Wildlife Trees

TreeA wildlife tree is any standing live or dead tree with characteristics that provide valuable habitat for the conservation or enhancement of wildlife. Wildlife Trees play an important role in forest ecosystems by contributing and maintaining biological diversity.

As a veteran tree deteriorates, it can support up to 80 wildlife species, including raptors, woodpeckers, and amphibians. Depending on the tree species and the decay rate, dead trees can provide valuable wildlife habitat hundreds of years.  Loss of this habitat is a concern for many dependant wildlife species. One of the most effective wildlife management practices is to protect habitat surrounding wildlife trees.

What Supports a Wildlife Tree?

Conserving a vegetated buffer area around a wildlife tree shifts emphasis from protecting the single tree to maintaining a broader viable habitat and greater biological diversity.

Wildlife Trees Benefit People

Natural treed areas provide people with an opportunity to access nature. These are places to observe and learn about the natural environment as well as view a diverse array of wildlife species and other living organisms. Natural treed areas provide desirable microclimates and require less landscaping and chemicals than in areas of exotic trees and plants. For these reasons, many people value natural trees on their property.

Pressure on Wildlife Trees

Of particular concern are mature trees and mixed tree stands with documented high levels of wildlife use. Communities on Vancouver Island, in the Lower Mainland, and in the Okanagan are losing important wildlife tree habitat to development (subdivisions and commercial ventures), agricultural clearing, and logging. As communities become more heavily populated and urbanized, wildlife habitat is increasingly shrinking. 

WiTS Activities to Protect Wildlife Trees

Legislation protects some wildlife trees, but not all. Through the WiTS Wildlife Tree Monitoring program, Wildlife Tree Monitors observe, document and report on wildlife trees. Information collected on each identified wildlife tree is placed in the Wildlife Tree Atlas. Information on Section 34 (BC Wildlife Act) nest trees is made available to local government planners to be used in decision-making processes around land development. WiTS works with landowners to establish stewardship agreements to protect wildlife trees on their properties.  WiTS promotes an awareness of the important qualities of wildlife trees through public workshops and presentations to local governments.

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Recommended Reading

"Wildlife & Trees in British Columbia" by Mike Fenger, et al. Edmonton: Lone Pine, 2006.
http://www.wildlifetreebook.com/ External Link