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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Unduly constrained : implementing conservation areas under British Columbia's forest and range practices act Karmona, Jennifer

Abstract

British Columbia's Forest and Range Practices Act seeks to balance environmental, economic and social interests within Crown forests. In pursuit of this goal, government is able to create conservation areas to protect species at risk habitat, ungulate winter ranges, and old growth forests. There has been concern from both government and non-governmental organizations that the implementation of conservation areas has been slow, and that these areas are inadequate to protect the biodiversity values for which they are designed. This thesis measured the progress of conservation area establishment in the Chilliwack and Squamish forest districts, identified and explained problems occurring during the implementation process, and assessed the extent to which conservation areas for species at risk, ungulates and old forests were protecting these values. The research found that the most significant barriers to achieving government's conservation goals were due to economic restrictions built into the regulations themselves. Specifically, limitations on the extent to which conservation areas can impact the timber supply render them inadequate for the protection of most species at risk examined (marbled murrelet, coastal giant salamander, coastal tailed frog, pacific water shrew and grizzly bears); ungulate winter ranges for deer and mountain goat in Chilliwack; and old growth forest ecosystems. The actual establishment process has been challenged by the unwillingness of senior government officials to support reserve implementation when there is substantial resistance from forest licensees, and by unclear direction about the extent and location of conservation areas permitted across the landscape. The establishment of legally approved conservation areas has been slow due to inadequate government resources, an uncoordinated implementation process, and conflict over particular conservation areas. The only approved conservation areas for species at risk are for grizzly bears, and these have taken up to seven years to establish. Ungulate winter ranges have been approved in Squamish, after taking five to seven years of planning and negotiation; they are still in draft form in Chilliwack, with industry and government in disagreement over their specific boundaries. Lastly, only 60% of landscape units have legally approved conservation areas for old growth, despite this being part of government policy since 1995.

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