Bulkley Valley Research Centre - Science in the Public Interest

Processes and Structures of the Ecosystems of the Skeena Islands

Project Reference Number: 2004-03

Project Status: Complete

Led by: Sybille Haeussler, PhD, Skeena Forestry Consultants, Smithers

Adrian de Groot, Drosera Ecological Consulting, Smithers; Dave Yole, Burns Lake; Deborah Cichowski, Caribou Ecological Consulting, Smithers; Thyee Forestry Consultants, Telkwa

Funder: Ministry of Forests

The Bulkley Valley Research Centre has received a grant from the BC Ministry of Forests to conduct applied research on the ecosystems of the Skeena Islands, situated in the Skeena River downstream of Terrace.  The research will focus on gaining a better understanding of the dynamics of this globally significant ecosystem with a specific goal of helping resource managers make informed decisions regarding ecosystem management in the area.

Specific research questions to be addressed in 2004 include:

  • What ecosystems are present in the Skeena Islands, including their distribution, current condition, and abundance (the Skeena Islands are known to be almost entirely red or blue-listed ecosystems);
  • Are there undescribed ecosystems or rare plants on the Skeena Islands?
  • What is the range of variability in type, frequency, size  and severity of disturbance on the ecosystems of the Skeena Islands?; and
  • What is the current range of natural variability of the major ecosystem attributes:  soil profile development, stand structural stage (including age class), coarse woody debris, and species composition?

The research program will be designed to assist forest managers to establish desired future conditions in the Skeena Islands, and to identify areas at risk from forest management.  It will also serve as a baseline and possible framework for long-term ecosystem management and monitoring of the Skeena Islands (Table 1).

Results of the project will include:

  • a literature review that includes an assessment of relevant research on the ecosystem dynamics of large river floodplains in the Pacific north-west (Skeena, Nass, Fraser and Columbia), as well as relevant operational studies in the Skeena islands
  • a TEM map, at a scale of 1:20,000
  • a report that describes the research conducted and the results, with a specific focus on describing the historic range of variability of ecosystems on the Skeena islands, the current condition of the Skeena Islands, and any recommendations for managers that arise from those assessments
  • a map that depicts the sensitivity to development (risk) of the ecosystems described in the TEM map.

There will also be a specific extension component, to ensure that the results of the project are available and understood by managers and technical staff with an interest in the questions.

Related Reports

Publication Date Report Title Authors
November 2005 Landscape and Stand Scale Structure and Dynamics, and Conservation Ranking of Skeena River Floodplain Forests Adrian de Groot, Sybille Haeussler and Dave Yole
June 2005 Review of the Hydrology, Geomorphology, Ecology and Management of the Skeena River Floodplain Adrian de Groot