- SENSITIVE ECOSYSTEMS INVENTORY
- SEI PROJECTS
East Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands Management Recommendations for SEIs
Delineate Buffers around Sensitive Ecosystems
Wherever possible, the sensitive ecosystem would consist of a core area surrounded by a vegetated buffer designed to isolate the ecosystem from outside disturbance. Buffers would bear the brunt of edge effects such as windthrow, invasive species colonization, and increased access. They may also maintain microclimate conditions that are critical to some ecosystems. Site assessment and fieldwork by qualified professionals may be needed to determine appropriate buffers and the best way to achieve conservation measures.
Avoid Direct and Indirect Impacts
The following actions should minimize impacts to sensitive ecosystems.
Invasive species often spread from adjacent residential areas, roadsides, or clear-cuts. Instead of using species that may invade the sensitive ecosystem, homeowners and land developers should be encouraged to plant native tree and herb species to enhance or restore wildlife habitat and provide a buffer. Native plantings could be used to demonstrate the benefits of planting species adapted to local conditions. A conservation management fund should be required from developers, which would pay for active management to keep exotic species out of adjacent sensitive ecosystems.
For example, factors such as the source, velocity, renewal rate and timing of water entering a wetland affect the type and location of the wetland and the sediment nutrients which, in turn, affect the ecosystem characteristics such as species composition, primary productivity and nutrient cycles. Activities including ditching and draining, or the creation of large hardwood plantations adjacent to a wetland, such as the many poplar plantations springing up in the SEI study area, may have a profound effect on these wetland ecosystems.
In cases where land development activities cannot be excluded from sensitive ecosystems, those activities should be planned, designed and implemented in a manner that will not adversely affect the functions and values of the core ecosystem.
In order to determine the specific core ecosystem values of specific sites, a qualified professional should conduct an ecological inventory before any land development activities take place. Ideally, this inventory should take place through the seasons over a period of a year. Like a shopkeeper, the land manager has to know what is "on the shelves." Otherwise, for example, trails could be built over the only patch of rare orchids on the site or could pass close to an owl nesting tree and, in each of those cases, destroy or disturb the very values the land manager is attempting to maintain.
Local governments should require development proponents to fund and commission ecological inventories (by qualified professionals) in, near, or adjacent to sensitive ecosystem PRIOR to permitting or authorizing development. A qualified professional should also interpret the available inventory data and work together with the development proponent to incorporate designs that are sensitive to the natural ecosystem, clearly delineating sensitive areas prior to and during construction and minimizing impacts to the core ecosystem's