4.6 Biological Diversity and Ecosystem Processes
The best way to protect ecological integrity is by maintaining natural biodiversity and ecosystem processes. Biodiversity is linked to ecosystem processes, such as fire, flood, avalanche, predation, erosion and disease. These processes and the physical environment that produces and supports the diversity of life must also be maintained. However, the role of forest fire, insects and disease in the maintenance of low-elevation old-growth cedar/hemlock biodiversity is uncertain. Human induced climate change may affect these processes, resulting in a negative impact on regional biodiversity.
4.6.1 Strategic Goal
Intact habitats and natural processes support a self-sustaining biological
- To maintain old-growth dependent species.
- To minimize the impact of visitors, operations and facilities on ecological integrity.
- To interfere as little as possible in natural disturbances such as landslides, avalanches, flooding, disease and fire.
- To mitigate fragmentation and loss of valley bottom habitat.
- To maintain, where feasible, valley bottom processes adjacent to the highway and railway that create riparian habitat and wetlands and restore alienated habitat.
4.6.3 Key Actions
- Map environmentally sensitive sites, especially old-growth forests and low-elevation wetlands; prepare management strategies for these areas.
- Maintain an ongoing human use data base to track the number of visitors in summer and winter and determine trends.
- Identify a range of parameters of acceptable change or sociological and biological carrying capacity for the summer and winter seasons.
- Monitor trail tread conditions and impact on vegetation and soils. Resolve impacts through adaptive management and public consultation (e.g., rerouting trails, temporary closures). Consider experimental limits to use (season-long closures or quotas) if required.
- Evaluate the status of forest insects and diseases annually.
- In consultation with stakeholders, set fire management objectives for each fire management zone to maintain natural disturbances without threatening the unique features of environmentally sensitive sites.
- Intervene, where necessary, in the management of cultural resources to prevent loss of or damage to significant ecological resources (e.g., when plans to develop or maintain a historic trail conflict with the interests of a species-at-risk).
- Place priority on inventories, research, monitoring and management for old-growth and riparian communities.
- When making changes to transportation facilities, consider designs that reduce the need to cross or manipulate streams and that make it easier for wildlife to cross the corridor.
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