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Identified Wildlife Management Strategy

Frequently Asked Questions - General


Q What are Identified Wildlife?
A Identified Wildlife are species at risk or regionally important wildlife that have been designated by the Minister of Environment under British Columbia’s Forest and Range Practices Act. The species at risk include endangered, threatened, or vulnerable species or vertebrates and invertebrates, and endangered or threatened plants and plant communities that are negatively affected by forest or range management on Crown land and are not adequately protected by other mechanisms.
Q How are Identified Wildlife selected?

Identified Wildlife are selected using the following criteria:

  • A vertebrate listed as either red (endangered or threatened), blue (vulnerable) or regionally important by the BC Conservation Data Centre; or
  • A red-listed plant or plant community; and
  • Habitat is threatened by forest or range management practices on Crown land; and
  • Habitat requirements are not adequately protected by other mechanisms.
Q How many species have been identified? Will other species be identified?
A As of June 2006 there are 70 taxa (species or subspecies) and 15 plant communities designated as Species at Risk under the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy by the Minister Environment. Other species and plant communities are being considered for designation as Regionally Important Wildlife under the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy.

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Q How were the Identified Wildlife selected?
A The species designated as Identified Wildlife were recommended by the Category of Species at Risk Technical Advisory Committee, which included representation from industry, government and the environmental community. The species are provincially red and blue listed species that have been determined to be impacted by forest and range activities.
Q How are Identified Wildlife managed under the Forest and Range Practices Act?

The specific mechanisms to manage Identified Wildlife under the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) are wildlife habitat areas (WHAs), general wildlife measures (GWMs) and higher level plan recommendations.

Wildlife habitat areas are areas of limiting habitat that are mapped and approved by the Deputy Minister of Environment. Wildlife habitat areas are managed according to specific management practices, known as general wildlife measures (GWMs). General wildlife measures may limit forest or range management practices partially or entirely.

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Q What size are WHAs?
A Wildlife habitat areas vary in size from one ha to greater than several thousand hectares, however the majority of WHA are less than 200 ha. For each species a size or range of sizes has been recommended but the actual dimensions of every WHA will ultimately be determined by site specific considerations.
Q Are WHAs protected areas?
A Wildlife habitat areas are not protected areas. They are designated under the Forest and Range Practices Act or Forest Practices Code as are other land designations such as old growth management areas and ungulate winter ranges. Wildlife habitat areas are managed according to specific management practices, known as general wildlife measures. General wildlife measures may limit forest or range activities entirely or partially. The level of development permitted in the WHA is determined by the impact of the proposed development on the species. For example, a WHA may allow for roads but no timber harvesting whereas another may allow for specific methods of timber harvesting as long as a certain percentage of canopy cover is maintained.
Q What are the limitations of the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy?

For the most part, Identified Wildlife provisions are stand level measures that can not address habitat supply, habitat connectivity and population viability.

Identified Wildlife provisions do not apply to urban, agricultural or private land. Many species are most threatened by urban and agricultural expansion but those issues are beyond the scope of the Forest Practices Code.

Only forest and range management practices can be addressed.
Q Are there mechanisms outside of the Forest Practices Code that contribute to the protection of Identified Wildlife?
A Several provincial strategies also benefit Identified Wildlife. The Protected Areas Strategy provides habitat for some species. Other species specific conservation or recovery plans are in place to manage single species such as the Grizzly Bear Conservation Strategy and Marbled Murrelet National Recovery Plan.

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Q How well does the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy satisfy Canadian obligations in federal or international agreements?
A As an outcome of the International Biodiversity Agreement, each province and territory signed the Canadian National Accord and Framework in 1995. It establishes that certain protective criteria be met. BC's success in delivering on this agreement, and thus avoiding federal legislative intervention, will be determined to some extent on how well the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy delivers on the following concerns:
National Accord Criteria IWMS

inclusive definition of "wildlife";
more than vertebrates


process for designating species


permanent habitat protection


protection on all types of land

only Crown forest land

immediate protection of limited habitat when an endangered species is discovered

once site is assessed a part of the limiting habitat may be maintained

recovery plans

not required but recovery of historical sites provided for some species

environmental assessment processes for endangered species

not applicable

Q Are inventory and monitoring considered in the strategy?
A Inventory and monitoring for Identified Wildlife are recognized as being an essential component of the strategy. Inventory information will form the basis of the conservation assessments that will be written in the next few years and guide the placement of WHAs. Although licencees are not required to conduct inventory or research, they may do so voluntarily. It is in everyone's best interest to research, inventory and monitor Identified Wildlife. These activities will provide more knowledge about a species status, distribution, ecology and management. New information may indicate that a species is not at risk or provide new management techniques. And only through inventory, research and monitoring will we be able to assess how well the strategy is achieving its objectives.
Q For those Identified Wildlife that are legally hunted, is it acceptable to protect habitat when doing so affects timber harvest levels?
A The role of the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy is to protect limiting habitat. Populations of some Identified Wildlife are also managed for hunting, but not to a level that puts the species at risk. Without appropriate kinds of habitat, populations cannot survive. Where hunting or fishing will negatively affect populations of species at risk, regulations will be put in place to limit or eliminate hunting or fishing if this has not already been done.

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Legal considerations

Q How will Identified Wildlife provisions be enforced? What are the penalties?
A Compliance is the responsibility of the Conservation Officers, Ministry of Environment, and Compliance and Enforcement Branch, Ministry of Forests. The penalties for non-compliance are listed in the Administrative Remedies Regulation.
Q Who will be responsible for ensuring effectiveness and compliance monitoring of approved WHAs?
A Effectiveness monitoring is the responsibility of the Ministry of Environment. Compliance monitoring is the responsibility of the Conservation Officers from MOE and Compliance and Enforcement Branch, Ministry of Forests.
Q What avenues of appeal are available to the public regarding decisions made and processes used in the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy?
A Decisions made by statutory decision makers may be contested by following normal avenues (e.g. a discussion with the person(s) responsible or with their supervisors) but can only be appealed in court on the basis of lack of judicial due process.
Q What is the dispute resolution process for disagreements regarding WHAs?
A All information on a proposed WHA, including disagreements that cannot be resolved at the regional level, will be forwarded to the statutory decision makers (Chief Forester and Deputy Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection) to consider. Decisions made by statutory decision makers can only be appealed in court on the basis of lack of judicial due process, not on the content of the decision.
Q Do Identified Wildlife provisions apply to private managed forest land?
A Identified Wildlife provisions are not mandatory on private managed forest land. Private land owners may enter an agreement with the Ministry of Environment to develop management prescriptions for critical wildlife habitat where it is felt the species cannot be adequately managed on crown land.

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Q Is there a maximum impact that the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy can have on timber supply?
A During the development of the Forest Practices Code, a joint policy decision was made by government to limit the short-term harvest level impact of the Code to six per cent provincially. Of this six per cent, one per cent was allocated for Identified Wildlife provisions. If it is determined that one per cent is not sufficient to manage these species, only government may increase the limit.
Q Will there be an impact on resource communities?
A As mentioned in the previous question, government agreed to a one per cent impact on short-term harvest levels for Identified Wildlife provisions. Several controls are contained in the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy that will minimize impacts and every effort will be made to ensure this through planning.
Q What controls are in place to minimize impacts on forest operations and timber cut?

There are several checks in place, noted below, to ensure impacts are considered and minimized where appropriate to do so.

  • one per cent impact limit on provincial short and long-term timber supply
  • the Deputy Minister of Environment approves each WHA
  • industry is involved in the establishment of WHAs and can document concerns for the Deputy Minister of the Environment to consider
  • species that have the potential to have higher timber impacts may be addressed in higher level plans which will consider socio-economic impacts of managing for the species
  • already constrained areas, such as Old Growth Management Area, or areas that do not contribute to the timber harvesting landbase will be considered during the establishment of WHAs
Q Will cumulative timber impacts be tracked?
A Yes, timber supply impacts are tracked both provincially and by Forest District.
Q What happens if district or provincial limits are reached?
A At the district level, the impact represents a threshold as opposed to a limit. These threshold assignments may be re-evaluated as the thresholds are met.. If the provincial one per cent timber supply limit is reached, only government may increase this limit.

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Q How will other constrained areas (e.g., parks) be used to meet wildlife needs?
A Whenever possible, constrained areas will be incorporated into WHAs in order to reduce timber supply impacts. Protected areas and other constrained or non-contributing areas will be considered within species conservation assessments to determine what value and how much these contribute to a species conservation.
Q How will the one per cent timber supply capital be distributed among species?
A Sites and number of sites will be prioritized based on conservation assessments which will consider some or all of the following:
  • habitat quality and availability
  • viability of the site
  • population demographics
  • overlap with other red or blue listed species
  • minimum viable populations
  • species dispersal capability
  • # of protected sites for a species
  • species area requirements
  • range of species
  • population and habitat connectivity
Q What if a species impact on timber supply has been underestimated?
A If it becomes apparent that a species will not be adequately maintained within the impact limit set by government, government may recommend the species be considered by higher level planning tables or increase the impact limit for Identified Wildlife.
Q With the release of the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy, what is the status of areas netted out (e.g., Environmentally Sensitive Areas) for wildlife during previous timber supply reviews?
A The status of these areas will be maintained. Since these areas have already been netted out of the timber harvesting land base prior to the implementation of the Forest Practices Code, they will not contribute to the one per cent timber supply impact of the Identified Wildlife Management Strategy.
Q Does the Mining Exploration Act preclude WHAs from affecting the mineral sector?
A Not entirely. The provisions of the GWMs will still apply within WHAs when a) a Licence To Cut is required for clearing timber outside a mineral tenure (e.g., when building an access road across forested Crown land) or b) the terms of a Special Use Permit issued to a mineral tenure holder include terms and conditions intended to protect Identified Wildlife from the effects of road development. This would essentially be a contractual agreement between the Ministry of Forests and the mineral tenure holder.

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Establishing a wildlife habitat area (WHA)

Q Who can propose a WHA?
A Any individual or organization can propose the location of a WHA. Not all proposals will result in WHAs. Proposals are reviewed by a regional Wildlife Biologist (or designate) to ensure the location is in the best conservation interest of the species given the constraints on the timber impact limit.
Q How are WHAs established?
A Wildlife habitat area proposals are initially evaluated by a regional Wildlife Biologist or designate. Once accepted by the RES, government representatives, stakeholders and tenure holders will review the proposal and the draft boundaries. The proposal is then forwarded to the Chief Forester and Deputy Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection for decision.
Q What is the timeline for establishing WHAs?
A The suggested time between district and regional review and forwarding to the Chief Forester and Deputy Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection is 90 days.
Q Will stakeholders play a role in establishing WHAs?
A Stakeholders can propose WHAs and will also be involved in drafting boundaries and commenting on WHA proposals.
Q Can a WHA be de-designated?

Yes, WHAs may be de-designated when

a) the habitat within the WHA is no longer suitable to the species, or

b) a proposed WHA better fulfills the conservation needs of a species, or

c) when a species is removed from the Identified Wildlife list.

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General Wildlife Measures (GWM)

Q Who approves what practices can occur within a WHA?
A The Chief forester (MOF) and deputy minister (MOE) approve GWMs, which are the management prescriptions, that must be followed within WHAs. District managers approve operational plans and ensure plans adhere to the GWMs.
Q Can other practices be used to meet the management objectives of a WHA?
A General wildlife measures may be varied with joint approval of the district manager and regional fish and wildlife manager when a measure includes provisions for such a variance, or the Chief Forester and Deputy Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection may approve a modification to the measure at the time the WHA is approved.
Q What is a "modified measure"?
A A "modified measure" refers to the ability of the Chief forester (MOF) and deputy minister (MOE) to modify a GWM on a case by case basis when WHAs are submitted for approval. Regional government staff and/or stakeholders working on a WHA proposal may recommend that the Chief Forester and Deputy Minister modify a measure to suit a specific site. Only these statutory decision makers can modify GWMs.

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Operational Planning

Q How will limiting habitats in areas with approved cutting permits be managed until considered for WHA status?
A If the cutting permit has already been issued, a licencee is not required to change harvest plans; however, licencees may voluntarily do so.
Q Will the procedure for establishing a WHA slow down approval of plans?
A The establishment of WHAs should not slow down approvals. Knowing the location of proposed and approved WHAs should increase certainty for forest licencees and allow planning to occur that addresses the needs of Identified Wildlife.

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