British Columbia is a place of breathtaking natural beauty, from the Rocky Mountains and interior plateaus to the towering coastal rainforests and stormy Pacific shores. This spectacular terrain is home to the greatest diversity of wildlife species in any province or territory in Canada. These include iconic species like grizzly bears, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and mountain caribou as well as rare plants and animals that are found nowhere else on the planet. B.C. also contains most of the global range of 99 wildlife species, and supports 22 types of big game animals and many intact large mammal predator-prey systems.

Sixteen distinct large ecosystems (known as biogeoclimatic zones) occur in B.C.: 12 major forest ecosystems, a grassland ecosystem, and three kinds of alpine ecosystems. Each ecosystem includes a diversity of habitats that support various life stages for many wildlife species.

B.C.’s diversity of wildlife provides abundant environmental, cultural, social and economic benefits to all British Columbians. Wildlife is especially important to Indigenous peoples for food and for cultural, social and ceremonial purposes. Wildlife populations also support activities such as hunting and guide outfitting, angling, trapping, wildlife viewing, photography, research and field study. Wildlife also has an inherent and intrinsic value to most people.

Wildlife-related activities generate considerable revenue for B.C. The province’s habitats and ecosystems provide numerous ecological goods and services associated with native plant and animal species such as photosynthesis, production of soil, clean air and water, flood control, moderation of climate and greenhouse gases, and cycling of energy and nutrients.

In recent decades, the loss, fragmentation and alteration of wildlife habitats due to human population growth, expanded economic development, climate change, extensive mountain pine beetle outbreaks and catastrophic wildfires[1] have placed increasing pressures on certain wildlife populations, some of which are now in decline.

These challenges, along with the need for true and lasting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, changing societal expectations, declining wildlife populations in some areas, and the increased involvement and engagement of conservation groups, stakeholders and the general public in wildlife management and habitat conservation, have prompted the provincial government to review the way it manages wildlife and habitat. The provincial government, Indigenous peoples, communities, industries, and all British Columbians share responsibility for sustaining our natural endowment for future generations.

Multiple provincial government statutes govern the management of wildlife and wildlife habitat to ensure that benefits and impacts of resource development are balanced. These include, the Wildlife Act, Forest and Range Practices Act, Land Act, Oil and Gas Activities Act, and the Environmental Assessment Act. Other management activities such as inventory and monitoring help inform how practices should be modified or adapted to better achieve objectives. Government-to-government strategic land management agreements with Indigenous peoples help ensure management at the landscape level account for Indigenous peoples’ interests. All of these tools are supported by policies and procedures.

Over the past decade, the provincial government has taken progressive steps toward an integrated approach to land and resource management. Today there are several related initiatives underway in the province that are aimed at strengthening our system of land and resource management to ensure better social, cultural, economic and environmental outcomes for British Columbians for generations to come. Some of these include the modernization of land-use planning, caribou recovery planning, environmental assessment revitalization, professional reliance review, and reinvestments in provincial parks and the Conservation Officer Service.

[1] It should be noted wildfire can have positive benefits for some wildlife species.

[2] Because the federal government is responsible for managing tidal fish, such as salmon, and marine mammals and migratory birds, this document does not address those species in any detail, nor does it address the management of species at risk or non-tidal fish.