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Recovery Strategy for the Mountain Holly Fern (Polystichum scopulinum) in Canada - 2016 [Proposed]

Part 1

 

Federal Addition to the Recovery Strategy for for the mountain holly fern (Polystichum scopulinum) in British Columbia, Québec, and Newfoundland and Labrador, prepared by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Preface

The federal, provincial, and territorial government signatories under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996) agreed to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada. Under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA), the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened species and are required to report on progress within five years after the publication of the final document on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change is the competent minister under SARA for the Mountain Holly Fern and has prepared the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1), as per section 37 of SARA. To the extent possible, the recovery strategy has been prepared in cooperation with the provinces of British Columbia, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if the plan meets the content requirements set out in subsection 41(1) or 41(2) of SARA. The British Columbia Ministry of Environment led the development of the attached recovery strategy for the Mountain Holly Fern (Part 2 of this document) in cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Successful recovery of the species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy. Success cannot be achieved by Environment and Climate Change Canada or any other jurisdiction alone. All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Mountain Holly Fern and Canadian society as a whole.

This recovery strategy will be followed by one or more action plans that will provide information on recovery measures to be taken by Environment Canada and other jurisdictions and/or organizations involved in the conservation of the species. Implementation of this strategy is subject to appropriations, priorities, and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.

The recovery strategy sets the strategic direction to arrest or reverse the decline of the species, including identification of critical habitat to the extent possible. It provides all Canadians with information to help take action on species conservation. When the recovery strategy identifies critical habitat, there may be future regulatory implications, depending on where the critical habitat is identified. SARA requires that critical habitat identified within a national park named and described in Schedule 1 to the Canada National Parks Act, the Rouge National Urban Park established by the Rouge National Urban Park Act, a marine protected area under the Oceans Act, a migratory bird sanctuary under the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 or a national wildlife area under the Canada Wildlife Act be described in the Canada Gazette, after which prohibitions against its destruction will apply. For critical habitat located on other federal lands, the competent minister must either make a statement on existing legal protection or make an order so that the prohibition against destruction of critical habitat applies. For any part of critical habitat located on non-federal lands, if the competent minister forms the opinion that any portion of critical habitat is not protected by provisions in or measures under SARA or other Acts of Parliament, or the laws of the province or territory, SARA requires that the Minister recommend that the Governor in Council make an order to prohibit destruction of critical habitat. The discretion to protect critical habitat on non-federal lands that is not otherwise protected rests with the Governor in Council.

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Acknowledgements

The federal addition to the recovery strategy for the Mountain Holly Fern was prepared by Marie-José Ribeyron and Emmanuelle Fay (Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Quebec Region) with the assistance of Kella Sadler and Matt Huntley (Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Pacific and Yukon Region) and Kathy St. Laurent (Environment and Climate Change Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service – Atlantic Region). Thanks also to Jacques Labrecque of the Quebec Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, to Brenda Costanzo of the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, and to the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Environment and Conservation for their invaluable contributions. We would also like to thank Patricia Désilets, private consultant, for her feedback.

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Additions and modifications to the adopted document

The following sections have been included to address specific requirements of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) that are not addressed in the Recovery Strategy for the mountain holly fern (Polystichum scopulinum) in British Columbia, Québec, and Newfoundland and Labrador (Part 2 of this document, referred to henceforth as “the provincial recovery strategy”) and to provide updated or additional information.

Under SARA, there are specific requirements and processes set out regarding the protection of critical habitat. Therefore, statements in the provincial recovery strategy referring to protection of survival/recovery habitat may not directly correspond to federal requirements. Recovery measures dealing with the protection of habitat are adopted; however, whether these measures will result in protection of critical habitat under SARA will be assessed following publication of the final federal recovery strategy.

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1. Socio-economic Considerations

The provincial recovery strategy contains a short statement on socio-economic considerations. As a socio-economic analysis is not required under subsection 41(1) of SARA, the section on socio-economic considerations in the provincial recovery strategy is not considered an integral part of the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change’s recovery strategy for this species. 

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2. Recovery Feasibility Summary

This section replaces the “Recovery Feasibility” section in the provincial recovery strategy.

Recovery of the Mountain Holly Fern (Polystichum scopulinum) is considered technically and biologically feasible based on the following four criteria that Environment and Climate Change Canada uses to determine recovery feasibility:

1. Individuals of the wildlife species that are capable of reproduction are available now or in the foreseeable future, to sustain the population or improve its abundance.
Yes. There are currently four occurrences of the species in Canada. These include mature individuals capable of vegetative reproduction (and possibly sexual reproduction), which are currently available to sustain or improve population abundance.
2. Sufficient suitable habitat is available to support the species or could be made available through habitat management or restoration.
Yes. The Mountain Holly Fern grows on montane ultramafic (serpentine) rock outcrops, a type of rock formation that is relatively rare at the landscape scale. However, since the species is uncommon and geographically restricted, it is reasonable to believe that sufficient suitable habitat to support the species is present at each site occupied by the species in Canada.
3. The primary threats to the species or its habitat (including threats outside Canada) can be avoided or mitigated.
Yes. The main threat to the species in British Columbia is mineral exploration. This threat can be avoided through conservation measures (e.g., legal measures). There is no serious threat to the occurrence in Quebec. As for the historical occurrence in Newfoundland and Labrador, if it still exists, it is not thought to be threatened by human activities because it is located in an area that is difficult to access.
4. Recovery techniques exist to achieve the population and distribution objectives or can be expected to be developed within a reasonable timeframe.
Yes. Recovery techniques (e.g., habitat management plan) exist for the purpose of avoiding or mitigating known threats. In addition, techniques exist for the artificial propagation of ferns and for their reintroduction into the natural environment. These techniques could be adapted for the Mountain Holly Fern within a reasonable timeframe (Sénécal, pers. comm. 2014).

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3. Species Status Information

The Mountain Holly Fern was listed as Threatened in Schedule 1 of SARA (S.C. 2002, c. 29) in 2006. The species is also protected by the Quebec Act respecting threatened or vulnerable species, under which it has been listed as threatened since 1995. The species is included on the Red List in British Columbia, but is not listed as a species at risk under the B.C. Forest and Range Practices Act. The speciesis not listed under the Newfoundland and Labrador Endangered Species Act.

The following table replaces Table 2 in the provincial recovery strategy.

Table 1. Conservation Status for the Mountain Holly Fern (NatureServe 2015, B.C. Conservation Data Centre 2015, B.C. Conservation Framework 2015, Government of Quebec 2015, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador 2015)
Global (G) RankNote a ofTable 1National (N) Rank  Sub-national (S) RankCOSEWIC DesignationProvincial Status and Designation
G4Canada (N2); United States (NNR)Canada: British Columbia (S2), Newfoundland  and Labrador (SH), Quebec (S2)

United States: Arizona (S2), California (SNR), Colorado (S1), Idaho (SNR), Montana (S1),
Nevada (SNR), Oregon (SNR), Utah (S2), Washington (SNR), Wyoming (SH)
Threatened (2005)British Columbia Red List; B.C. Conservation Framework Highest priority: 2 under goal 3Note b of Table 1

Quebec (LEMVNote c of Table 1): Threatened (1995)

Newfoundland and Labrador: N/A

Notes of Table 1

Note a of Table 1

Rank 1-critically imperiled; 2-imperiled, 3-vulnerable to extirpation or extinction; 4-apparently secure; 5-secure; H-possibly extirpated (historical); NR-status not ranked.

Return to note a referrer of table 1

Note b of Table 1

The three goals of the B.C. Conservation Framework are: 1. Contribute to global efforts for species and ecosystem conservation; 2. Prevent species and ecosystems from becoming at risk; 3. Maintain the diversity of native species and ecosystems.

Return to note b referrer of table 1

Note c of Table 1

LEMV: Quebec Act respecting threatened or vulnerable species R.S.Q., c. E-12.01.

Return to note c referrer of table 1

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4. Population and Distribution

The content of Table 1 of the provincial recovery strategy does not need to be updated except for the year of the last observation of the Mont Albert population (Labrecque pers. comm. 2015). Updated information for that population is presented in Table 2 below.

Table 2. Updated information for the Mont Albert, Quebec population
PopulationLocationLand TenureYear Last Observed and StatusNumber of PlantsArea of OccupancyProximity to Other Populations
Mont AlbertSouth-facing slopes of the Vallée du Diable, eastern flank of Mont Albert, Gaspésie, QuebecQuebec Crown land in Gaspésie National Park2014 Existing population2158 ha550 km from the historical  Newfoundland population; 3,200 km from the closest population in the United States (Colorado)

Surveys were also carried out in 2009 in an attempt to locate the Newfoundland population. They covered only one small area of potential habitat for the occurrence. No Mountain Holly Fern individuals were located.

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5. Threats

The threat assessment for the Mountain Holly Fern was reviewed by a group of Mountain Holly Fern experts in December 2014 using the IUCN–CMP Footnote1 threat classification scheme. This approach differs from that used for the provincial recovery strategy, hence the differences in the assessment results. The description of threats in the provincial recovery strategy remains current and valid. However, an additional threat (recreational activities) has been identified and is described below.

Table 3. Threat classification and assessment table for Mountain Holly Fern
ThreatDescription of ThreatImpactNote d of Table 3ScopeNote e of Table 3SeverityNote f of Table 3TimingNote g of Table 3Detailed Threat
3Production of energy and mining-----
3.2Mining and quarryingVery High - MediumPervasive -Restricted (11-100%)Extreme (71-100%)ModerateMining and mineral exploration
4Transportation and service corridors-----
4.1Roads and railroadsNegligibleNegligible (<1%)Extreme - Serious
(31-100%)
ModerateRoad construction
5Biological resource use-----
5.2Gathering terrestrial plantsNegligibleNegligible (<1%)Negligible (<1%)Insignificant / NegligibleCollection of  specimens
5.3Logging and wood harvestingNot CalculatedLarge (31-70%)Slight
(1-10%)
LowMainly as part of Mountain Pine Beetle control
6Human intrusions and disturbance-----
6.1Recreational activitiesNegligibleNegligible (<1%)Negligible (<1%)Insignificant / NegligibleOff-trail hiking and off-road vehicle use
7Natural system modifications-----
7.1Fire and fire suppressionUnknownLarge (31-70%)UnknownModerateSevere fire
10Geological events-----
10.3Avalanches/ landslidesNegligibleNegligible (<1%)UnknownUnknownSlope failure
11Climate change and severe weather-----
11.2DroughtsNot CalculatedLarge (31-70%)UnknownLowLonger and/or more frequent droughts

Notes of Table 3

Note d of Table 3

Impact – The degree to which a species is observed, inferred, or suspected to be directly or indirectly threatened in the area of interest. The impact of each threat is based on Severity and Scope rating and considers only present and future threats. Threat impact reflects a reduction of a species population or decline/degradation of the area of an ecosystem. The median rate of population reduction or area decline for each combination of scope and severity corresponds to the following classes of threat impact: Very High (75% decline), High (40%), Medium (15%) and Low (3%). Unknown: used when the impact cannot be determined (e.g., if values for either scope or severity are unknown); Not Calculated: impact not calculated as threat is outside the assessment timeframe (e.g., timing is insignificant/negligible or low as threat is only considered to be in the past); Negligible: when scope or severity is negligible; Not a Threat: when severity is scored as neutral or potential benefit.

Return to note d referrer of table 3

Note e of Table 3

Scope – Proportion of the species that can reasonably be expected to be affected by the threat within 10 years. Usually measured as a proportion of the species' population in the area of interest (Pervasive = 71-100%; Large = 31-70%; Restricted = 11-30%; Small = 1-10%; Negligible = <1%).

Return to note e referrer of table 3

Note f of Table 3

Severity – Within the scope, the level of damage to the species from the threat that can reasonably be expected to be affected by the threat within a 10-year or three-generation timeframe. Usually measured as the degree of reduction of the species' population (Extreme = 71–100%; Serious = 31–70%; Moderate = 11–30%; Slight = 1–10%; Negligible = < 1%; Neutral or Potential Benefit = ≥ 0%).

Return to note f referrer of table 3

Note g of Table 3

Timing – High = continuing; Moderate = only in the future (could happen in the short term [&lt; 10 years or 3 generations]) or now suspended (could come back in the short term); Low = only in the future (could happen in the long term) or now suspended (could come back in the long term); Insignificant/Negligible = only in the past and unlikely to return, or no direct effect but limiting.

Return to note g referrer of table 3

Off-trail hiking and off-road vehicle use

Recreational activities such as hiking and use of all-terrain vehicles may cause direct or indirect loss of individuals due to trampling. Off-trail hiking is more likely to cause damage on Mont Albert (Quebec), where a hiking trail exists close to one subpopulation. The occurrences in British Columbia could potentially be impacted by all-terrain vehicles as some of the sites where the Mountain Holly Fern is present can be accessed by such vehicles. This threat does not apply to the Labrador occurrence because access to the site is difficult for recreational activities of any type. Overall, the impact of this threat is negligible.

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6. Population and Distribution Objectives

This section replaces the “Recovery Goal” section in the provincial recovery strategy.

Environment and Climate Change Canada has determined the population and distribution objectives for the Mountain Holly Fern to be:

  • To maintain the distribution of the Mountain Holly Fern and to maintain or, if necessary, increase the abundance of each of the currently known Footnote 2 occurrences Footnote 3 in Canada as well as any other occurrence that may be identified in the future.

The Mountain Holly Fern is a rare plant that grows only on montane ultramafic Footnote4 (serpentine) rock outcrops. Since this habitat type has a very limited distribution in Canada, there is no reason to believe that the species was more widespread in the past. Consequently, maintaining the current distribution of the species is deemed to be an appropriate objective.

The population objective is to maintain the current number of individuals within each of the known occurrences in Canada. In Canada, Mountain Holly Fern is at the northern edge of its range. Biological factors limit its potential to be more abundant (see limiting factors in the provincial document), and there are no data to indicate that the number of occurrences or the number of individuals has been higher in the past. Furthermore, the Canadian population of Mountain Holly Fern is fragmented (due to the nature of its suitable habitat), and its occurrences are very isolated from one another. In order to conserve the species' genetic diversity and to ensure a minimum degree of redundancy Footnote 5 to withstand catastrophic events, it is important to maintain all known occurrences. This includes the occurrence in Newfoundland and Labrador until future survey efforts show that it no longer exists.

The small numbers of individuals in the extant occurrences, particularly those in British Columbia, raise doubts as to their ability to persist over the long term. Estimates of viability for these and other occurrences will be necessary to determine whether efforts to increase the abundance of one or more of these occurrences are required. The approaches described in the provincial recovery strategy (see Table 4) include conducting the research necessary to estimate the viability of the occurrences, as well as adapting existing techniques for artificially propagating and transplanting ferns into natural environments to the Mountain Holly Fern.

The population objective includes occurrences that may be discovered in the future, since it is highly likely that other occurrences of the species exist, particularly in British Columbia, where the Mountain Holly Fern can easily be confused in the field with other holly fern species that grow in the same areas (COSEWIC 2005). The inclusion of occurrences that may be identified in the future in the objective is particularly important in this case, given the extremely small number of currently known occurrences.

These objectives will be reviewed during preparation of the report that is required every five years to evaluate the implementation of this recovery strategy and to measure the progress made toward meeting its population and distribution objectives (section 46, SARA).

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7. Broad Strategies and Approaches for Meeting Objectives

The approaches recommended in the provincial recovery strategy (Table 4) are still appropriate. However, the content of the first broad strategy under Objective 1 must be modified to include strategies to addressthe threat added to the Threats section, i.e., “Off-trail hiking and off-road vehicle use.” The modified content is presented in Table 4.

Table 4. Modified content for the first strategy under Objective 1 in Table 4 of the provincial recovery strategy
ObjectivePriorityThreat or concern addressedBroad strategy to address threatRecommended approaches to meet recovery objectives
1: To secure long-term protection for extant populations and their habitats (areas of occupancy plus appropriate essential habitat)HighMining and mineral exploration, mountain pine beetle control, road construction, slope failure, severe fire, off-trail hiking and off-road vehicle useProtection of habitat and species, management of habitat and species, stewardship, research, enforcement, coordination, communication and outreach
  • Designate the Crown land on which B.C. populations grow for the conservation of natural resources under section 17 of the B.C. Land Act to make land users aware of the location of the species.
  • List the Mountain Holly Fern as a species at risk under the B.C. Forest and Range Practices Act and establish wildlife habitat areas.
  • Determine the amount of habitat required to adequately protect the populations (including those that occur in unstable, sloping habitats).
  • Communicate with and facilitate the development of an appropriate road construction plan with B.C. Ministry of Forests and Range and Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources.
  • Assist the B.C. Ministry of Forests and Range in developing a site management plan for the area.
  • Develop management plans in B.C. that include guidelines on:
    • Mitigating the effects of mountain pine beetle control on Mountain Holly Fern populations, and
    • Managing the risk of severe fires extirpating populations.
  • Develop and implement ways to reduce off-trail hiking and off-road vehicle traffic (e.g., awareness activities, signage).

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8. Critical Habitat

8.1 Identification of the Species' Critical Habitat

This section replaces the “Identification of the species’ critical habitat” section in the provincial recovery strategy.

Section 41(1)(c) of SARA requires that recovery strategies include an identification of the species’ critical habitat, to the extent possible, as well as examples of activities that are likely to result in its destruction. The provincial recovery strategy for the Mountain Holly Fern determined that critical habitat Footnote 6 could not be identified at that time owing to gaps in the data on the species’ distribution and on its specific habitat requirements. Environment and Climate Change Canada has reviewed the available information and concluded that it is now sufficient to partially identify critical habitat. This federal recovery strategy thus identifies critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern to the extent possible, based on the best available information for the species. More precise boundaries may be mapped and additional critical habitat may be added in the future if additional research supports the inclusion of areas beyond those currently identified.

The biophysical features associated with the presence of the Mountain Holly Fern are described in detail in the provincial recovery strategy as well as in the COSEWIC status report (2005), and are as follows:

  • Ultramafic (serpentine) rock outcrops.
  • Outcrops of ferromagnesian rocks with low concentrations of calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus and molybdenum, and high levels of magnesium, chromium and nickel.
  • Found at elevations from 978 m to 1,768 m in British Columbia and from 800 m to 900 m in Quebec, primarily on south-facing slopes.
  • Shallow soils on which herbaceous plants and shrubs typical of ultramafic environments grow.
  • Sparse groundcover that creates dry microclimates, thus excluding many nearby species adapted to slightly more humid microclimates.

The biophysical features of the location of the Newfoundland occurrence cannot be described beyond "the southerly slopes of a dry serpentine ridge," as it was only ever known from a general location reference and has never been re-located. If the occurrence is determined to be extant, the description of biophysical features may be updated.

The presence of a Mountain Holly Fern occurrence and its persistence in a given area requires a larger area than that occupied by individuals:

  • The area immediately adjacent to the occurrence is required for its persistence, as it plays an essential role in maintaining the properties characterizing the microhabitat. This area is referred to as the critical function zone. Footnote 7
  • Features distinguishable at the landscape scale (through use of detailed ecosystem mapping or aerial photos) and which, at that scale, appear as contiguous ecological features with relatively distinct boundaries (e.g., cliffs, banks, or slopes, drainage basins, seepage plateaus, or distinct vegetation assemblages) are also necessary, as they are involved in the production and maintenance of suitable habitat conditions. They represent the ecological context for the occupied microhabitats and are known as distinct ecological features (Sadler 2010).

The critical function zone and the distinct ecological features are therefore necessary for the maintenance and persistence of occurrences of Mountain Holly Fern and must be part of the critical habitat identified for the species.

For each known occurrence of the Mountain Holly Fern, critical habitat is identified by three components:

  1. the area occupied by individual plants or patches of plants (observation points), including the inaccuracy associated with GPS units (5 m to 25 m);
  2. an additional adjacent area of 50 m Footnote 8 corresponding to the critical function zone. When the critical function zones surrounding areas occupied by individual plants or patches of plants overlap, they are merged into a single polygon containing the critical habitat; and
  3. all of the distinct ecological features that contribute to the maintenance and persistence of occurrences of the Mountain Holly Fern.

The polygons containing critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern are shown in Figures 1 and 2. Critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern in Canada occurs within the 1 x 1 km standardized UTM grid squares, where the critical habitat identification criteria and method described in this section are met. Tables 5 and 6 show the coordinates of the grid squares containing critical habitat. The UTM grid squares are part of a standardized national grid system that indicates the general geographic area containing critical habitat, which can be used for land use planning and/or environmental assessment purposes.

Existing anthropogenic features (e.g., permanent trails, roads) that are present within the polygons containing critical habitat do not support the survival and recovery of the Mountain Holly Fern, and are not identified as critical habitat.

In British Columbia (Figure 1), there are three polygons containing critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern, all of them located in the Tulameen River valley. The Mount Britton polygon covers 17.2 ha, the Grasshopper Mountain polygon, 10.4 ha, and the Olivine Mountain polygon, 15.8 ha, for a total of 43.4 ha. The distinct ecological feature identified as critical habitat for these occurrences is the band of ultramafic rock found on Mount Britton, Grasshopper Mountain and Olivine Mountain.

Figure 1(a)(b). Grid squares identified as containing critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern in British Columbia. The units at Grasshopper Mountain and Britton Creek (Figure 1[a], north) and on Olivine Mountain (Figure 1[b], south) within which critical habitat is found are represented by the yellow-shaded polygons where the description of habitat criteria and the method set out in section 8.1 are met. The 1 x 1 km standardized UTM grid square (red outline) surrounding these units are part of a standardized national grid system that indicates the general geographic area containing critical habitat. Areas outside the yellow-shaded polygons do not contain critical habitat.

Figure 1a is a map showing Critical habitat for Mountain Holly Fernin at Grasshopper Mountain and Britton Creek
Figure 1b is a map showing Critical habitat for Mountain Holly Fern on Olivine Mountain and Britton Creek
Long description for figure 1

Figure 1 (a) and (b) represent maps with standardized 1 × 1 km grid squares of the areas that contain critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern in Olivine Mountain (Figure 1a) and Grasshopper Mountain and Britton Creek (Figure 1b), British Columbia. In Figure 1a, 2 grid squares are located in Olivine Mountain. In Figure 1b, 1 grid square is located on Grasshopper Mountain and 1 in Britton Creek.

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Table 5. Grid squares identified as containing critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern in British Columbia. Critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern occurs within these 1 x 1 km standardized UTM grid squares (red outline), where the description of habitat criteria set out in section 8.1 are met.
1 x 1 km Square ID Code Note h of Table 5UTM Grid Square
CoordinatesNote i of Table 5
-Easting
UTM Grid Square
CoordinatesNote i of Table 5
-Northing
OccurrenceLand TenureNote j of Table 5
10FV58366530005486000Olivine Mountain (BC)Non-federal lands
10FV58376530005487000Olivine Mountain (BC)Non-federal lands
10FV58186510005488000Grasshopper Mountain (BC)Non-federal lands
10FV58196510005489000Britton Creek (BC)Non-federal lands

Notes of Table 5

Note h of Table 5

Square ID is based on the standardized UTM Military Grid Reference System, where the first two digits represent the UTM Zone, the following two letters indicate the 100 km x 100 km standardized UTM grid, and the final two digits represent the 1 km x 1 km standardized UTM grid containing all or a portion of the critical habitat unit. This unique alphanumeric code is based on the methodology used for the Breeding Bird Atlases of Canada.

Return to note h referrer of table 5

Note i of Table 5

Land tenure is provided as an approximation of the types of land ownership that exist within the critical habitat units and should be used for guidance purposes only. Accurate determination of land tenure will require cross-referencing critical habitat boundaries with surveyed land parcel information.

Return to note i referrer of table 35

Note j of Table 5

Severity – Within the scope, the level of damage to the species from the threat that can reasonably be expected to be affected by the threat within a 10-year or three-generation timeframe. Usually measured as the degree of reduction of the species' population (Extreme = 71–100%; Serious = 31–70%; Moderate = 11–30%; Slight = 1–10%; Negligible = < 1%; Neutral or Potential Benefit = ≥ 0%).

Return to note j referrer of table 3

In Quebec (Figure 2), there is only one area containing critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern; it consists of escarpments and scree slopes on serpentine rock outcrops on Mont Albert. The distinct ecological feature identified as critical habitat for this occurrence is the band of ultramafic serpentine rock outcrop at the summit of Mont Albert. This includes the alpine tundra plateau at the summit as well as the associated escarpments and scree slopes. This rock outcrop covers a total area of approximately 2,730 ha and is located at an elevation between 653 m and 1,007 m; the Mountain Holly Fern occupies only portions located at an elevation between 800 m and 900 m.

Figure 2. Grid squares identified as containing critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern in Quebec. The units on Mont Albert within which critical habitat is found are represented by a yellow-shaded polygon where the description of habitat criteria and the method set out in section 8.1 are met. The 1 x 1 km standardized UTM grid squares (red outline) surrounding these units are part of a standardized national grid system that indicates the general geographic area containing critical habitat. Areas outside the yellow-shaded polygons do not contain critical habitat.
Figure 2 is a map showing Critical habitat for Mountain Holly Fernin in Quebec
Long description for figure 2

Figure 2 represents a map with standardized 1 × 1 km grid squares of the areas that contain critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern in Mount Albert, Quebec. 45 grid squares are located on Mount Albert in Quebec.

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Table 6. Grid Squares identified as containing critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern in Quebec. Critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern occurs within these 1 x 1 km standardized UTM grid squares (red outline), where the description of habitat criteria (section 8.1) applies.
1 x 1 km Square ID CodeNote k of Table 6UTM Grid Square
CoordinatesNote l of Table 6
-Easting
UTM Grid Square
CoordinatesbNote l of Table 6
-Northing
OccurrenceLand TenureNote m of Table 6
19GQ01387030005418000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ01487040005418000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ01587050005418000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ01687060005418000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ01787070005418000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ01397030005419000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ01497040005419000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ01597050005419000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ01697060005419000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ01797070005419000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ01897080005419000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ01997090005419000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ11097100005419000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02307030005420000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02407040005420000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02507050005420000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02607060005420000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02707070005420000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02807080005420000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02907090005420000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ12007100005420000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02317030005421000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02417040005421000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02517050005421000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02617060005421000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02717070005421000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02817080005421000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02917090005421000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ12017100005421000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02427040005422000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02527050005422000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02627060005422000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02727070005422000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02827080005422000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02927090005422000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02437040005423000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02537050005423000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02637060005423000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02737070005423000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02837080005423000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02937090005423000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ12037100005423000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02647060005424000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02747070005424000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands
19GQ02947090005424000Mont Albert (QC)Non-federal lands

Notes of Table 6

Note k of Table 6

Square ID is based on the standardized UTM Military Grid Reference System, where the first two digits represent the UTM Zone, the following two letters indicate the 100 km x 100 km standardized UTM grid, and the final two digits represent the 1 km x 1 km standardized UTM grid containing all or a portion of the critical habitat unit. This unique alphanumeric code is based on the methodology used for the Breeding Bird Atlases of Canada.

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Note l of Table 6

The listed coordinates represent the southwest corner of the 1 km x 1 km standardized UTM grid containing all or a portion of the critical habitat unit. The coordinates may not fall within critical habitat and are provided as a general location only.

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Note m of Table 6

Land tenure is provided as an approximation of the types of land ownership that exist within the critical habitat units and should be used for guidance purposes only. Accurate land tenure will require cross-referencing critical habitat boundaries with surveyed land parcel information.

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The critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern identified in this recovery strategy is not sufficient to achieve the population and distribution objectives for the species. It does not include critical habitat for the occurrence in Newfoundland and Labrador, whose presence has yet to be confirmed. The schedule of studies below outlines the activities that are required to complete the identification of critical habitat for the species.

8.2 Schedule of Studies to Identify Critical Habitat

This section replaces the “Recommended schedule of studies to identify critical habitat” section in the provincial recovery strategy.

Table 7. Schedule of studies to identify the critical habitat of the Mountain Holly Fern
Description of ActivityRationaleTimeline
Determine whether the historical occurrence in Newfoundland and Labrador still existsNecessary to identify critical habitat for all currently known occurrences, which includes the Newfoundland and Labrador occurrence, until future survey efforts confirm that it is not longer present.2016–2026

8.3 Examples of Activities Likely to Result in Destruction of Critical Habitat

Understanding what constitutes destruction of critical habitat is necessary for the protection and management of critical habitat. Destruction is determined on a case-by-case basis. Destruction would result if part (a feature) of the critical habitat were degraded, either permanently or temporarily, such that it would not serve its function when needed by the species. Destruction may result from a single activity or multiple activities at one point in time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time. Activities described in Table 8 include those likely to cause destruction of critical habitat for the species; however, destructive activities are not limited to those listed.

Table 8. Examples of activities likely to result in destruction of critical habitat for the Mountain Holly Fern
Description of ActivityDescription of effect (on biophysical or other attributes) in relation to function lossDetails of effect
Mineral exploration and miningMineral exploration and mining can cause direct loss of habitat through removal of required substrate, burial resulting from debris or substrate deposition, substrate and microhabitat alteration due to compaction of soil by machinery, and possible changes to drainage.The activity must occur within the critical habitat boundary in order to cause destruction.

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9. Measuring Progress

This section replaces the “Performance Measures” section of the provincial recovery strategy.

The performance indicators presented below provide a way to define and measure progress toward achieving the population and distribution objectives.

The successful implementation of the recovery strategy will be evaluated every five years based on the following performance indicators:

  • maintenance of the species’ current distribution;
  • maintenance or increase , if necessary, in the abundance of the known occurrences whose presence has been confirmed .

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10. Statement on Action Plans

This section replaces the “Statement on Action Plans” section in the provincial recovery strategy.

One or more action plans detailing activities for the implementation of this recovery strategy will be developed within five years following the publication of the recovery strategy on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

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11. Effects on the Environment and Other Species

A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making and to evaluate whether the outcomes of a recovery planning document could affect any component of the environment or any of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy's (FSDS) goals and targets.

Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts upon non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the strategy itself, but are also summarized below in this statement.

The recovery measures proposed to conserve the Mountain Holly Fern are not expected to adversely affect any other species. It is likely that efforts to protect the Mountain Holly Fern will indirectly benefit other species at risk living in the same type of habitat, such as the Green-scaled Willow (Salix chlorolepis; Threatened) and Mountain Beaver (Aplodontia rufa; Special Concern). Recovery actions for the Mountain Holly Fern will be implemented by taking into consideration all co-occurring species at risk, such that there will be no negative effects on these species or their habitat.

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12. References

B.C. Conservation Data Centre. 2015. BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer. B.C. Ministry of Environment, Victoria, B.C. (accessed April 28, 2015).

B.C. Conservation Framework. 2015. Conservation Framework Summary: Polystichum scopulinum. B.C. Ministry of Environment. Available: (accessed April 28, 2015).

CDPNQ. 2015. Centre de données sur le patrimoine naturel du Québec. (available in French only) Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, Direction du patrimoine écologique.

COSEWIC. 2005. COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Mountain Holly Fern (Polystichum scopulinum) in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 18 p.

Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. 2015. Department of Environment and Conservation, Species at Risk website. (accessed May 15, 2015).

Gouvernement du Québec. 2015. Espèces menacées ou vulnérables au Québec. (available in Engllish only) (accessed May 15, 2015).

Mountain Holly Fern Advisory Committee. 2009. Recovery strategy for the mountain holly fern (Polystichum scopulinum) in British Columbia, Québec, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Prepared for the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Victoria, B.C. 23 pp.

NatureServe. 2014. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia.

Sadler, K. 2010. Supporting reference material for critical habitat identification. Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Pacific and Yukon Region. Unpublished document. 5 pp.

Sénécal, A., pers. comm. 2015. Email correspondence to E. Fay. February 2015. President of Fougères boréales inc., Sainte-Sophie, Quebec, Canada.

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Footnotes - Part 1

Footnote 1

This threat classification scheme is based on the unified classification of threats proposed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the Conservation Measures Partnership (IUCN–CMP). For a detailed description of the threat classification scheme, consult the website of the Conservation Measures Partnership.

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Footnote 2

This includes the Newfoundland and Labrador occurrence until future survey efforts demonstrate that it no longer exists.

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Footnote 3

The term “occurrence” corresponds to the term “population” used in the provincial recovery strategy.

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Footnote 4

Igneous rock containing high levels of iron and magnesium

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Footnote 5

Redundancy refers to the presence of multiple populations of a species to guard against catastrophic losses.

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Footnote 6

Critical habitat identification is not required in the provincial recovery process in British Columbia.

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Footnote 7

The critical function zone refers to the area within which the properties or functions (light, moisture, and humidity levels necessary for survival) directly associated with maintaining the species’ microhabitat are present (Sadler 2010).

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Footnote 8

Existing research provides a logical basis for including a minimum critical function zone of 50 m as part of critical habitat for rare plant species occurrences (Sadler 2010).

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