Protecting Habitat

Our operational plans contain conservation measures to protect habitat for species of management concern (which include species at risk as well as those of high concern to the public such as moose, marten and mule deer), and we monitor general trends in habitat types, elements and patterns.

Canfor has identified 10 species likely occurring in our operating areas in British Columbia and Alberta that are red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and which may be impacted by forestry. The suckley cuckoo bumblebee is classified as critically endangered; whitebark pine as endangered; rusty blackbird, western bumblebee, yellow-banded bumblee, mountain lady’s slipper, bull trout and caribou are vulnerable, olive-sided flycatcher and western white pine are near-threatened.

There are 31 species listed under Canada’s Species at Risk Act occurring within our operating areas that may be impacted by forestry, including the western screech owl, Williamson’s sapsucker, American badger, whitebark pine and Rocky Mountain tailed frog. We use special management practices and monitoring to meet the habitat requirements of species at risk in our operating areas. For example, we support the Williamson’s sapsucker by leaving an average of 85 trees per hectare within 500 metres of known nests (cavities in trees), including seven dead or dying trees with cavities per hectare. Canfor has worked closely with the Canadian Wildlife Service over the past 10 years to define and refine habitat requirements and population size for this species in the East Kootenays.

Resource decisions typically consider the impacts of the activities of industry within sectors, i.e., mining projects do not consider the impacts of forestry, and vice versa. A cumulative effects management framework project in the Elk Valley of southeastern British Columbia has been assessing current and projected future impacts of all human developments on the landscape – such as mining, forestry, urban, rural, highways and railways – relative to historic conditions, to provide a framework for informed decision making.

Five valued components were selected to assess impacts: old growth forest, westslope cutthroat trout, riparian forest, grizzly bear habitat and bighorn sheep habitat. Each had several indicators associated with it, for example, road density near streams for trout or huckleberry fields for grizzly bears. In addition to assessing impacts, strategies were proposed and modelled to assess the best way to mitigate the impacts of human development. Kari Stuart-Smith, Canfor’s senior forest scientist, was an integral part of the working team guiding the project and was on the expert panel for old growth forest. Kari and Canfor planners dedicated many hours to the review of the reports for each value component to ensure accuracy and transparency.

The 2016 FSC surveillance audit found that Canfor identifies and delineates threatened and endangered species on maps, and trains staff and contractors to identify species at risk. It described Canfor’s monitoring program as robust, and noted that effects of climate change have been incorporated into regeneration impacts. It found that we have a detailed annual monitoring program to assess the effectiveness of management strategies to maintain or enhance conservation attributes.

In 2017, changes were made to the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, which was signed in 2010 by major Canadian forest companies and environmental groups. All parties felt a more effective and responsive implementation model was needed for this collaborative, multi-year agreement that set environmental and economic sustainability goals in more than 72 million hectares of boreal forest across Canada.

We agreed to continue with a number of sustainable boreal forest projects that will be led by industry but continue to involve our environmental partners. Canfor staff are actively involved in four projects, including two related to habitat. We are helping to develop mapping and beneficial management practices for moose, and beneficial forestry management practices for marten. The projects will be completed in 2018, and results will be rolled out to project partners in workshops.