Wildlife, Habitat Management & Biodiversity

Sustainable and responsible forest stewardship is much more than trees: West Fraser’s approach manages for biodiverse and vibrant ecosystems

Within the lands the Company manages, there are a whole range of what we call "forest values" that must be considered such as wildlife, fish, water, visual qualities (like scenery and special places in the forest), wilderness recreation, hunting or trapping and the effects of other industrial uses – just to name a few. Our forestry approach is called ecosystem-based forest management, and it incorporates the restoration and renewal of habitats and protection of sensitive sites, such as fish habitats near forestry roads. It is an environmental management approach that recognizes the full array of interactions within an ecosystem, including humans, rather than considering single issues, species, or ecosystem services in isolation.  

Responsible stewardship is about balancing all the values for natural forest environments and developing comprehensive plans to address them. West Fraser’s natural resource professionals work closely together to conduct environmental assessments and plans to manage for many attributes of a healthy forest.  The Company implements these plans through forestry operations. We monitor and report on our activity and look for ways to continually improve our approach.

Where we manage forestland in Western Canada, our operations are subject to regulation by federal, provincial, and local environmental authorities, including industry-specific environmental regulations relating to reforestation, reclamation, and the protection of endangered species and their habitat. Our forest practices also meet or exceed voluntary, independent and audited certifications.

How West Fraser actively manages for habitats and biodiversity

West Fraser manages many different types of forestry licences in Canada, including volume and area-based tenures. We invest in forest management and silviculture practices to renew and support sustainable, responsible, long-term working forest operations.  Ecological landscape-level plans and biodiversity assessments are used to identify and plan for addressing harvesting approaches that mitigate issues of concern. For example, harvesting scheduled during certain seasonal periods can minimize disturbance and mitigate impacts for the highly diverse soil communities of microbes, bacteria, fungi, plants, bryophytes, etc. in biodiverse systems.

The primary way to achieve this is to maintain forest habitats within the natural range of variation produced by mother nature. An ecosystem-based approach to sustainable harvesting design uses practices intended to approximate landscape-level natural disturbance rates and patterns. That means we aim to harvest and regrow forest cover that supplies natural forest habitats in amounts and patterns similar to what would result from a natural disturbance pattern on the landscape, such as forest fires.

A second major approach is to take additional steps to help recover species at risk. West Fraser has deferred lands to support the habitats of species at risk. We fund and actively support innovative research to support species recovery efforts. When species occur on our landscapes, we address  their needs with tailored management, working with stakeholders and the government to inform our best practices.  Continually improving our forestry practices is a key component of our sustainability. An example of this is a collaboration of foresters and biologists on a research project to learn the effect of changing the order of planning steps to put grizzly bears first. Read more and learn about the results: Harvest Planning: Putting Grizzly Bears First.

We write about West Fraser’s work in our blog, In the Loop, and Stories of Responsibility on our website, and there you will find examples of how we address the protection of caribou and grizzlies around our operating areas.

We are proud to support science-based approaches to improve our forest practices: