Guidelines to support implementation of the Great Bear Rainforest Order with respect to Old Forest and Listed Plant Communities.
The Great Bear Rainforest Order (GBRO), established January 2016, presents legal objectives for the protection of Old Forests and Red- and Blue-Listed Plant Communities (Listed Communities) within the timber harvesting land base of the Great Bear Rainforest. Although the direction on management and conservation of both Old Forest and Listed Communities is conceptually straightforward, practical field implementation is challenging due to the lack of explicit field assessment criteria. This guidance document provides an overview of key aspects of the GBRO with respect to Old Forest and Listed Communities, and interpretation of the text in the GBRO with reference to current ecological concepts. Additionally, the document discusses how the GBRO text relates to the B.C. Conservation Data Centre methods for assessing Red- and Blue-Listed Ecological Communities. A set of field keys is provided to facilitate consistent application of ecological concepts to meet the intent of the GBRO objectives for Old Forest and Sufficiently Established Listed Communities. The keys incorporate initial minimum criteria for certain ecological features, and an index that integrates a suite of old forest attributes (the Forest Attribute Score) based on features that reflect the complexity of these older coastal, forested ecosystems. Both keys require the field practitioner to determine stand age and occurrence of a Veteran Overstory Tree layer. To evaluate the requirement for protection of Listed Communities, the level of understory development must also be evaluated. Calculation of a Forest Attribute Score requires the assessment of six stand attributes: density of Veteran Overstory Trees, density of large snags, vertical canopy differentiation, understory shrub and herb cover, amount of coarse woody debris, and stand disturbance history.