Landscape-level planning (LLP) is the art and science of developing land management plans for extensive areas. Landscape-level planning is based on the concepts of landscape ecology, the study of how biota, materials and energy exist and flow within landscapes.
Humans are part of the planetary landscape and our impacts on natural patterns are now key factors that influence how landscapes function. Landscape ecology helps identify our past failings, as well as identify better approaches that can meet human needs without unsustainable impacts on natural systems. Goals of landscape-level planning are to protect key components of the landscape ecosystem and to retain pathways for animate and inanimate movements. A further goal is to direct human activities away from areas that will be ecologically degraded by those activities.
A “landscape” does not have a defined size, and LLP can occur at various spatial scales. SIFCo carried out an initial landscape-level mapping and planning process on the area within its Community Forest Agreement (CFA). We know that the CFA affects and is affected by the areas outside of the SIFCo landbase, but we chose to focus on the area within the CFA at this time, as we have little control over management choices in the surrounding areas. The mapping and analysis process extended over the entire CFA, but for presentation purposes we published sets of maps that showed the Red Mountain, Ringrose and Pedro units separately.
The LLP is based on a combination of air photo interpretation, field work, and pre-existing map data sets. The LLP is an ongoing exercise. As we continue to learn about the land within the CFA, we will continue to modify the LLP.
The current LLP is presented as a set of three map sheets for each of the three planning areas. The summary portion of two of the map sheets are available here for review or download in PDF format. The third map sheet, which shows stock forestry constraints that are of less interest to many, is available for review at the SIFCo office.
Map 1 in the series, Terrain Stability and Ecological Sensitivity Interpretations, shows:
protected old forest areas,
protected riparian ecosystems,
areas which are not forested,
areas of steep slopes and/or shallow soils which are not suitable for development,
economically inaccessible areas, and
stable and moderately stable areas that are potentially suited to timber management.
Map 1 delineates the areas that will be left “as is” within the CFA, and thus also shows the areas that are under consideration for timber harvesting at this time.
Maps 1, 2 and 3 also show relatively recent clearcuts or aggressive partial cuts, logged since 1960, in red crosshatching. These are areas that most observers would quickly identify as logged. They usually contain young trees, but have not hydrologically recovered and do not contain a range of natural forest structures (large live trees, large dead standing trees, and large fallen trees).
The mapping of logged areas does not show the full extent of old logging activity in the CFA as there are few lower elevation forests in the CFA have not been logged in the last century. Old partial cutting and highgrading tended, however, to leave a range of forest structures, and/or happened so long ago that the forests on the site have regrown diverse structure and composition. Most observers would not identify these areas as logged until they noticed the old, moss covered stumps. These areas are not included in the logged areas crosshatching.
Map 2, Forest Cover Constraints shows the areas over which Provincial regulations that limit timber harvesting to protect ungulate winter range and visual quality apply. SIFCo believes that our baseline approach to forestry operations to meet community concerns will meet or exceed these provincial regulations. Map 2 is available for review at the SIFCo office.
Map 3, Wildfire – Human Interface using a Permaculture Perspective brings a human perspective to the exercise. This map shows areas where there is high priority for action to manage fuel loads and fire hazard near dwellings and structures. The subject of this map, the interface between human settlement and areas where forest fires may occur, is generally called the Wildland Urban Interface, or WUI for short.
Map 3 is a synthesis of two other maps:
a map of the locations of houses and other structures created by SIFCo, and
the Wildland Urban Interface Consequence/Probability map prepared by B. A. Blackwell and Associates Ltd. for the RDCK
The Blackwell mapping is largely based on modeling from existing data sources, and is limited by the varying accuracy of those data sources, but it does provide a useful starting point for assessment of fire risk and treatment priority. Field assessments are, however, required before any treatment is scheduled.
SIFCo developed a modeling process to prioritize areas for field assessment and treatment to reduce fuel loading. Areas close to homes and other structures are high or very high priority. Areas more distant from homes, but identified by Blackwell as having high consequence or extreme probability of fire, are also high priority.
Moving farther away from homes and other structures, the priority for assessment and treatment drops, but still remains above low in locations where there is cause for concern.
Map 3 shows that, based on the best information on hand, there are significant areas within the CFA that are a high or very high priority for further assessment and likely for WUI fuel management treatment. SIFCO plans to move in this direction, working with neighboring landowners and community to carry out WUI treatments with community support.