Skip booklet index and go to page content

3. Critical Habitat

This section replaces information in section 7 “Habitat Needs To Meet Recovery Goal” and subsections in the Province of British Columbia’s recovery strategy for Macoun’s Meadowfoam in British Columbia (Part 2). There are currently 31 extant populations of Macoun’s Meadowfoam in Canada, three more since the Provincial Recovery Strategy was prepared (Table 2).

Areas of critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam are identified in this recovery strategy. Critical habitat is defined in the Species at Risk Act as “habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of a listed wildlife species and that is identified as the species’ critical habitat in the recovery strategy or in an action plan for the species” (Subsection 2(1)). Habitat for a terrestrial wildlife species is defined in the Species at Risk Act as “…the area or type of site where an individual or wildlife species naturally occurs or depends on directly or indirectly in order to carry out its life processes or formerly occurred and has the potential to be reintroduced” (Subsection 2(1)).

Top of page

3.1. Identification of the Species’ Critical Habitat

Critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is identified in this recovery strategy. This is not a complete identification because critical habitat has not been identified on Songhees Nation reserve. The Government of Canada continues to work with Songhees Nation towards identification of critical habitat on reserve land and will update this document as appropriate once cooperation and consultation efforts are completed.

Critical habitat in this recovery strategy is identified to the extent possible, based on best available information; more precise boundaries may be mapped and additional critical habitat may be added in the future if ongoing research (e.g., through work by the Province, stewardship and recovery groups, university projects, or related federal Interdepartmental Recovery Fund projects) supports the inclusion of areas beyond those currently identified. The schedule of studies section (found below critical habitat maps) outlines activities required to identify additional critical habitat necessary to support the population and distribution objectives.

Macoun’s Meadowfoam Habitat

Figure 1: Macoun's Meadowfoam is distributed along this seepage track which drains from the crest of the hill in the background and empties on to the beach behind the photographer. The Meadowfoam is located among the short vegetation in the middle foreground.

The habitat of Macoun’s Meadowfoam plants is generally characterized as open areas that are vernally moist, and occur on low elevation rocky or grassy slopes within Garry Oak Ecosystems occurring in the Coastal Douglas-fir Biogeoclimatic Zone on southeast Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, British Columbia (COSEWIC 2004, Figure 1). Critical habitat attributes were drawn from section 3.3.1 “Habitat and biological needs” in the Province of British Columbia’s recovery strategy for Macoun’s Meadowfoam in British Columbia (Part 2) and are listed below. The critical habitat attributes below cover the range of attributes for all studied sites and due to their general nature may not exclude some habitat types that are unsuited to the species. Critical habitat attributes are as follows:

  • Open areas with full sun and short or sparse vegetation (cover of trees, shrubs, and robust vascular plants is never substantial).
  • Elevations less than 195 metres, generally between 5 to 35 metres, above sea level.
  • Less than 2 kilometres, usually <200 metres, from the shore of the Pacific Ocean; snow and hard frosts are rare at occupied sites due to the oceanic influence.
  • Thin soils, less than approximately 30 cm; soil is generally acidic and rich in organic matter and nutrients.
  • Water table during winter is 0 (at the surface) to 5 centimetres above the surface; soil moisture ranges from moderate to moist in spring until the end of April to very dry in summer.
  • Intermediate levels of disturbance from human recreation and animal activities: moderate disturbance may contribute to maintenance of Macoun’s Meadowfoam habitat by reducing cover of competing plant species.

The Macoun’s Meadowfoam is intolerant of shading and the area surrounding the plants and seed bank must be clear of shading shrubs and trees; this area is the canopy opening required by the species. Canopy openings must be large enough that the Macoun’s Meadowfoam plants are not sheltered by surrounding vegetation. The minimum size of openings can be determined based on the height of vegetation able to grow in the area and cast shade on the Macoun’s Meadowfoam (Spittlehouse et al. 2004). An additional consideration with regards to canopy opening is that when tall vegetation falls, it will cover an area of ground for a distance equal to its height.

In addition to openings, specific hydrological characteristics are critical to the survival of this species. Within its Canadian range, Macoun’s Meadowfoam occurs on sites that have constant seepage in the early spring but are very dry during the summer. This seepage is provided by the catchment(s) associated with each group of plants. The catchment area is directly responsible for receiving rainwater which flows along the prevailing topography to the plants. Surface water flow and subsurface seepage from this catchment area is essential to the survival of the Macoun’s Meadowfoam plants. These catchment areas are generally small and isolated within landscape scale catchments.

Critical habitat for the survival of each patch[4] of Macoun’s Meadowfoam is composed of the minimum canopy opening and the catchment area. The minimum canopy opening and catchment area are always connected to the recorded location of a Macoun’s Meadowfoam patch and in all cases will overlap to some degree (no special status is applied to areas of overlapping critical habitat). The default minimum canopy opening required for light to reach the plants is the area bounded by a 20 metres distance surrounding the location of each patch in all directions (20 metres is generally the maximum height attained by trees in the soils surrounding Macoun’s Meadowfoam). The catchment for each patch of Macoun’s Meadowfoam is delineated by following the upslope high point of land which divides water flowing towards the patch location from water flowing away; these catchment areas are generally relatively small and isolated within landscape catchments. Conceptually the catchment can be visualized as a “V” shaped seepage draining into an “O” shaped minimum canopy opening--though in practice the minimum canopy opening and catchment are rarely regularly shaped and it is possible for the catchment to be completely contained within the minimum canopy opening. If the catchment extends beyond the canopy opening, the top of the “V” of seepage influence represents the upper limit of the habitat, otherwise the minimum canopy opening represents the limit of the habitat.

Populations of Macoun’s Meadowfoam are likely prone to large annual fluctuations (COSEWIC 2004). While some habitat areas (a minimum canopy opening and catchment) may not be used by growing individuals every year, the presence of plants in one year indicates that the habitat may be critical for storing seeds and boosting seed production in favourable years. All habitat used at any time by each patch of plants in each extant population is required to achieve the population and distribution objectives and is critical habitat; however, due to population fluctuations this habitat cannot be completely identified based on data from any single year: a long term data set is required to ensure the full range of population fluctuation is captured.

Recent data (Fairbarns 2008; Fairbarns 2011; Webb et al. 2011; Department of National Defence 2011; B.C. Conservation Data Centre 2011) can be used to identify a minimum baseline of critical habitat to support current Macoun’s Meadowfoam populations. It is expected that these datasets do not represent the maximum extent of annual variation in these populations; and therefore, do not represent the total habitat required for the survival of extant Macoun’s Meadowfoam populations. The studies referred to above have been used to guide the location of boundaries within which critical habitat is found. It is expected that over time, continued monitoring which documents annual fluctuations in population extent and habitat use will provide data which more confidently characterizes the total habitat needed by this species.

Where the location of populations are known, but ground survey data regarding the location of critical habitat is lacking, a modeling approach has been used to guide the identification of critical habitat and the location of the boundaries within which critical habitat is found. In these cases the minimum canopy opening can be modeled as the default distance of 20 metres around the polygon or UTM coordinate for the location of the plants and is identified as critical habitat. There is no default model to delineate catchment areas and where ground surveys are lacking catchments remain to be mapped, however, while their precise location is not known they are expected to lie within the identified bounding area and are critical habitat. In the case of small islands, all polygons are restricted to the source landmass and modeled polygons do not extend onto adjacent islands.

Within the geographical boundaries identified for each population (Table 2 ; Figure 2 through Figure 27), critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is the minimum canopy openings and the catchment area associated with the recorded location of each Macoun’s Meadowfoam patch.

Table 2. List of populations and the mapping approach and data sources used to identify critical habitat (CH) for each population. The mapping approach is ground surveys (S), modeling (M), or a combination of both surveys and modeling (M,S).
PopulationCH ParcelFigure (Map Name)Data Source(s)Mapping ApproachCDC EO Name
Fort Rodd Hill, Gotha Point259_01Figure 2 (Fort Rodd Hill NHS)Webb et al. 2011SFort Rodd Hill National Historic Site
Fort Rodd Hill, Yew Point259_02Figure 2 (Fort Rodd Hill NHS)Webb et al. 2011SYew Point
Albert Head259_03Figure 3 (Albert Head)Department of National Defence 2011MAlbert Head
Pearson College Rd.259_04Figure 4 (Mary Hill)Department of National Defence 2011MPearson College
Mary Hill, Northeast259_05Figure 4 (Mary Hill)Department of National Defence 2011MMary Hill, Northeast Base
Mary Hill, South259_06Figure 4 (Mary Hill)Department of National Defence 2011MMary Hill, southeast and southwest slopes
Inskip Island259_07Figure 5 (Inskip Island)Department of National Defence 2011MInskip Island
Duntze Head259_08Figure 6 (Duntze Head)Department of National Defence 2011MNone*
Heritage Point, Chatham IslandsContact Songhees Nation for information regarding this population.Chatham Islands, Heritage Point
Rocky Point, Northwest259_10Figure 7 (Rocky Point, Northwest)B.C. CDC 2011MBecher Bay IR #2, north of
Rocky Point, West259_11Figure 8 (Rocky Point, West)B.C. CDC 2011; Department of National Defence 2011MBeecher Bay Indian Reserve #2
Rocky Point, Southwest259_12Figure 8 (Rocky Point Southwest)Department of National Defence 2011MChurch Point, west of
Rocky Point, East259_13Figure 9 (Rocky Point, East)Department of National Defence 2011MRocky Point, East
Rocky Point, Central259_14Figure 10 (Rocky Point, Central)Department of National Defence 2011MNone*
William Head259_15Figure 11 (William Head)Fairbarns 2011SQuarantine Cove, Victoria
Trial Islands259_16Figure 12 (Trial Islands)Fairbarns 2011STrial Islands Ecological Reserve
Gonzales Point259_17Figure 13 (Gonzales Point)B.C. CDC 2011; Fairbarns 2011SGonzales Point
Gabriola Island, Drumbeg Provincial Park259_18Figure 14 (Gabriola Island, Drumbeg Provincial Park / Gabriola Island)Fairbarns 2011SGabriola Island, Drumbeg Provincial
Beaver Point, Saltspring Island259_19Figure 15 (Beaver Point)B.C. CDC 2011; GOERT 2011M,SBeaver Point, Salt Spring Island
Devonian Regional Park Area259_20Figure 16 (Devonian Regional Park Area)Fairbarns 2008; B.C. CDC 2011;Fairbarns 2011M,SDevonian Regional Park
Creyke Point259_21Figure 17 (Creyke Point)Fairbarns 2008SCreyke Point, East Sooke Regional Park
Cabin Point259_22Figure 18 (Cabin Point)Fairbarns 2008SBeechy Head, bay north of
Arbutus Cove259_23Figure 19 (Arbutus Cove)B.C. CDC 2011MArbutus Cove, north of
Gonzales Bay259_24Figure 20 (Gonzales Bay)B.C. CDC 2011; Fairbarns 2011MGonzales Bay, Victoria
Montreul Hill259_25Figure 21 (Montreul Hill)B.C. CDC 2011MMontreul Hill
Glencoe Cove/ Kwatsech Park259_26Figure 22 (Glencoe Cove/Kwatsech Municipal Park)B.C. CDC 2011; Fairbarns 2011MGordon Head, Leyns Road, Glencoe Cove Park
Cattle Point259_27Figure 23 (Cattle Point)B.C. CDC 2011MUplands Park, Victoria
Downes Point, Hornby Island259_28Figure 24 (Downes Point, Hornby Island)Fairbarns 2011SHornby Island, Downes Point
Saxe Point259_29Figure 25 (Saxe Point)Fairbarns 2011SSaxe Point Park, Victoria
Yellow Point259_30Figure 26 (Yellow Point)B.C. CDC 2011; GOERT 2011M,SYellow Point
Harling Point259_31Figure 27 (Harling Point And Trafalgar Park)Fairbarns 2011SHarling Point

Element Occurrence (EO) Names from Part 1 in the B.C. Recovery Strategy for Macoun’s Meadowfoam (Part 2).

* Indicates a population that is not included in the B.C. CDC Database at the time of writing.

Figure 2:  area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 2. Areas 259_01 and 259_02 (~0.20 ha and ~0.15 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found near Fort Rodd Hill on federal land. The identified critical habitat within these areas is ~0.15 ha and 0.11 ha.

Figure 3: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 3. Area 259_03 (~ 1.5 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on Albert Head on federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.25 ha.

Figure 4: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 4. Areas 259_04, 259_05, and 259_06 (~ 1.0, ~ 5.5, and ~ 23.7 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found near Mary Hill. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.13, ~ 0.27, and ~ 0.5 ha.

Figure 5: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 5. Area 259_07 (~ 0.2 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on northeast Inskip Island on federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.01 ha.

Figure 6: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 6. Area 259_08 (~ 0.37 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on Duntze Head on federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.06 ha.

Figure 7: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 7. Area 259_10 (~ 1.7 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on northwest Rocky Point on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.60 ha.

Figure 8: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 8. Areas 259_11 (~ 48.9 ha) and 259_12 (~ 1.4 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on west and southwest Rocky Point on federal land. The identified critical habitat within these areas is ~ 10.5 ha and ~ 0.25 ha.

Figure 9: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 9. Area 259_13 (~ 43.0 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on east Rocky Point on federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 2.3 ha.

Figure 10: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 10. Area 259_14 (~234.0 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on central Rocky Point on federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 13.0 ha.

Figure 11: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 11. Area 259_15 (~ 0.4 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on William Head on federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.07 ha.

Figure 12: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 12. Area 259_16 (~2.4 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on Trial Island on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.4 ha.

Figure 13: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 13. Area 259_17 (~1.6 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on Gonzales Point on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.2 ha.

Figure 14: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 14. Area 259_18 (~1.1) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found in Drumbeg Provincial Park on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~0.25 ha.

Figure 15: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 15. Area 259_19 (~5.0 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on Beaver Point, Saltspring Island on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 2.1 ha.

Figure 16: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 16. Area 259_20 (~ 6.7 ha) which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this areas is ~1.5 ha.

Figure 17: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 17. Area 259_21 (~0.3 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on Creyke Point on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.06 ha.

Figure 18: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 18. Area 259_22 (~0.5 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on Cabin Point on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.2 ha.

Figure 19: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 19. Area 259_23 (~1.2 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found north of Arbutus Cove on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.4 ha.

Figure 20: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 20. Area 259_24 (~ 2.2 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~0.63 ha.

Figure 21: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 21. Area 259_25 (~ 46.9 ha) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on Montreul Hill on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 3.3 ha.

Figure 22: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 22. Area 259_26 (~ 6.8 ha) which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.7 ha.

Figure 23: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 23. Area 259_27 (~ 33.7) within which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found at Uplands Park on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~1.4 ha.

Figure 24: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 24. Area 259_28 (~ 0.6 ha) which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found at Downes Point on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.06 ha.

Figure 25: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 25. Area 259_29 (~ 0.6 ha) which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found at Saxe Point on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.1 ha.

Figure 26: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 26. Area 259_30 (~ 20.9 ha) which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found on non-federal and First Nation land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 3.7 ha.

Figure 27: area within which critical habitat is found.

Figure 27. Area 259_31 (~ 2.7 ha) which critical habitat for Macoun’s Meadowfoam is found at Harling Point on non-federal land. The identified critical habitat within this area is ~ 0.2 ha.

Top of page

3.2. Schedule of Studies to Identify Critical Habitat

The schedule of studies section (Table 3) outlines activities required to identify additional critical habitat necessary to support the population and distribution objectives.

Table 3. Schedule of Studies
Description of ActivityRationaleTimeline
To identify sufficient critical habitat for the survival of existing populations, additional monitoring of existing populations is required to refine the maximum patch extent and habitat used.Large population fluctuations mean that critical habitat cannot be completely identified based on data from a single year (it may have been a poor year with small populations and some Macoun’s Meadowfoam patches may have been undetectable), therefore, a long term data set is required to ensure the full range of population fluctuation and habitat use is captured.Ongoing, until statistical analysis of population fluctuations provides some measure of confidence that major fluctuations have been accounted for.

3.3. Activities Likely to Result in the Destruction of Critical Habitat

Examples of activities likely to destroy critical habitat are provided below (Table 4). Destruction of critical habitat will result if any part of the critical habitat is degraded, either permanently or temporarily, such that it would not serve its function when needed by the species. Destruction may result from single or multiple activities at one point in time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time.

Table 4. Examples of activities likely to result in the destruction of critical habitat.
ActivityEffect of activity on critical habitatMost likely sites
Recreational use (e.g., walking / hiking, bicycling, animal exercising)Soil compaction and loss of vegetation leading to altered habitat attributes including alteration of hydrological regimes (such as decreased infiltration and increased runoff). Plants may become stressed and die or be unable to germinate due to impaired ability of the habitat to provide suitable soil moisture. Habitat is likely to be lost due to increased erosion.

Uplands Park

Saxe Point Park

Ruckle Prov. Park

Trafalgar Park

Harling Point

Glencoe Cove

Kwatsech Park

Creyke Point

Direct land conversion for human development (e.g., residential and commercial development, maintenance or modification of existing structures)This activity can destroy habitat outright or cause soil compaction and loss of vegetation (see recreational use for effects), shading (e.g., by introduced plants or nearby structures), and altered moisture regime (e.g., impounded drainage, or reduced water flow to the plants through ditching or diversion of subsurface water by built structures). Habitat may be directly lost or light and moisture levels altered such that plants become stressed and die or are unable to germinate due to impaired ability of the habitat to provide suitable habitat attributes.

Arbutus Cove

Devonian Park Area

Downes Point

Montreul Hill

Rice Farm

Yellow Point Lodge

Landscaping activities (e.g., mowing, trail building, planting)Landscaping can cause direct land conversion, soil compaction, and loss of vegetation (see recreational use for effect), altered moisture regime (see direct land conversion for effect), and introduction of invasive alien plant species (e.g., intentional plantings or accidental introductions such as facilitated by unclean machinery. Invasive alien plants species compete with Macoun’s Meadowfoam and alter the availability of light, water, and nutrients in the habitat, such that the habitat is unlikely to provide the necessary habitat conditions required by Macoun’s Meadowfoam. Plants may become stressed and die, or be unable to germinate.

Arbutus Cove

Devonian Park area

Downes Point

Montreul Hill

Rice Farm

Yellow Point Lodge

Top of page


[4] Patch is a term used to refer to a single or group of several plants in close proximity. A specific mapping scale and minimum separation distance have not been used to quantitatively define a patch; the identification of patches is based on survey work performed by a biologist familiar with the species. Lacking any detailed information on seed bank extent, the seed bank is assumed to be included within each patch: the only information pertaining to the spatial extent of the Macoun’s Meadowfoam seed bank is derived from the physical characteristics of the seeds and dispersal distance is probably very limited (COSEWIC 2004).