Boundaries, Eh.


Photo by Nie.

A Canadian Whale? A Vancouver Canucks fan? Drink Labatt’s blue? Smoke du Maurier’s at a Tim Horton’s?  Other clues….

I spent part of last week at a workshop focused on “Integrating and Applying Conservation Science for Transboundary Coastal Temperate Rainforests.”  Basically a lot of intense time thinking about the Tongass in Southeast Alaska and the Mid-to-North Coast of British Columbia (including the Great Bear Rainforest, Haida Gwaii, etc.). 

I was struck by how similar the discussions were to those here on the blog.  People on both sides of the border are struggling with so many similar planning, management, conservation, and community issues.  Lots of the same stuff, but in a much different governing context.

One of the most obvious themes of the workshop is the importance of boundaries in forest management and conservation.  That this place is ecologically connected is beyond question.  It is collectively the largest temperate rainforest in the world.  The region also faces some similar threats, and not just those from the “timber wars” that have long characterized the region. 

Similarities and connections notwithstanding, the region is dominated by boundaries.  Consider just two.  First, there is the obvious international boundary.  So strong is this demarcation that is has impeded the sharing of information and makes it difficult to learn lessons from one another.  The workshop was designed to start chipping away at this problem. 

Another boundary is that between terrestrial and marine conservation.  One of the things making the Tongass so different (and special) compared to other national forests is its marine interactions and context (an archipelago).  Same goes for coastal/island BC.  Take, for example, the fascinating relationship between salmon and forests (a compelling story about why we need more holistic, integrated planning:  background on the “salmon forest project” and associated EquinoxSalmonArticle). Despite these interactions, approaches to protected areas most often focus on terrestrial reserves, and ignores the marine. 

There are other boundaries as well, from disciplinary to professional that play out in sometimes baffling ways.  Of course, a lot of this is old ground, and we don’t need to re-hash all the ecosystem management stuff of the past.  But the situation does raise a couple interesting questions from a forest planning standpoint, including:

1) Does an “all-lands” approach (as articulated by the USFS in its planning process) necessitate “due consideration” of adjacent lands in Canada?  (The NOI states that “plans could incorporate an “all lands” approach by considering the relationship between NFS lands and neighboring lands.  The threats and opportunities facing our lands and natural resources do not stop at ownership boundaries.” 74 Fed. Reg. 67,169. 

2) Are there examples of integrated protected lands/marine areas that are instructive from a wastershed/planning perspective? (The NOI states that “land management plans could emphasize maintenance and restoration of watershed health…”.

2 thoughts on “Boundaries, Eh.”

  1. Martin- I’ll use the pragmatic Rapid City example of what “all lands” means: if the State Park doesn’t allow motorized and the National Park doesn’t allow motorized, so that they are providing many non-motorized rec experiences, then the FS should take that into account and maybe doesn’t need to provide so many of those experiences. I like to think of this as a very real world description of what “all-lands” might mean. (to some people, all-lands sounds like “black helicopters). It also ties into the idea in “One Third of the Nation’s Land” about the need (observed in 1970!) to get federal agencies plannin’ together.

    If people cross the border for rec experiences and to work (which they may or may not) then we should take that into account. The animals and plants definitely do, so we should take that into account. So I would say “yes” to 1) for forests that adjoin the border.

  2. Back in the early days of the NW Spotted Owl Recovery Plan, we had these Province Advisory Committees that were FACA chartered and were supposed to bring the federal family (including research scientists) together with the private land owners and various interest groups to help reach the goals of the plan…owls and key watersheds. They actually worked well in some places…simple, yet elegant, and not a lot of rules, just good will and good leadership…..might be ready for another interation? There were lessons learned there.


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