or more species where each yew tree is within 5 meters of another yew tree” (Council of the Haida Nation, 2007). Protection is accomplished through stand level retention, which requires a buffer zone around yew patches in order to maintain the essential canopy cover the species relies on. However, Western yew patches may be altered or removed to accommodate operational requirements for road and bridge construction, where no practicable alternative exists (Council of the Haida Nation, 2007). Through specifying yew patches instead of individuals and leaving room for operational alternatives, this land use strategy provides a rational framework that can be met through strategic management practices by forest professionals.  13  Chapter 5: Summary and Conclusion Western yew is an essential component of old-growth stands within the Coastal and Interior ecosystems of BC. Although there have been few studies on this species, research has revealed its substantial ecological importance for many species within its natural range. Western yew plays an essential role as a stable, long-living forest component, increasing biodiversity and strengthening forest resilience. Since time immemorial, the tree has also been an important species for many First Nations groups in the province. Its potent medicinal properties were known to Coastal First Nations long before the discovery of taxol, an anticarcinogenic compound that put the species at serious risk of extirpation in the 1990s. Now the major threat to the species is the current harvesting practices taking place in the province. There is no protective legislation for yew in BC and the conservation of the species relies on higher-level conservation planning strategies. An example of such a strategy is the Haida Gwaii SLUA that sets out protective guidelines for the preservation of the species through the planning of retention areas around clusters of yew. More conservation based strategies for Western yew management need to be implemented into BC forest planning. All forest species are part of an immeasurable web of connections within their ecosystems. The depth of our knowledge of these relationships is limited and any hope of increasing this understanding relies on the integrity of forests with their full natural range of species intact. By focusing planning around commercial species, harvesting practices in BC lack consideration for the complete array of values and ecological services that are offered by every forest ecosystem. Through the harvesting and replanting of high monetary valued tree species, management practices are completely changing the natural composition of stands in our province and the potential detrimental effects of these activities may not be actualized for many generations. Managed stands do not have to be complete bastardizations of what once naturally occurred in the same site. Through innovative planning, professionals can implement management strategies that more closely match what occurred in operating areas pre-harvest. We must manage forests to the best of our ability using more conservation-based strategies to ensure the sustainability of Western yew and other non-commercial forest species that have been neglected within the profit focused forest industry of BC.  14  References ABCFP. (2002). ABCFP Standards of Professional Practice: Guidelines for Interpretation. Vancouver, BC: ABCFP. BC Minsitry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. (2010). Haida Gwaii Land Use Objectives Order. Victoria, BC: Province of British Columbia. Beiler, K., Durall, D., Simard, S., & al., e. (2010). Mapping the wood-wide web: mycorrhizal networks link multiple Douglas-fir cohorts. Vancouver: New Phytologist. Bolsinger, C., & Jaramillo, A. (1990). Taxus brevifolia Nutt., Pacific yew. In R. Burns, & B. Honkala, Agricultural Handbook: Silvics of North America. Washington, DC: US Department of Agricultur. Centre for Forest Conservation Genetics. (2000). Centre for Forest Conservation Genetics. Retrieved Feb. 28, 2012, from Cataloguing in situ genetic resources: Taxus Brevifolia: http://genetics.forestry.ubc.ca/cfcg/proj_cataloguing/s_taxubre.html Co-operatives Secritariat. (2011, Jan. 23). Taxus brevifolia Nutt. (Pacific Yew). Retrieved Feb. 12, 2012, from Co-operatives Secritariat: http://www.coop.gc.ca/COOP/displayafficher.do?id=1301435640373&lang=eng Council of the Haida Nation. (2007). Haida Gwaii Strategic Land Use Agreement. Victoria, BC: Province of British Columbia. Crawford, R. C. (1983). Pacific yew community ecology in northern-central Idaho with implications to forest land management. Moscow: University of Idaho. Crawford, R. C., & Johnson, F. D. (1985). Pacific yew dominance in tall forests, a classification dilemma. Canadian Journal of Botany. Dewick, P. M. (2002). Medicinal Natural Products: A Biosynthetic Approach. Wiley. Doyle, J. (2012). An Audit of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations' Management on Timber. Victoria, BC: Office of the Auditor General of British Columbia. Encyclopedia of Life. (2010). Taxus brevifolia - Nutt. . Retrieved Feb. 15, 2012, from NatureServ Explorer: http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/servlet/NatureServe?searchName=Taxus+brevifolia Hamann, A., & Wang, T. (2006). Potential effects of climate change on tree species distribution in British Columbia. Vancouver, BC: Centre for Forest Gene Conservation. Heiken, D. O. (1992). Pacific Yew and Taxol: Federal Management of an Emerging Resource. Portland, OR: Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation.  15  International Union for the Conservation of Nature. (2011, Nov. 10). Another leap towards the Barometer of Life [Press Release]. Retrieved Mar. 3, 2012, from International Uniton of the Conservation of Nature: http://www.iucn.org/knowledge/news/?uNewsID=8548 Johnson, C. G., & Simon, S. A. (1987). Plant associations of the Wallowa-Snake Province. Baker, OR: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Klinka, K., Krajina, V., Ceska, A., & Scagel, A. (1989). Indicator plants of coastal British Columbia. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press. Krajina, V., Klinka, K., & Worrall, J. (1982). Distribution and ecological characteristics of trees and shrubs of British Columbia. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia, Department of Botany and Faculty of Forestry. Little, E. L. (1979). Agricultural Handbook: Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Mackenzie Forest District; Tsey Key Dene. (2005). Non-Replaceable Forest License Management: Understanding the Basics. Mackenzie, BC: BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Mines and Natural Resource Management. Malkinson, L. (2011). A Preliminary Evaluation of the Results- Based Forest and Range Practices Act. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia. Mashall, V., & Clayton, M. (2004). Biology and phenology of Cecidophyopsis psilaspis on Pacific yew. Victoria, BC: Pacific Forestry Centre. McDonald, D. (2004). Forest Stewardship Plans Produce Enforcible Results. Victoria: BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Mines and Natural Resource Operations. McWilliams, J. (2009). A Review and Analysis of the Effects of BC`s Current Stocking Standards on Forest Stewardship. Vancouver, BC: Association of BC Forest Professionals. Mehlschau, J. (2008). Taxus Biomass Program. Turner, Oregon: Weyerhaeuser Company. Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. (1993). Ministry of Forests Policy Manual: General Procedures for Policy 8.12 Yew Bark Harvesting and Collection. Victoria, BC: Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Minore, D. (1972). A classification of forest environments in the South Umpqua Basin. Portland, OR: US Department of Agriculture: Forest Service. Mitchell, A. (1998). Acclimation of Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia) foliage to sun and shade. Victoria, BC: Heron Publishing.  16  Moscow Forestry Sciences Laboratory. (2010). Pacific Yew (Taxus brevifolia). Retrieved Feb. 12, 2012, from Plant Species and Climate Profile Predictions: http://forest.moscowfsl.wsu.edu/climate/species/speciesDist/Pacific-yew/ Mote, P. (2003). Trends in Tempurature and Precipitation in the Pacific Northwest During the Twentieth Century. Seattle, WA: Climate Impacts Group. Pierce, J. D. (1984). Shiras moose forage selection in relation to browse availability in north-central Idaho. Canadian Journal of Zoology. Pojar, J., & Mackinon, A. (2005). Plants of Coastal British Columbia. Vancouver, BC: Lone Pine Publishing. Rice, E. L. (1974). Allelopathology. New York: Acedemic Press. Scher, S., & Jimerson, T. M. (1989). Does fire regime determine the distribution of Pacific yew in forested watersheds. Sacramento, CA: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. Sierra Club BC. (2010). Going Wild: Teaching About Wild Products in BC's Coastal Rainforests. Royal Roads University . Steen, H. K. (1966). Vegetation following slashfires in one western Oregon Locality. Northwest Science. Sudworth, G. B. (1908). Forest Trees of the Pacific Slope. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Agriculture: Forest Service. Turner, N. (2010). Plants of Haida Gwaii. Winlaw, BC: Sono Nis Press. Von Hagen, B. (1996). Conservation and Development of Nontimber Forest Products in the Pacific Northwest. Portland, OR: US Department of Agriculture.  17  

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