The Nature Trust uses a decision framework to prioritize potential acquisitions that are the most ecologically significant or with the most biodiversity and optimize results within constrained budgets. Decisions on a piece of property are based on types of habitat, geographic areas of focus, relative threat and by what means (fee simple, covenants etc.) the property can be secured.
The priority regions (BEC zones) for The Nature Trust’s focus and where we proactively identify candidate properties to secure are:
- Coastal Douglas-fir – ranked exceptional/high
- Bunchgrass – ranked high
- Ponderosa Pine – ranked high
- Interior Douglas-fir – ranked high/medium
These broad ecosystems (biogeoclimatic ecosystem classification or BEC zones) are based on the data and analysis from Taking Nature’s Pulse: the Status of Biodiversity in BC, 2008 which defined the relative priorities using criteria on ecosystem status; rarity for both species and ecological communities; and threat. Properties located in the priority regions of BC are then considered in a relative evaluation using an expanded set of criteria. The biodiversity significance assesses species richness; rarity of ecological communities and species; and how much of the ecosystems on the site are already protected.
Richness takes into account the variety of species of plants and wildlife while rarity focuses on the number of endangered or vulnerable ecological communities, animals and plants.
At the site level, criteria include the actual condition of the property, including how much of the natural habitat has been degraded by past human activities and the viability of the ecosystems and other biodiversity features being sustained over time. This includes consideration of landscape context and surrounding use (e.g. is it contiguous to conservation lands or in the midst of a future development area).
The relative threat is also assessed. This includes the need to secure or else impending actions (e.g. development) will lead to the loss of biodiversity values and the degree of urgency for management/stewardship actions to avoid loss of biodiversity values (e.g. invasive species management).
Cost and availability are added to the decision criteria.
All of these criteria help us make the best decision in our quest to conserve BC’s natural diversity.