Under a new land use order, British Columbia will increase the protection of the Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem on provincial Crown land to almost 40 per cent, Pat Bell, Minister Responsible for the Integrated Land Management Bureau announced today.
"Protecting an additional 1,598 hectares is an important step in our ongoing effort to preserve B.C.'s Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem," said Bell. "Most of the ecosystem lies on private and municipal land, so even with the Province's significant contribution to conservation, only six per cent of the Coastal Douglas-fir Zone is protected. We will continue to work with local governments and private landowners to ensure everyone is doing what they can to be part of the solution."
The Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem is ranked both globally and provincially as high- priority for preservation, and is home to 29 endangered plant communities. Eighty per cent of the global range of Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem occurs in the southern Strait of Georgia area. Of the 256,800 hectares in British Columbia, only nine per cent, or 23,500 hectares, is provincially owned.
The additional 1,598 hectares will increase the amount of provincial Coastal Douglas- fir Crown land protected from logging and other resource development activities to 9,197 hectares.
The majority of new areas selected for protection are on the east coast of Vancouver Island, between Courtenay and Nanaimo. A copy of the land use order and map is available online at: http://www.ilmb.gov.bc.ca/content/news/2010/07/29/1598-hectares-coastal-douglas-fir-be-protected
Ecologists considered a number of criteria when deciding which parcels to include for protection. These included land parcel size, adjacency to already protected areas, risk of being disturbed, landscape context and ecological diversity.
In addition, social and economic considerations, as well as existing commitments for First Nations treaty settlements, were also factors in parcel selection. During the public review and comment period that closed in February, more than 1,000 individual submissions were received.
Establishing the areas for protection under the Land Act is the first phase of government's conservation strategy for Coastal Douglas-fir. The next phase involves informing local governments and private landowners on actions they can take.
Eleven per cent of Coastal Douglas-Fir ecosystem is owned by other levels of government and 80 per cent is in private ownership.