header

About Ecological Restoration

Definition

Examples of Structural Considerations

Patch Size Distribution

Connectivity

Seral Stage Distribution

Species Diversity

Area In Old Forest

Tree Species

Crown Closure/Gaps

Coarse Woody Debris

Snags

Shrub Species/Abundance

Grass/Herb Species/Abundance

Berry Species/Abundance

Lichen Species/Abundance

Alien Species/Abundance

Area of Open Water

Area of Rock

Forest Health Factors

Roads and Development Infrastructure

Examples of Ecological Processes

Hydrologic Regime

Thermal Regime

Soil Erosion/Stability

Nutrient Cycling

Eutrophication

Anoxia (oxygen depletion)

Photosynthesis

Evapotranspiration

Pollination

Carbon Sequestration

Species Migration

Wildlife Interactions

Colonization/Success

Cell Division/Growth

Plant Mortality

Tree Recruitment

Ecosystem restoration has been defined as the process of assisting with the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed by re-establishing its ecological processes and structural characteristics (see examples in the charts to the right).  Ecosystems are considered to be degraded or damaged when:

In the Omineca ER program, we incorporate human values in our definition of ecosystem restoration, defining it as:
Management of the structure and function of vulnerable ecosystems to achieve a desired future condition that will sustain ecological services and meet human socio-economic needs.

Application

We use three criteria to select ecosystem restoration targets:

Degraded and damaged ecosystems, and other ecosystems that are vulnerable, are a high priority if they also have high functional importance (that is, they provide important ecological services or products).  Where their management is not already actively addressed by existing programming (for example, by licensees with tenure under the Forest and Range Practices Act) the priority for consideration by the Ecosystem Restoration Society is even higher.    

Potential treatments must align with strategic plan objectives. All projects undertaken by SERN need to be supported with data and analysis that provides a description of the vulnerability or degradation, proposed treatments and objectives, desired future condition, and treatment rationale.  A monitoring plan must also be articulated. 

Some principles that are considered when evaluating the priority for restoration include:

Examples

Two examples of how we manage vulnerable ecosystems to sustain ecological services and meet human socio-economic needs in the Omineca Region, are provided below – one in which we reintroduce fire into the landscape, and one in which we are assisting population recovery of a keystone tree species.  

 

Euchiniko Grasslands » More information

The natural grasslands on the north side of the Euchiniko River are a rare ecosystem that has high functional importance.   They are important because they provide nesting and forage habitat for a different array of species than is found in Euchiniko Grasslands - SERN projectmost forest ecosystems.  For example, grasslands are very important for bird species like the savannah and clay-coloured sparrows who are restricted to such areas.  Some species at risk that are associated with grasslands include the long-billed curlew, short-eared owl, and sharp-tailed grouse.  Grasslands are also host to a variety of small mammals like the woodchuck, chipmunk, the jumping mouse, packrats and other mice and voles, garter snakes, and species of prey like the red-tailed hawk, fox, and even cougar.  Most of the natural grassland sites in the Omineca Region provide important spring range for wild ungulates because the snow leaves these south facing slopes early and, in high-snow years, this can be critical to survival (especially of the young) following a harsh winter.  Such sites may also be beneficial in diverting deer and elk away from the hay and grain crops available on ranches and farms.

This ecosystem is vulnerable because we have been suppressing fire in the area for decades and, as a result, deciduous trees like aspen and shrubs have been encroaching on the grasslands and shading out the grasses.  A low intensity prescribed burn will be conducted in the spring, focusing on treed portions of the area, to improve grass nutrient quality, enhance flowering and seed production, remove unpalatable dead plant matter, create suitable seedbeds, reduce fuel build-up, and top kill aspen and shrubs.  The objective is to maintain or increase the area of grassland and improve bird, small mammal and ungulate habitat. 

 

Whitebark Pine Restoration

Whitebark pine is a key stone tree species (one contributing more substantially to ecosystem function that its small numbers might suggest) because other species, like the Clark’s nutcracker, squirrels, chipmunks, and even bears, regard it as an important food source. Clarkes Nutcracker and Whitebark Pine It also plays a functionally important role in helping to retain snow and water on relatively harsh sites in sub-alpine environments.  Although it grows best on moist, richer sites, and can become sufficiently large to be considered to be merchantable for timber utilization, it is more commonly found on dryer, exposed sites, likely because the Clark’s nutcracker stores seed in seed caches in such areas.  It is considered to be vulnerable because it occurs in isolated pockets, and is being killed by both mountain pine beetle and white pine blister rust (a disease introduced from Europe) at a rate that exceeds regeneration.  It regenerates well after fire but fire suppression in most areas of the Omineca mean that this mechanism of stimulating reproduction has been largely eliminated. 

In 2012, SERN engaged a whitebark pine expert to develop a 10 year tactical plan for restoration of whitebark pine populations that includes: a process for mapping existing locations, identification of rust resistant trees, seed acquisition and seedling production, treatment options, information gaps, monitoring needs, and a summary of operational activities that could be undertaken by SERN or other restoration partners in the coming years.  The idea is to ensure that the implementation of whitebark pine restoration activities in the Omineca are efficient, effective, coordinated amongst stakeholders, and practical.

In 2015, SERN will be adding two other projects to the Whitebark Pine Restoration. One is a restoration plan for Whitebark Pine in the Mount Robson Provincial Park; the other is a plan to promote the recovery of Whitebark Pine in BC. Completetion of these projects is expected this year.