Wildlife Tree Stewardship (WiTS) is an environmental stewardship program of BC Nature (The Federation of BC Naturalists). Our goal is the protection of Wildlife Trees - trees that provide habitat for nesting birds and other animals. We facilitate the transfer of nest and tree information, collected by Volunteer Tree Stewards, and make it available for land-use planning by both the Public and by Government.
The WiTS program began in 2001, and was built on the results of many years of data collected by Naturalists and by Biologists working for either Government or the forest industry. The initial emphasis was on nest sites for Bald Eagles and Great Blue Herons, where sites had been catalogued over most of Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and the Lower Fraser Valley. The WiTS program was first set up on Vancouver Island as collaboration between the Ministry of Environment, the Canadian Wildlife Service and BC Hydro. The program since has expanded to include the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan. Species inventories have increased in scope to include, hawks, owls, and woodpeckers.
Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, and the Okanagan contain some of the most altered ecosystems in British Columbia. Within these regions, agriculture, forestry, and urbanization are placing many wildlife species at risk. At the same time, we constantly hear that the ability to see wildlife is one of the main reasons people choose to live in, or to visit, British Columbia. The WiTS program is committed to protecting wildlife trees and the species that depend on them, by providing information on known sites to those that plan and make decisions on land development.
The WiTS program has co-ordinators in different geographic areas of British Columbia.
Our steering committee is made up of representatives from:
- the Federal Government - Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS);
- the BC Provincial Government – Ministry of Environment (MOE); and
- BC Nature .
We have about 200 volunteer wildlife tree stewards monitoring trees in over 20 communities around BC. While the majority of the stewards are members of a Naturalist Club, many are landowners with wildlife trees, and others are interested observers.
A number of valued organizations assist us with our programs.