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British Columbia Ancient Forests News
B.C. land protection insufficient to conserve species biodiversity: report
ForestEthics Solutions calls for new protected-areas to link existing areas and better sceince-based land-use planning
The Vancouver Sun, February 20, 2013
Environmental protection of B.C.’s landscapes is fragmented, inconsistent and falls woefully short of what scientists say is needed to conserve species biodiversity, according to a comprehensive land-use review released Thursday by environmentalists.
The report by Vancouver-based ForestEthics Solutions with assistance from West Coast Environmental Law, says 15.55 per cent of the B.C.’s land base (including private property and water bodies) has been placed in the highest categories of protection. That includes 14.4 per cent as parks and protected areas, and 1.15 per cent as wildlife management areas and municipal watersheds.
Another 13.16 per cent has been given moderate protection, a rating that may allow one form of resource extraction while restricting others, 20.57 per cent of land has a few limitations on resource extraction, and 50.72 per cent of land has no specific conservation or resource-restricted designations.
The existing amount of conservation and resource extraction-restricted lands “fail to protect biological diversity and ecological integrity at the provincial scale,” the report says.
ForestEthics recommends a provincewide conservation network that connects legally-designated protected areas and conservation lands; augmentation of land-use plans by all governments using the best available climate-conservation science and cumulative impacts assessments; and updating of laws and policies to better protect biodiversity and help B.C. transfer to a “clean, green economy.”
WCEL executive-director Jessica Clogg said the report does not provide specific targets for protection, because “ultimately the answer to how much conservation is enough should be informed by the best available science and indigenous knowledge.”
The global Nature Needs Half initiative suggests “protecting and interconnecting at least half of the planet’s land and water is necessary to sustain the health, function and diversity of all life.” Supporters include Joel Holtrop, former deputy chief of the U.S. National Forest System and now on the board of directors of the Wild Foundation.
Jim Pojar, a former forest ecologist with the B.C. government, recommended in a 2010 report for a coalition of environmental groups that half of B.C.’s land base should be managed to maintain biodiversity and locked-in carbon, noting “natural forests store carbon dioxide better than do industrial forests.”
New land designations and tenures will likely be required to guide management of the expanded conservation network outside of existing parks and protected areas, his report stated. Only activities “compatible with the long-term objectives of biodiversity conservation and adaptation” should be allowed in these new areas, his report said.
B.C. is home to three-quarters of Canada’s mammal and bird species, 70 per cent of its freshwater fish, 60 per cent of its evergreen trees, and thousands of other animals and plants, that report noted.