A grass-roots effort to complete ecosystem restoration (ER) work within BC’s Vanderhoof Resource District was started in 2006. In support of expanding ER to the rest of the Omineca Region, the Society for Ecosystem Restoration in North-Central BC (SERNbc) was established in January, 2013. A strategic planning process was initiated in July of 2013 to provide guidance to the society overall, and in support of funding applications. The preliminary results of this strategic planning process are documented in the Strategic Plan. A summary of the plan is shown below.
Forest and land management, development and climate change will impact ecosystem structure and function. In many cases, effects are relatively short in duration, while other influences, individually or in concert, have more lasting effects. Where the impacts result in ecosystems that are no longer able to cope or respond effectively to disturbances, these ecosystems are vulnerable and could become degraded. Key to the continuing presence of healthy ecosystems is our ability to understand when ecosystems are vulnerable and to alter our management approach to foster resilience. Key to ecosystem restoration is our ability to identify degraded ecosystems and implement activities that will restore these ecosystems and their ability to provide ecological and socio-economic products and services.
The purpose of the society is to:
- Identify, treat, and monitor vulnerable and degraded ecosystems in the Omineca Region to achieve a desired future condition that will sustain ecological services and human socio-economic needs.
- Coordinate ecosystem restoration activities in the Omineca Region and foster collaboration amongst stakeholders.
- Acquire technical information on ecosystem restoration and disseminate it to members and stakeholders.
- Inform public and land managers on current ecological vulnerabilities as understood through the implementation of ecosystem restoration.
As described in the mission and purpose of SERNbc above, it will focus on the restoration of vulnerable and degraded ecosystems. A broad range of potential ecosystems could meet this definition. Priority Ecosystem Types that SERNbc will focus on in the coming years include:
- Open Forests – generally impacted by the exclusion of fire as a disturbance factor
- Ecosystems at Risk or Ecosystems linked to Species at Risk – as identified by provincial and federal lists
- Aquatic Ecosystems – including wetlands and fish barriers/fish passage
- Berry Producing Areas – with specific attention to both wildlife and First Nations interests
- Forest Adaptation – supporting assisted migration of tree species in response to impacts of climate changes
Ecosystem restoration projects will be identified, shortlisted and prioritized based on a structured framework to ensure that investments are made in priority areas that represent the best fit with SERNbc objectives.
SERNbc will define values, objectives, indicators and targets for ER projects to support an effective understanding of the objectives of a given treatment and the monitoring of how well these objectives are being met.
As a vision for the next 5 years, SERNbc will:
- Support the implementation of ecosystem restoration activities throughout the Omineca Region, with projects in each of the Resource Districts (Prince George, Mackenzie, Ft St James and Vanderhoof).
- Implement enough projects to create economies of scale to sustain a full time coordinator
- Intentionally partner with First Nations, governments and NGOs to secure funds and plan and implement ecosystem restoration.
- Provide value to agencies and other stakeholders in coordinating ecosystem restoration activities so as to reduce overlap, improve efficacy, and ensure ecosystems in greatest need have the highest priority.
- Be a respected contributor to forest and land management in the Region, providing information to government and NGOs regarding ecosystem vulnerability and management.
In support of this vision, SERNbc will specifically address the key areas of governance and administration, partnerships, landscape level planning and a project development process in order to effectively increase the implementation of ecosystem restoration across the Omineca.