Wildlife Tree Stewardship Program Home

Species description, sounds, nesting habits & moreWiTS Work

What is WiTS?

WiTS is an environmental stewardship program of the Federation of BC Naturalists (FBCN) that aims to create, coordinate, and assist a network of community stewards interested in conserving wildlife tree habitats through volunteer monitoring, landowner agreements, and community education in Southern BC. Representatives include Environment Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service), Ministry of Environment, and BC Hydro.

The Issue

Of particular concern, are mature trees and mixed tree stands with documented high levels of wildlife use. Communities on Vancouver Island, in the Lower Mainland, and in the Okanagan are losing important wildlife tree habitat to development (subdivisions and commercial ventures), agricultural clearing, and logging.  As communities become more heavily populated and urbanized, wildlife habitat is increasingly shrinking. 

To retain the available wildlife tree habitat, it is necessary for communities to become aware and educated on the importance of this habitat.  In order to accomplish this goal, WiTS is working with communities including landowners, NGO's, and local/regional government with support from federal and provincial government representatives. 

The WiTS program is built on the results of a decade of fieldwork conducted on great blue heron (a blue-listed "vulnerable" species provincially and a "species of special concern" federally), and on bald eagles, by Vancouver Island naturalists and biologists. This program is expanding to include trees and habitat important to other wildlife species.  

Currently, Section 34(b) of the BC Wildlife Act extends year-round protection to a select group of birds nests that include those of eagles, ospreys, herons, burrowing owls, gyrfalcons, and peregrine falcons. For other bird species, the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act and provincial Wildlife Act protects nests only when they are occupied by adult birds, their young and/or eggs. For these species, the nest tree is vulnerable to removal when occupation by birds or their eggs is unknown.  

The WiTS program aims to document wildlife usage and location of wildlife trees as well as conserve wildlife trees.  By definition, a wildlife tree is any standing dead or live tree with special characteristics that provide valuable habitat for the conservation or enhancement of wildlife. They play an important role in forest ecosystems by contributing and maintaining the biological diversity in BC forests (Wildlife Tree Committee of BC).

Community Education

By having the community informed, interested,and participating in land stewardship (trees and buffer area), there will be an increase in the protection of valuable wildlife habitats in the form of stewardship agreements, land covenants, municipal plans and bylaws, and enforcement of current provincial and federal wildlife tree protection.

WiTS is educating communities through distributing brochures and pamphlets, writing articles, partnering with other projects, updating our website, providing an interactive wildlife tree atlas, and giving displays/presentations at community events and at local naturalist groups meetings.

images and information 2012 Wildlife Tree Stewardship Program