Leanna Warman

The Nature Trust of British Columbia
Since 1971, The Nature Trust of British Columbia (NTBC) has dedicated effort to securing and managing ecologically significant land in BC. NTBC is continually made aware of potential properties that could be acquired for conservation. Having the ability to assess the relative ecological value of a property aids in determining whether or not to pursue. NTBC is using a GIS tool to facilitate strategic and efficient decision-making for conservation, which is based on available province wide spatial data layers (e.g., Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification, Conservation Data Centre, Biodiversity BC maps). Through the use of this tool, we have realized that the ecological importance of riparian and wetland ecosystems is deficient. Since it is becoming more apparent that wetlands and riparian areas are essential in climate change adaptation strategies, a province wide layer that could aid in identifying the ecological value of these ecosystems would help focus limited conservation funds on properties that are most likely to contribute positively to persistence of ecologically significant species and communities. We are in the process of developing a spatial layer that provides an ecological value of wetlands and riparian areas based on factors such as geography, hydrology, fish spawning, and bird abundance. As this layer is a work in progress, we would like to share our methodology and gain insight to factors that could be considered for evaluating ecological value of riparian and wetlands using data available at a provincial scale. Once complete, this layer will be available for use by other organizations in BC.