Reseach in Ecological Reserves

Posted October 3, 2009 | Categories : Park use Permits,Reports,Research,Restoration |

Research in Ecological Reserves By Nathalie Dechaine


The Ecological Reserves Act, and the corresponding regulations are very clear; permits in Ecological Reserves (ERs) may only be issued for scientific research and educational pur- poses and those activities may only take place when authorized by a permit. In other words if you want to conduct any kind of ecological research activities in an ER, you need a permit. However, not all proposed research activities in an ER would necessarily be authorized. The proposed research activities must clearly be relevant to one of the five purposes for which ERs are established (see Section 2 of the Ecological reserves Act)

a) areas suitable for scientific research and educational purposes associated with studies in productivity and other aspects of the natural environment;
b) areas that are representative examples of natural ecosystems in British Columbia;
c) areas that serve as examples of ecosystems that have been modified by human beings
and offer an opportunity to study the recovery of the natural ecosystem from modification;
d) areas where rare or endangered native plants and animals in their natural habitat may be preserved; and
e) areas that contain unique and rare examples of botanical, zoological or geological phenomena.
Applying for an ER Permit
So how does one go about getting an Ecological Reserve permit for research? The first step is to apply in writing. The Permit and Authorization Service Bureau (PASB) can be contacted by using the toll-free number or PASB (1- 866-433-7272, extension #3) or an application form can be directly accessed via their website: There is no application fee or any other permit fees charged for ecological research in parks and protected areas as research is deemed to be a public good.
Application Review Process
The proposed activities are then assessed by regional staff to ensure that they are consistent with the purpose for which the ER was established. Then, BC Parks staff conducts an impact assessment using the established process to determine if there are any social, cultural or ecological impacts associated with the proposed research activities. If the activities are deemed suitable, BC Parks staff then consults with First Nations and/or other stakeholders. In some cases, this may involve coordinating with other jurisdictions or with other regions, particularly when the proposed research activities take place over a larger geographic scale. Once a complete application is received, BC Parks strives to process, adjudicate, and issue an Ecological Reserve permit in 60 business days.
Active Research in Ecological Reserves
Currently, there are approximately 15 research projects occurring in Ecological Reserves
 across the province of British Columbia that range from a few weeks to a few years in length. Most of the research in ERs involves inventory and monitoring activities and is conducted by academic institutions or governmental agencies.
After the Research

One of the benefits of support- ing research activities in parks and protected areas is that the Ministry of Environment receives a copy of all research results. Within six months of completing research authorized by an Ecological Research permit, Section 10 of the Ecological Reserves regulations requires the permittee to submit a report to BC Parks. This report must include (if applicable) the following:

  • the methodology used,
  • any inventories taken,
  • a description of the land forms and soil conditions in the research area
  • and the results, conclusions and/or recommendations stemming from the research activities.
BC Parks keeps all research reports on file in each of the regional offices.
 Nathalie Dechaine is a Permit Analyst with BC Parks
nathalie.dechaine use the @ sign
Ed comment: As MOE benefits from the free science information that researchers bring, FER feels that the current permitting process needs to be reviewed and significantly improved in order to provide better service to the research community. If MOE and FER are to attract researchers and their funding, the current process is too protracted, in our opinion. FER wishes to work with MOE to seriously expedite its permit process. By comparison Ministry of Forests & Range staff must process small scale salvage permits and approve or deny a permit request within two days of receiving a request.