Environmentally Sensitive Areas
Environmentally sensitive areas are areas of land or land and water containing vegetation, terrain or fish and wildlife habitat which may be sensitive to development. Environmentally sensitive areas are an important consideration during land development and/or construction activities. The Strathcona Regional District and Ministry of Environment should be consulted prior to any land development to comply with existing legislation and to ensure sensitive ecosystems and inventories are protected.
Eagles and Herons
Due to declining population numbers and habitat loss, eagles and herons are in need of protection and significant conservation efforts in order to improve long-term population viability. Eagle nesting habitat is rapidly being lost as land is cleared for development. Similarly, most heron colonies are extremely sensitive to human disturbance, particularly early in the breeding cycle. Additionally, they generally lack the protection of buffer trees around the colony, making them vulnerable to predators (e.g. eagles preying on heron chicks). The habitats for both species must be protected if breeding populations are to be maintained.
Streams and the Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR)
Riparian areas link water to land. They border streams, lakes, and wetlands. The blend of streambed, water, trees, shrubs and grasses in a riparian area provides fish habitat and directly influences it.
Protecting riparian areas, while facilitating urban development that embraces high standards of environmental stewardship, is a priority for the Government of British Columbia. Good quality streamside habitat is essential for ensuring healthy fish populations.
The Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR) was enacted under Section 12 of the Fish Protection Act in July 2004. It calls on local governments to protect riparian areas during residential, commercial, and industrial development by ensuring that a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) conducts a science-based assessment of proposed activities.
The purpose of the Regulation is to protect the many and varied features, functions and conditions that are vital for maintaining aquatic health and productivity, including:
- Sources of large organic debris, such as fallen trees and tree roots;
- Areas for stream channel migration;
- Vegetative cover to help moderate water temperature;
- Provision of food, nutrients and organic matter to the stream;
- Stream bank stabilization; and
- Buffers for streams from excessive silt and surface runoff pollution.