Wildlife Tree Stewardship Program Home

Species description, sounds, nesting habits & moreWhat Can Be Done?

Currently, Section 34(b) of the BC Wildlife Act extends year-round protection to a select group of birds' nests that include those of bald eagles, ospreys, and great blue herons.  For other bird species, the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act and provincial Wildlife Act protect nests only when they are occupied by adult birds, their young, and/or eggs.

However, there is very little legislation that protects the actual wildlife habitat especially on private land [Demarchi & Bentley, 2004].  “In the Okanagan, southern Vancouver Island and the lower mainland, where our most endangered ecosystems are located, a large percentage of critical habitat is on private land [Sandborn]”.

Often seen are properties with a single nest tree remaining because the nest is protected under the Wildlife Act. If there is no other legislation pertaining to the buffer area surrounding the tree (and often there isn't), then clearing can occur right up to the base of the tree and subsequent developments can be built.  Due to this development, the health of the tree is often compromised by hydrology alteration and root damage.  Eventually, the landowner becomes concerned about the huge tree falling on adjacent buildings and applies for the nest tree to be removed.  Often, the application is successful because the tree has become a human safety issue.

Species description, sounds, nesting habits & moreWhat can be done?

  1. WiTS is working with local governments concerning wildlife trees and community planning.  Through the Local Government Act, local governments can write legislation to protect buffer areas around wildlife trees.  WiTS is offering to share data on known wildlife nest trees and currently shares data with the following local governments: District of Campbell River; Regional District of Comox-Strathcona; Regional District of Nanaimo; City of Nanaimo; Cowichan Valley Regional District; Islands Trust; District of Saanich; District of Central Saanich; District of North Saanich; and working towards data sharing agreements with the District of North Cowichan; District of Metchosin; Town of Ladysmith; and City of Surrey.

    Contact one of our regional representatives for more information on what local governments can do to protect wildlife trees.

  2. WiTS is educating landowners and communities on the stewardship and value of wildlife trees.

  3. WiTS is identifying, mapping, and ground-truthing wildlife nest trees through our base of more than 200 monitors and registered professional biologist.

  4. WiTS is reporting threats to nest trees through more than 200 monitors in the field.

  5. WiTS is partnering with other conservation and stewardship groups to expand the program.

  6. WiTS is a multi-agency program with representatives from Canadian Wildlife Service, Ministry of Environment, BC Hydro and the Federation of BC Naturalists.

It is interesting that many people who live in southern British Columbia appreciate having trees and wildlife in their environment but do not realize how quickly this habitat is being lost.  Interestingly, Roderick Haig Brown wrote about conserving The Big Fir in 1950.  Besides being important wildlife habitat, the natural environment provides aesthetic, spiritual, and recreational value to human life.

Species description, sounds, nesting habits & moreTHE BIG FIR...
nearly 500 years old, 200 feet tall, 6 feet in diameter.

People often ask me why I don't cut down the Big Fir. "It's dying," they say. "Anyone can see that. And you'd get ten years' good wood out of it." Sure, it's dying. No one knows that better than I do. I've been watching it for nearly twenty years now....So long as any part of it is green I want it to stand.

As it is, the Big Fir has many splendid moments. In spite of the dead top and the great blisters of the conk high on the trunk, it remains magnificent...I have watched a hundred, perhaps a thousand, eagles perch in its uppermost branches...I have seen it plastered in snow from ground to top, standing tall and straight in the sunlight..I have watched flickers and pileated woodpeckers and downy woodpeckers search the crevices of the tree's bark for grubs...

Only a sentimentalist could give importance to such a thing. Yet I shall look up at the Big Fir a thousand times or more before I die, and never without emotion.

images and information 2012 Wildlife Tree Stewardship Program