The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is proposing an amendment to the Forest Management Guide for Conserving Biodiversity at the Stand and Site Scales (Stand and Site Guide) related to the protection of American ginseng and Blanding’s turtle during forest management operations. Forest management guides contain the mandatory standards and guidelines, as well as suggested best management practices, used by MNRF and the forest industry when preparing and implementing forest management plans.
During the implementation of the guide, issues have been identified around the feasibility of following some of the required direction to protect Blanding’s turtles and American ginseng. This has led to challenges for the forest industry to meet the intent of the guide (biodiversity conservation) from social, economic, and environmental perspectives.
If approved, the changes to the Stand and Site Guide being proposed will continue to provide direction for the protection of large patches of American ginseng (Table 4.3a, pages 105-106) and Blanding’s turtle (Table 4.3e, pages 117-119). The existing direction for small patches of American ginseng in Table 4.3a and for other turtles in Table 4.3e (including spotted turtle) will remain unchanged. The proposed changes are:
American ginseng (large patches):
- require that ruts and significant areas of exposed mineral soil be remediated in a timely manner
- allow re-use of old operational roads and landings within 21-120 m of the ginseng patch, subject to MNRF conditions
- increase area where modified operations occur from 1 km to 2 km surrounding turtle observations
- allow harvest, renewal, and tending operations within 30 m of suitable aquatic habitat from October 1 – April 30, subject to restrictions on site disturbance
- allow harvest, renewal, and tending operations within 31-150 m of suitable aquatic habitat from July 15 – August 31
- allow construction of new landings and reuse of existing landings except within 30 m of known or suspected nesting sites
- allow road construction and aggregate extraction within 150 m of suitable aquatic habitat from July 15 – August 31, except within 30 m of known or suspected nesting sites
- allow hauling within 150 m of suitable aquatic habitat from July 15 - August 31, subject to MNRF conditions
- allow re-use of old roads within 31-150 m of suitable aquatic habitat, subject to MNRF conditions
- allow maintenance of roads within 150 m of suitable aquatic habitat from June 1 – September 30 if identified by MNRF as unlikely to be used for nesting
- implement strategies to reduce road-based threats within 1-2 km of turtle observations
The amended direction will apply to Crown forests in the entire area of the undertaking (i.e., that part of the province where forest management occurs).