President’s Report for 2008 presented by Mike Fenger to the AGM held on March 6  2009


The Annual General Meeting is a good opportunity to reflect on our accomplishments and set some goals for the future. We were extremely fortunate to have Briony Penn

(one of the FER elders) and Krista Roessingh provide the public lecture at this year’s AGM. Krista has also written an article on her Sandhill Crane studies . We were also fortunate this year to have Eva Riccius from the Ministry of Environment attend and participate in our AGM.


What is the purpose of Ecological Reserves?

The Ecological Reserves legislation states that it is to protect examples of representative and unique ecosystems of British Columbia and to have these serve as natural benchmarks,

research areas, educational resources and repositories of genetic materials and geologic features. The Ecological Reserve system – in concert with other elements of British Columbia’s

(see page 3 in this LOG) protected areas system and resource management regime supports protection, study and understanding of ecosystems, their resiliency, ecological processes and natural elements. The Friends of Ecological Reserves is a three-decade old volunteer organization working with the Ministry of  Environment. Our Mission statement is: ”to support the role of Ecological Reserves in furthering understanding of natural processes and human interactions in ecosystems”.

The FER Strategic Plan provides a convenient framework for a year in review and some thoughts for the year ahead.


FER activities March 2008 to March 2009 and possible directions for 2009 – 2010


Goal 1:  To support the protection and management of a strong Ecological Reserve System through a strong warden program, systematic inventory and monitoring, timely assessment of reserves and an effective

               government presence, especially where ERs are most at risk.

  • FER has set as a long term goal to have a volunteer warden for each of the 147 Ecological Reserves. There have been some recent recruitment of wardens by the Ministry of Environment. Volunteers from the Rocky Mountain Naturalists have taken on warden duties for Mount Sabine ER 19, Ram Creek ER 26, Gilnockie ER 104 and they will be working with BC Parks staff Brett Yeats (see Spring 2008 LOG). This is an extremely good way to supplement MOE staff, as there are quite a few volunteers within the Naturalist club and thereby they are more likely to provide numerous site visits and reports to MOE. We hope a club approach is used in other ERs.
  • The Board met with Scott Benton, Brian Bawtinheimer and EvaRiccius of Parks, which led to improvements to the MOE web page on the process for Warden Recruitment (see Winter LOG 2009). We are clearly supporting MOE but not leading. Eva Riccius has been identified as the FER contact person in headquarters. We are very pleased to have someone identified to help coordinate our efforts within the Ministry.
  • FER maintains a data base of Columbia Lake ER 20, ER wardens and members for the purposes of mailing out the LOG. The FER board encourages wardens to provide reports that can be added to FER web pages as well as help build a corporate FER data base. Thank you Malcolm Martin for supplying information on the 1988 survey of Vance Creek ER 30 and also ecosystem maps of the Cougar Canyon ER 108. We know there is a great deal more information in the heads and files of wardens and we strongly encourage them to send this to us (Tom Gillespie our web manager). We will add your data to the FER data base and make this information web available.
  • We rely on MOE for information on warden recruitment and changes in wardens. This means the FER warden list is sometimes not up to date. Improvements are planned.


Goal 1---Possible directions for 2009 - 2010 (Subject to Board discussions)


  • Work more closely with Eva Riccius to ensure there is excellent communication which is critical for coordination of wardens and sharing of information.
  • Information received from wardens is being posted by Tom Gillespie who has taken on the duties of web master. Wardens, please send us your information. In addition to your warden’s reports, we also welcome information from regional offices that would help add to the information already assembled for ecological/biological baselines.


Goal 2: To support the reserves that builds understanding of ecosystem resiliency, ecological processes and natural elements.

  • We provided bridge financing for the Vicky Husband Scholarship which is now set up as a trust.
  • As an NGO, FER provides tax receipts to third parties who support natural areas research.
  • We received one request for research funding. We reviewed the request and since it was not directly related to ERs, declined the request.


Goal 2---Possible directions for 2009 - 2010 (Subject to Board discussions)


  • Consolidate the existing information on specific ERs.
  • Continue to seek funding tosupport research in ERs and to advocate academic institutions and students’ focus on ERs in order to build knowledge.


Goal 3:      To support the development of a resilient and ecological enduring science-based ecological reserve system.

  • A potential new ER within the Spatsizi Park and near Gladys Lake ER has been recommended to the Regional Manager in Skeena and appears one step closer to formation after a three-year process. We featured this proposal in the Autumn 2007 and the Spring 2008 LOG. The area identified is a much-used low elevation mineral lick and is well suited to the ER designation. Support from area residents, guide outfitters and FER means this ER proposal has been recommended and is now with the Parks regional manager.
  • Potential options for a new ER in honour of Bert Brink were pursued. The Ministry of Environment designated 915 hectares of important fish and wildlife habitat located just west of Chilliwack and a further 71 hectares in south Surrey as a wildlife management area named after Bert Brink; also a fitting tribute.


Goal 3---Possible directions for 2009 - 2010 (Subject to Board discussions)


  • FER has relied on the State of ER report and worked to implement recommendations from this report over the last three years. Climate change has become a more significant factor in our understanding and there are questions as to the vulnerability of existing ERs. FER will need to work closely with MOE and other NGOs to assess the vulnerability of Ecological Reserves.
  • An ER vulnerability assessment would ideally include gaps and assessment of ERs that were proposed but not designated while the ER program was in existence.
  • The need for Ecological Reserves that maintain representative ecosystems, is still vitally important. We will continue to press government for representative ecosystems such as those identified in the “Sustainable Forestry Benchmarks for British Columbia”. This FORREX report was supported by the Friends’ Board and was used as the basis for a submission for funds to establish a network of natural research watersheds in BC. This publication shows the current gaps and limitations of the ecological reserve system especially in the interior plateau, and links the need for and for new reserves, to both climate change and mountain pine beetle forest disturbance. The proposal to initiate implementation of recommendations for watershed level monitoring between provincial and federal agencies was unsuccessful.
  • Review and restructure the use of our “Science Advisory committee”.
  • Expect that FER will need to advocate and show support for Marine Protected Areas linked initially to existing ERs.


Goal 4:      To raise awareness of the value of ecological reserves among targeted groups, including: local and provincial elected officials; public servants; neighbours of ecological reserves; and the conservation


  • Being involved with other like-minded organizations on protection and management of natural areas is seen as a real boost to this small organization. Never has the need for strategic long-term thinking over natural areas been greater. This is especially true in light of climate change.


Goal 4---Possible directions for 2009 - 2010 (Subject to Board discussions)


  • Seek partners and funding to establish benchmarks where needed and to begin monitoring of benchmarks within the protected areas system.
  • Continue to participate withother like-minded NGOs such as the Parks Elders Council and CPAWS on areas of mutual benefit.
  • Advocate that MOE finish the Guide to ERs. This has been under internal assessment for over a year.


Goal 5:     To sustain a nurturing and effective organization that supports the maintenance and development of ecological reserves and the concepts underpinning them.

  • Field trips, open to the public and helpful to recruit new members, were made to Trial Island and Race Rocks. Thanks to Garry Fletcher, Marilyn Lambert and Mary Rannie for being the main organizers of these events.
  •  Marilyn Lambert, Stephen Ruttan, and Mike Fenger spent a day with Paul Linton on Mount Maxwell and got better insight on management of this ER. See page 9 in Spring-09 Log.


Goal 5---Possible directions for 2009 - 2010 (Subject to Board discussions)


  • Our major funders for research have indicated they are no longer able to support their selected projects. This leaves a very limited scope supporting ER research.
  • We will look at ways to expand membership to ensure long term viability and cover operating costs.