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Recovery Strategy for the Tall Bugbane (Actaea elata) in Canada - 2017

Part 1 - Federal Addition to the Recovery Plan for the Tall Bugbane (Actaea elata var. elata) in British Columbia, 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 SAR Public Registry.

The Minister of Environment and Climate Change is the competent minister under SARA for the Tall Bugbane and has prepared the federal component of this recovery strategy (Part 1), as per section 37 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the Province of British Columbia as per section 39(1) of SARA. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (sub-sections 41(1) or (2)). The Province of British Columbia provided the attached recovery plan for the Tall Bugbane (Part 2) as science advice to the jurisdictions responsible for managing the species in British Columbia. It was prepared in cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not 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 Tall Bugbane 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 and Climate Change 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 critical habitat is identified, either in a recovery strategy or an action plan, SARA requires that critical habitat then be protected.

In the case of critical habitat identified for terrestrial species including migratory birds SARA requires that critical habitat identified in a federally protected areaFootnote 1 be described in the Canada Gazette within 90 days after the recovery strategy or action plan that identified the critical habitat is included in the public registry.  A prohibition against destruction of critical habitat under ss. 58(1) will apply 90 days after the description of the critical habitat is published in the Canada Gazette.

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.

If the critical habitat for a migratory bird is not within a federal protected area and is not on federal land, within the exclusive economic zone or on the continental shelf of Canada, the prohibition against destruction can only apply to those portions of the critical habitat that are habitat to which the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 applies as per SARA ss. 58(5.1) and ss. 58(5.2).

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. 

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 Plan for the Tall Bugbane (Actaea elata var. elata) in British Columbia (Part 2 of this document, referred to henceforth as "the provincial recovery plan") and/or to provide updated or additional information.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is adopting the British Columbia Recovery Plan (Part 2) with the exception of section 7.1: Description of the Species' Survival and Recovery Habitat, Appendix 2: Survival habitat polygons for Tall Bugbane, and Appendix 3: Best management practices for Tall Bugbane. In place of section 7.1, Environment and Climate Change Canada has developed a section on critical habitat.

Under SARA, there are specific requirements and processes set out regarding the protection of critical habitat. Therefore, statements in the provincial recovery plan 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.

1. Critical habitat

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. A primary consideration in the identification of critical habitat is the amount, quality, and locations of habitat needed to achieve the population and distribution objectives.

The 2015 provincial recovery plan for Tall Bugbane includes a written and geospatial description of survival and recovery habitat. Environment and Climate Change Canada accepts the description of survival and recovery habitat provided in the provincial recovery plan, as the basis for critical habitat identification in the federal recovery strategy, with modification (as follows) to address specific requirements of SARA. More precise boundaries may be mapped, and additional critical habitat may be added in the future if additional information supports the inclusion of areas beyond those currently identified.

Critical habitat for the Tall Bugbane can only be partially identified at this time. Critical habitat cannot yet be identified for six populations owing to a high level of location uncertainty and/or unknown status: Chilliwack River (Population #8), Mount Cheam (Population #9), Cheam Peak (Population #10), Sumas Mountain (Population #11), Liumchen Mountain (Population #12), and Tamihi Trail (Population #13). Additional, broader-scale connective habitat between Tall Bugbane populations is also required, to allow for population dispersal, dynamics, and response to changing habitat conditions in the presence of climate change and/or local threats. When the relevant knowledge gaps relating to these factors are addressed, critical habitat should be identified to maintain broad-scale connectivity. A schedule of studies (Section 1.2) outlines the activities required to identify additional critical habitat necessary to support the population and distribution objectives for the species. The identification of critical habitat will be updated when the information becomes available, either in a revised recovery strategy or action plan(s).

1.1 Identification of the species' critical habitat

Geospatial location of areas containing critical habitat

Tall Bugbane is found in moist, old-growth and mature forests, in the Cultus Lake–Chilliwack River drainage of southwest British Columbia. Critical habitat is identified for seven extant populations; these are linked with the population numbers provided in the provincial recovery plan:

  • North Vedder Mountain (Population #1)
  • South Vedder Mountain (Population #2)
  • Upper Tamihi (Population #3)
  • Chipmunk Creek (Population #4)
  • Elk Mountain (Population #5)
  • Mount Thom (Population #6)
  • Operators of Specialized Engineering Equipment (Opsee) (Population #7)

The area containing critical habitat for Tall Bugbane is based on three additive components: (1) the area occupied by individual plants or patches of plants, including the associated potential location error from Global Positioning System (GPS) units (ranging from 5 m to 25 m uncertainty distance); (2) a 50 m (i.e., critical function zone distanceFootnote 2) to encompass immediately adjacent areas; and (3) an additional  200 m distance to support the broader-scale ecosystem processes occurring in mature, mixed coniferous forests that are integral to the production and maintenance of suitable microhabitat conditions for Tall Bugbane, and to retain some degree of connective habitat between sub-populations of plants.

Biophysical attributes of critical habitat

Tall Bugbane is found in moist, old-growth and mature forests composed of mixed Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) or Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) – Western Hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), with some amount of Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum) representation. Tall Bugbane is a rhizomatous species that grows in canopy gaps (patches of high understory light) within the mature- to old-growth forests where it is found. Tall Bugbane prefers moist habitats, typically occurring near shaded watercourses (creeks/streams/rivers), moist slopes, or seepage areas with stable hydrological conditions provided by subsurface moisture. As the species occurs in canopy gaps, which is a natural and relatively transient habitat type within mature- and old-growth forests, it is important to recognize that microhabitat suitability, and correspondingly the species' local population and distribution, may shift in space and time within the broader-scale forest ecosystem. Therefore, maintaining the integrity of the broader contextual forest ecosystem (i.e., allowing for the perpetuation of natural canopy gap dynamics, moisture and humidity) is important to the survival and recovery of the species.

The areas containing critical habitat for Tall Bugbane (totalling 1304.7 ha) are presented in Figures 1-5. The critical function zone, and broader ecosystem context areas as described above comprise the biophysical attributes of critical habitat for this species, and therefore the shaded yellow polygons (units) shown on the map represent a close approximation of actual critical habitat. Within these polygons, unsuitable habitat such as elevations above 1600 mFootnote 3, and existing anthropogenic features (e.g., building surfaces, running surfaces of paved roads and railways) do not possess the biophysical attributes required by Tall Bugbane and they are not identified as critical habitat. The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid overlay shown on this figure is a standardized national grid system that highlights the general geographic area containing critical habitat, for land use planning and/or environmental assessment purposes.

Figure 1. Critical habitat for Tall Bugbane in Canada is represented by the yellow shaded polygons (units) where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 1.1 are met. The detailed polygons show the area within which critical habitat is found at North Vedder Mountain (Population #1; 577.2 ha). The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid overlay (red outline) shown on this figure is part of a standardized national grid system used to indicate the general geographic area within which critical habitat is found in Canada. Areas outside of the shaded yellow polygons do not contain critical habitat.
Image of map (see long description below)
Long description for Figure 1

Figure 1 shows the 19 1x1 km grid squares where critical habitat for the Tall Bugbane is found in North Vedder Mountain in British Columbia. The grid squares are found in the South of British Columbia in the Chilliwack region. There are two continuous areas of concentration. The main area is distributed among 17 grid squares and the second area is distributed among 4 grid squares.

Figure 2. Critical habitat for Tall Bugbane in Canada is represented by the yellow shaded polygons (units) where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 1.1 are met. The detailed polygons show the area within which critical habitat is found at South Vedder Mountain (Population #2; 160.3 ha). The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid overlay (red outline) shown on this figure is part of a standardized national grid system used to indicate the general geographic area within which critical habitat is found in Canada. Areas outside of the shaded yellow polygons do not contain critical habitat.
Image of map (see long description below)
Long description for Figure 2

Figure 2 shows the 6 1x1 km grid squares where critical habitat for the Tall Bugbane is found in South Vedder Mountain in British Columbia. The grid squares are found in the South of British Columbia in the Chilliwack region. There are three distinct areas of concentration. The first area is distributed among three grid squares and the second area is distributed among two grid squares between the other two areas. The third area is distributed among four grid squares.

Figure 3. Critical habitat for Tall Bugbane in Canada is represented by the yellow shaded polygons (units) where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 1.1 are met. The detailed polygons show the area within which critical habitat is found at Upper Tamihi (Population #3; 19.6 ha) and Elk Mountain (Population #5; 291.6 ha). The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid overlay (red outline) shown on this figure is part of a standardized national grid system used to indicate the general geographic area within which critical habitat is found in Canada. Areas outside of the shaded yellow polygons do not contain critical habitat.
Image of map (see long description below)
Long description for Figure 3

Figure 3 shows the 12 1x1 km grid squares where critical habitat for the Tall Bugbane is found in Elk Mountain and Upper Tamihi in British Columbia. The grid squares are found in the South of British Columbia in the Chilliwack region. Six areas are scattered in nine grid squares in the northern section of the map which correspond to the Elk Mountain. The Uper Tamihi corresponds to one area of concentration spread into two grid squares in the southern section of the map.

Figure 4. Critical habitat for Tall Bugbane in Canada is represented by the yellow shaded polygons (units) where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 1.1 are met. The detailed polygons show the area within which critical habitat is found at Chipmunk Creek (Population #4; 19.6 ha). The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid overlay (red outline) shown on this figure is part of a standardized national grid system used to indicate the general geographic area within which critical habitat is found in Canada. Areas outside of the shaded yellow polygons do not contain critical habitat.
Image of map (see long description below)
Long description for Figure 4

Figure 4 shows the two 1x1 km grid squares where critical habitat for the Tall Bugbane is found in Chipmunk Creek in British Columbia. The grid squares are found in the South of British Columbia in the Chilliwack region. There is one area of concentration which is mostly found on one grid square in the center of the map.

Figure 5. Critical habitat for Tall Bugbane in Canada is represented by the yellow shaded polygons (units) where the criteria and methodology set out in Section 1.1 are met. The detailed polygons show the area within which critical habitat is found at Mount Thom (Population #6; 39.7 ha) and Opsee (Population #7; 196.7 ha). The 1 km x 1 km UTM grid overlay (red outline) shown on this figure is part of a standardized national grid system used to indicate the general geographic area within which critical habitat is found in Canada. Areas outside of the shaded yellow polygons do not contain critical habitat.
Image of map (see long description below)
Long description for Figure 5

Figure 5 shows the 10 1x1 km grid squares where critical habitat for the Tall Bugbane is found in Mount Thom and Opsee in British Columbia. The grid squares are found in the South of British Columbia in the Fraser Valley region. There are four areas of concentration. Three of them are concentrated in eight grid squares in the Opsee area found in the south of the Chiliwack River. The Mount Thom area is located north of the Chiliwack River and is spread into two grid squares.

1.2 Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat

The following schedule of studies (Table 1) outlines the activities required to complete the identification of critical habitat for Tall Bugbane; population numbers are provided in reference to those in the provincial recovery plan.

Table 1. Schedule of studies to identify critical habitat for Tall Bugbane
Description of activityRationaleTimeline
Undertake repeated, comprehensive surveys in sites with records of high location uncertainty and unknown status: Chilliwack River (Population #8), Mount Cheam (Population #9), to identify the location of these records. These sites could not be mapped and land tenure could not be determined.Critical habitat could not be identified for two populations owing to their "unknown" extant status, and the high location uncertainty associated with records. Recent, comprehensive, targeted surveys are lacking. Without further information on the status and location of these populations, it is unknown whether there is sufficient critical habitat identified for Tall Bugbane.2017-2022
Undertake repeated, comprehensive surveys in sites with historical records: Cheam Peak (Population #10), Sumas Mountain (Population #11), Liumchen Mountain (Population #12), and Tamihi Trail (Population #13), to reconfirm and identify any additional Tall Bugbane plants occurring in remaining patches of suitable habitat, and investigate the feasibility of habitat restoration at these sites so that Tall Bugbane can reestablish (via natural dispersal from adjacent populations, and/or deliberate reintroduction).Critical habitat could not be identified for four populations owing to their "historical" status; it is unknown if suitable habitat for Tall Bugbane persists at these sites, and/or if it could be made suitable with restoration. In addition, recent, comprehensive, targeted surveys are lacking. Further information on the status and location of these populations, and site habitat suitabilities are required to identify sufficient critical habitat for Tall Bugbane.2017-2022
Address knowledge gaps relating to longevity, population dynamics, genetic strength, pollination, dormancy, and response to changing habitat conditions in the presence of climate change and/or local threats.Further information is required to adequately identify critical habitat to maintain broad-scale connectivity between populations.2017-2022

1.3 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 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 or multiple activities at one point in time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time.

The provincial recovery strategy provides a description of limiting factors and potential threats to Tall Bugbane. Activities described in Table 2 include those likely to cause destruction of critical habitat for the species; however, destructive activities are not limited to those listed.

Table 2. Examples of activities likely to result in destruction of critical habitat for Tall Bugbane in Canada. IUCN Threat numbers are in accordance with the IUCN-CMP (World Conservation Union–Conservation Measures Partnership) unified threats classification system (CMP 2010).
Description of activityRationaleAdditional information
Forest harvest activities and/or removal of any Bigleaf Maple trees within the area containing critical habitat.Forest harvest can result in direct loss of habitat by removal or burial of biophysical attributes required by Tall Bugbane, and/or indirect loss by alteration of local microsite conditions (such as light and moisture) such that the habitat is no longer suitable for Tall Bugbane; loss of forest habitat in surrounding areas also prevents the natural development of new canopy gaps for recruitment. Forest harvest can have further indirect effects in degrading habitat, by increasing the potential establishment of alien invasive plants, and/or ingrowth of competing vegetation.Related IUCN-CMP Threat: #5.3
Forest harvest is a threat at several sites. To date, at least 2 B.C. populations have been lost due to clearcutting. Logging operations contribute to slow regeneration, and habitat fragmentation.
Conversion of landscape for human use and development: creation of new structures, houses, roads, railroads, stream crossings or diversions (including culverting).Conversion of landscape for human use and development can result in direct loss of habitat by removal or burial of biophysical attributes required by Tall Bugbane. Indirect loss of critical habitat can also occur by alteration of local microsite conditions (such as light and moisture, hydrological conditions) to the extent that it is no longer suitable for Tall Bugbane.Related IUCN-CMP Threat: #1.1, 1.3, 4.1
The Fraser Valley continues to be an area of concentrated land development and increasing urbanization. This is particularly true near Promontory and the Ryder Lake areas in Chilliwack and surrounding areas. Developments further promote establishment of alien invasive species, and unmanaged recreational activities.
Recreation activities: creation and/or expansion of existing recreational areas or trails (hiking, dirt-biking, ATVs, etc.).Conversion of landscape for recreation activities can result in direct loss of habitat by removal or burial of biophysical attributes required by Tall Bugbane. Indirect loss of critical habitat can also occur by alteration of local microsite conditions (such as light and moisture, hydrological conditions) to the extent that it is no longer suitable for Tall Bugbane.Related IUCN-CMP Threat: #1.3, 6.1
The development of recreation areas on Vedder and Elk Mountains is an increasing concern.
Roadside (or other linear development) maintenance activities such as vegetation clearing, infilling or depositing materials beyond running surface of existing roads.Roadway grading, as well as grass trimming and brush cutting, can result in removal or burial of habitat required by Tall Bugbane plants and seeds.Related IUCN-CMP Threat: #7.3
Roadside maintenance activities pose a threat to at least one known population of tall bugbane on Elk Mountain (#5) and likely other populations on Vedder Mountain (#1 and #2) and Mount Thom (#6).
Pesticide and herbicide use; also use of pesticides and herbicides on lands adjacent to areas containing critical habitat that cause inadvertent pollution, for example by not adhering to best management practices to control drift.Efforts to control invasive plants or agricultural pests through mechanical or chemical means (non-specific herbicides) can result in habitat toxicity and alteration such that it is no longer suitable for Tall Bugbane.Related IUCN-CMP Threat: #9.3
Herbicides used for road maintenance, agriculture, invasive species management, and silviculture are a concern at several sites. Pesticides used on surrounding agricultural areas and land clearing can have a detrimental impact on the availability of pollinators for native species including Tall Bugbane.

2. Statement on action plans

One or more action plans for Tall Bugbane will be posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry by 2022.

3. 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 provincial recovery plan for Tall Bugbane contains a section describing the effects of recovery activities on other species (i.e., Section 9). Environment and Climate Change Canada adopts this section of the provincial recovery plan as the statement on effects of recovery activities on the environment and other species. Recovery planning activities for Tall Bugbane will be implemented with consideration for all co-occurring species at risk, such that there are no negative impacts to these species or their habitats.

4. References

CMP (Conservation Measures Partnership). 2010. Threats Taxonomy.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

These federally protected areas are:  a national park of Canada named and described in Schedule 1 to the Canada National Parks Act, The Rouge National Park established by the Rouge National Urban Park Act, a marine protected area under the Oceans Act, a migratory bird sanctuary under the Migratory Bird Convention Act, 1994 or a national wildlife area under the Canada Wildlife Act see ss. 58(2) of SARA.

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Footnote 2

Critical function zone distance has been defined as the threshold habitat fragment size required for maintaining constituent microhabitat properties for a species (e.g., critical light, moisture, humidity levels necessary for survival). Existing research provides a logical basis for applying a minimum critical function zone distance of 50 m for all rare plant species occurrences (see: Recovery Strategy for the Branched Phacelia (Phacelia ramosissima var. ramosissima) in Canada – 2012).

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Footnote 3

Tall Bugbane has generally been reported from low to mid-elevations 30–950 m, but may occur as high as 1600 m.

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