Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna): amended recovery strategy 2018
Official title: Amended Recovery Strategy for the Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna) in Canada 2018
Species at Risk Act
Recovery strategy series
Adopted under section 44 of SARA
Recommended citation: Environment and Climate Change Canada. 2018. Amended Recovery Strategy for the Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ottawa. 2 parts, v + 14 pp. + 16 pp.
For copies of the recovery strategy, or for additional information on species at risk, including Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) Status Reports, residence descriptions, action plans, and other related recovery documents, please visit the Species at Risk (SAR) Public Registry.
Cover illustration: Barrens Willow © Peter Thomas, Environment and Climate Change Canada
Également disponible en français sous le titre « Programme de rétablissement modifié du saule des landes (Salix jejuna) au Canada »
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, 2018. All rights reserved.
Catalogue no. En3-4/215-2018E-PDF
Content (excluding the illustrations) may be used without permission, with appropriate credit to the source.
The Recovery Strategy for the Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna) in Canada (Environment Canada 2006) was originally posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry in October 2006.
Under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996), the federal, provincial, and territorial governments agreed to work together on legislation, programs, and policies to protect wildlife species at risk throughout Canada.
In 2006, in the spirit of cooperation of the Accord, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador gave permission to the Government of Canada to adopt the Recovery Strategy for Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna Fernald) in Canada (Part 1) under Section 44 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). At the time, Environment Canada included an addendum as a federal addition which completed the SARA requirements for this recovery strategy.
Under Section 45 of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), the competent Minister may amend a recovery strategy at any time. In this recovery strategy, only the federal addition (previously addendum) has been amended. Nevertheless, this amended recovery strategy replaces the Recovery Strategy for the Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna) in Canada published in October 2006.
This Amended Recovery Strategy for the Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna) in Canada (hereafter, ‘amended recovery strategy’) is for the purposes of:
- updating critical habitat information
- adding a description of activities likely to result in the destruction of critical habitat
- adding a statement on action plans
The amended federal recovery strategy for the Barrens Willow in Canada consists of two parts:
Part 1 : Recovery Strategy for Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna Fernald) in Canada, prepared by Nathalie Djan-Chékar on behalf of the Braya Recovery Team for the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. (2003)
Part 2 : Amended Federal Addition (Addendum) for the Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna) in Canada, prepared by Environment and Climate Change Canada. (2018)
Part 1 : Recovery Strategy for Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna Fernald) in Canada, prepared by Nathalie Djan Chékar on behalf of the Braya Recovery Team for the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. (2003 )
Prepared By: Nathalie Djan-Chékar and the Braya Recovery Team, for the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
October 31, 2003
Lead jurisdiction/other jurisdictions/key contacts
Lead: Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Inland Fish and Wildlife Division, Endangered Species and Biodiversity Section
Other: Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Recovery team members, working group members, and associated specialists
Braya recovery peam:
Luise Hermanutz, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Co-Chair)
Nathalie Djan-Chékar, Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation (Co-Chair)
Douglas Ballam, Consultant
Trevor Bell, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Joe Brazil, Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation
Henry Mann, Memorial University of Newfoundland
John Maunder, Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation
Susan J. Meades, Consultant
Wilf Nicholls, Memorial University of Newfoundland Botanical Garden
Leah Soper, Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Forestry Resources and Agrifoods
Gerry Yetman, Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation
Working groups and associated specialists:
George Argus, Scientific Expert
Michael Burzynski, Parks Canada
Peggy Dixon, Agriculture and Agrifoods Canada
Eddy Donato, Student
Janelle Hancock, Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation
Dulcie House, Limestone Barren Habitat Stewardship Program
Anne Marceau, Parks Canada
Kim Parsons, Student
Fyzee Shuhood, Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation
Millie Spence, Parks Canada
Susan Tilley, Student
The Braya Recovery Team acknowledges the expert advice of Dr. George Argus in the elaboration and review of this strategy. Thanks also to Ms. Mary Rothfels, scientific advisor with the Species at Risk Branch of the Canadian Wildlife Service, for her review of the document.
This document was prepared to define the recovery strategies deemed necessary to protect and recover the Barrens Willow. It does not necessarily represent the official positions or views of each and every governmental or non-governmental organization or individual involved. The realization of the goals, objectives and actions identified in this document ultimately depend upon the ongoing program priorities and budgetary constraints of the participating departments and organizations. The goals and objectives may change over time in light of new findings.
Djan-Chékar, N., L. Hermanutz, D. Ballam, T. Bell, J. Brazil, H. Mann, J. Maunder, S.J. Meades, W. Nicholls, L. Soper, and G. Yetman. 2003. Recovery Strategy for the Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna Fernald ). Inland Fish and Wildlife Division, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Corner Brook. v + 11 pp.
The Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna Fernald) is endemic to the limestone barrens of the Strait of Belle Isle on the northwestern part of the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. It is threatened by habitat loss and degradation, from land use activities. It was assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) in 2001 as an endangered species, and listed as such under the Newfoundland and Labrador Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act in 2002 and 2003, respectively. The recovery goal for this species is to secure the long term persistence of the natural population throughout its range. Achievement of this goal is primarily dependent upon the removal or mitigation of anthropogenic threats.
This strategy document outlines five recovery objectives for the Barrens Willow: 1) to assess and monitor the status of the natural population; 2) to assess range and population dynamics of the natural population; 3) to define threats and limiting factors and mitigate controllable ones; 4) lessen to the extent possible additional habitat loss and degradation due to human activities; 5) to implement a stewardship program with local residents and targeted groups. Highest priority actions are surveys, monitoring and critical habitat protection. Some of these actions, as well as others, such as habitat stewardship, are already underway.
Part I: background
1 Species information
Common Name: Barrens Willow
Scientific Name: Salix jejuna Fernald
Assessment Summary: COSEWIC, May 2001 (New)
Reason for Designation: Highly localized limestone barrens endemic occurring at only
a few sites and subject to habitat loss and degradation from land
Occurrence: NL (Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland)
Status History: Assessed as Endangered by COSEWIC in May 2001 based on a new status report (Anions 2000).
Listed as Endangered under the Newfoundland and Labrador Endangered Species Act in July 2002 and the federal Species at Risk Act in June 2003.
The Barrens Willow is endemic to the Strait of Belle Isle on the northwestern part of the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. Its distribution spans approximately 30 km of coast from Watts Point to Cape Norman (Fig. 1). It is still present at all known historic locations. Although there are few data available, extent of distribution has probably been stable since the species was first discovered by Wiegand and Long in 1925.
Figure 1 illustrates the range of the Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna Fernald) in Newfoundland. The shade area goes along the Strait of Belle Isle on the northwestern part of the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland. Its distribution spans approximately 30 km of coast from Watts Point to Cape Norman.
3 Population size and trend
Anions (2000) reported less than 50 known individuals. Fieldwork conducted since indicates that the population is much larger: probably totaling more than 10,000 individuals. Available data are not sufficient to determine trends in population size.
The laying of roads through the habitat of the Barrens Willow, particularly in the latter half of the 20th century, may have adversely affected the population. Quarrying, mainly for road construction and maintenance, is another factor that possibly has had an adverse effect. On the other hand, the Barrens Willow is a pioneer species and now seems to thrive along disturbed roadsides throughout its range. It is possible that road building and maintenance might have had a neutral or positive effect in some areas. Since the 1980s, when the Northern Peninsula Highway was built, there appears to have been only a few, localized disturbances within the range of the species.
4 Biological limiting factors
Habitat specificity is an important component of extinction risk (Rabinowitz 1981, as reported in Keith 1998). The Barrens Willow is endemic to a narrow band of coastal limestone barrens characterized primarily by arctic-like climatic conditions. Such harsh weather conditions, and natural processes like frost heave and abrasion by wind, typically limit plant growth. On the other hand, in more sheltered or shaded areas, competition from other plant species may limit the Barrens Willow’s survival. It is unknown whether, or how, climate change might impact the amount of habitat available. Ultimately, population size and distribution are bound by the restrictive nature of the species’ habitat.
Willow species generally hybridize readily. All willows, including hybrids, are vigorous pioneers that colonize disturbed habitats. In such habitats, hybrids can compete as well as pure individuals but they often display reduced viability and may die within a few years, or they may be infertile and survive only as vegetative plants (Argus 2003).
Herbivorous insects and pathogens have been observed and collected on the Barrens Willow. Their identities and impact on the willow population are unknown at this point.
According to Anions (2000), the main threat to this species has been loss of habitat. Further quarrying and/or road construction within the range of the species would constitute a significant threat (Argus 2003). Other known threats include habitat degradation associated with vehicular traffic, trails, and the maintenance of roads and infrastructure (Anions 2000). Off- trail vehicle use has been observed repeatedly by field biologists during recent years. Other potential threats include garbage dumping and net drying which have been observed in nearby areas. Anions (2000) also considered moose browsing and invasive plants to be potential threats. However, the risk posed by these threats is probably largely insignificant, as dwarf willows do not provide the kind of browse preferred by moose, and currently few introduced weeds are well adapted to the specific limestone barren habitat where the Barrens Willow occurs (Argus 2003).
6 Habitat requirements
Currently, the Barrens Willow occupies exposed coastal limestone barren habitat where vegetation cover is sparse. It is found in dry to periodically wet conditions. The substrate is generally silt and/or sand accumulated in depressions and openings between rocks, or open silt, sand and gravel, sometimes sorted by frost. Given the small population size and restricted distribution of the Barrens Willow, all natural areas of occurrences are considered critical habitat, in other words habitat that is critical to the survival of the species.
7 Ecological role
The Barrens Willow is one of three, known, endemic plant species occurring in the coastal limestone barren of the Great Northern Peninsula. The other endemic species are Long’s Braya (Braya longii Fernald, Endangered) and Fernald’s Braya (Braya fernaldii Abbe, Threatened). All three occupy sites where the vegetation cover is usually sparse due to regular disturbance by frost and wind. They are edge species, adapted to a marginal habitat. Many other vascular plant species that are rare in Newfoundland share this niche, disjuncts of arctic-alpine affinity found here at the southern limit of their range (e.g. Bartsia alpina L., Pedicularis flammea L., Potentilla pulchella R. Br. ex Ross). The presence of these species makes the Strait of Belle Ecoregion the richest in Newfoundland in terms of rare and exclusive vascular plants (Bouchard et al. 1991).
The Barrens Willow appears to be morphologically closest to Salix ovalifolia Trautv. and S. stolonifera Cov. (Argus 1997). These species are found in northwestern America, ranging from the Bering Sea and the arctic coast of Alaska and Yukon, south in the cordillera to a few isolated populations in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia and Alberta. The evolutionary relationship between these species suggests that the Barrens Willow in Newfoundland is probably of refugial origin (Argus 2003). This hypothesis correlates with the presence of a significant number of species of arctic-alpine affinity within the same ecosystem.
Finally, the Barrens Willow is one of the dominant species at some sites. It probably plays a significant role as food source or shelter to a number of invertebrate species. It is also a pioneer species colonizing a habitat characterized by disturbance. Its presence could contribute to the establishment and survival of other plant species.
8 Importance to people
Botanists and natural history enthusiasts have long been attracted to the limestone barrens of the Great Northern Peninsula. One of the main points of interest is the unique limestone barrens flora. Endemic species like the Barrens Willow are an important component of this flora, and so contribute to the ecotourism potential of the area.
Residents of the Great Northern Peninsula have generally been supportive of and interested in plant conservation efforts within the region. For example, residents of Raleigh were instrumental the creation of a Provincial Botanical Ecological Reserve at Burnt Cape. They are now involved in the management of the reserve and development of activities around it. The Habitat Stewardship Program for the coastal limestone barrens of the Great Northern Peninsula, which is part of the recovery efforts for Long’s and Fernald’s Braya (Hermanutz et al. 2002), is another example. To date, the program has been very successful. Surveys of local residents have shown a strong interest in protecting the species at risk and their habitat. Three stewardship agreements have been signed in the area in 2002, including the first agreement with an elementary school in Canada.
Because of its unique features, the limestone barrens have also been, and continue to be, the subject of many scientific studies in the field of botany, zoology, ecology, and geology. Cape Norman, the type locality of the Barrens Willow, is of particular importance to science. The species itself, and its evolutionary relationships which suggest a refugial origin (see section 7 above), has the potential to provide interesting insight into the history of northern floras.
9 Knowledge gaps
Additional information is required on population size and distribution, life history, population genetics, habitat, threats and limiting factors.
9.1 Survey requirements
Surveys to determine occurrence and population size need to be completed, in suitable habitat, within the known range of the species. Adjacent areas where similar habitat may also occur, notably Belle Isle, the southern Labrador coast, and Burnt Cape, should also be surveyed for occurrence of the species.
9.2 Biological/ecological research requirements
Further information is required on species recognition, life history parameters (longevity, reproduction, growth), population genetics, and detailed habitat requirements. This information, along with information on threats and limiting factors, is necessary to carry out a population viability analysis, and important for refining the definition of critical habitat and for supporting ex-situ conservation efforts. Although not critical to recovery, a comparative genetic study could provide insights into the evolutionary relationships of the Barrens Willow and origin.
9.3 Threat clarification research requirements
Natural and human-induced threats to the habitat are identified in the status report (Anions 2000). The importance of each of these threats and their prevalence on the landscape needs to be assessed. Pests and pathogens have been observed on the Barrens Willow. These still need to be identified and their potential impact assessed. The species may be sensitive to climate change, since its restricted habitat is apparently dependent upon narrow climatic parameters operating within a narrow coastal zone. Long term climatic data may be useful in determining trends. Surveys and research may identify other threats and limiting factors.
Part II: recovery
10 Recovery goal
The fact that the Barrens Willow is naturally restricted to a relatively rare habitat affects the scope of recovery. Increased risk of extinction is inherent to high habitat specificity in space and time (Keith 1998). This species will always remain rare with a relatively small population and very restricted distribution. Recovery in this case is dependent upon the removal or mitigation of anthropogenic threats. Notwithstanding natural limiting factors that might have a significant impact on the population, threat abatement should result in the long-term survival of the species; natural population size and distribution should remain stable. The recovery goal for the Barrens Willow is therefore to secure the long term persistence of the natural population throughout its range.
11 Recovery objectives
Recovery actions undertaken over the next five years should address the following five objectives towards the achievement of long-term recovery goals:
- assess and monitor the status of the natural population
- assess range and population dynamics of the natural population
- define threats and limiting factors and mitigate controllable
- lessen to the extent possible additional habitat loss and degradation due to
- implement a stewardship program with local residents and targeted groups
12 Approaches to meet recovery objectives
|Priority||Objectives||Actions||Specific steps||Key performance indicators|
|Urgent||I, II, III and IV||Biological surveys||
|Urgent||I, II, III and IV||Habitat protection||
|Urgent||I and II||Monitoring||
|Necessary||I and II||Demographic research||
|Necessary||I and III||Taxonomic research||
|Necessary||I, II, III, IV
|Necessary||IV and V||Public outreach||
|Necessary||I, II and III||Compliance to regulations||
|Beneficial||III, IV and V||Restoration||
13 Ecological and technical feasibility of species recovery
As discussed above, the Barrens Willow will always remain rare and its survival is dependent upon the removal or mitigation of anthropogenic threats. Commercial exploitation and other development of the limestone barrens can be limited through internal cooperation among governmental agencies responsible for resource management. On the other hand, global warming, which may prove to be a significant anthropogenic threat, would be very difficult to address at a regional scale. It is beyond the scope of this recovery strategy.
Highest priority actions for recovery of this species consist of surveys, monitoring and habitat protection. Other important steps include demographic, taxonomic and ecological research, public outreach and compliance to regulations. Surveys, ecological research and habitat protection for the limestone barrens are already under way as part of recovery efforts for Long’s and Fernald’s Braya (Hermanutz et al. 2002). The same is true for public outreach, under the auspices of the Limestone Barrens Habitat Stewardship Program.
In order to clarify our understanding of threats and limiting factors, to complete surveys, and to set up monitoring sites, a large initial investment of time and resources will be needed. Efforts in terms of research, monitoring and compliance to regulations, and involvement with local communities will be long-term. Because the area where the species occurs is far from major centres, any work in the area and contact with local communities involves significant investments in terms of travel time and communication costs.
The ex-situ collection will provide an alternate source of material for research and possibly reduce costs as well as the need for destructive sampling of the wild population. This collection will also serve as a backup to conservation in the wild.
14 Potential impacts of recovery strategy on other species/ecological processes
The Barrens Willow is restricted to a rare habitat type, and lives within a unique biological community. Protection of this habitat will ensure protection of many of the other rare species and ecological processes characteristic of this unique ecosystem. Rare species found within the range of the Barrens Willow include the threatened Fernald’s Braya. Restoration aimed at improving the esthetic value of the landscape will increase its stewardship value and in the long-term possibly provide renewed natural habitat for limestone barren species.
15 Anticipated conflicts or challenges
The general area where this species occurs has been, and will likely continue to be, exploited as a source of limestone gravel for road building and maintenance. Management of local quarry operations is starting to take into account the presence of rare plants. However, conservation efforts should continue; and appropriate tools to inform managers of the occurrence of potential habitat should be developed and communications improved.
Part of the species’ range (Cape Norman) has been identified as the most important dolomite deposit on the west coast of Newfoundland. At this point in time, interest in this mineral resource, by the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Mines and Energy, is only at the exploratory stage. No claim has been established.
Maintenance of roads and infrastructure within the range of the species could directly threaten portions of the population and conflict with recovery efforts. Mitigation measures may need to be developed.
Finally, there are economic challenges in the area which have the potential to create additional development pressure on the species and its habitat. These challenges have recently been aggravated by the collapse of the local fishery.
16 Actions completed or underway
This recovery strategy will be implemented as part of a multi-species recovery effort centered on the coastal limestone barren habitats of the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland (Hermanutz et al. 2002). Several actions are already underway, including a habitat stewardship program, ecological research into the physical factors and processes characterizing limestone barren habitats, surveys of potential habitat, and the development of an ex-situ collection of live specimens. Actions completed include the creation of an Ecological Reserve for the protection of rare plants in the southern portion of the species range (Watt’s Point). Potential habitat has been mapped. Finally, known areas of occurrence have been identified on the provincial Crown Lands Atlas as Sensitive Wildlife Areas, to ensure the referral of all development proposals for these areas to the Inland Fish and Wildlife Division for review.
See key performance indicators in Section 12. As well, an action plan detailing the approaches to meet recovery objectives will be prepared within a year of the release of this plan.
Anions, M.F.E. 2000. COSEWIC Status Report on Barrens Willow, Salix jejuna. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. 24 pp. (Unpublished report)
Argus, G.W. 1997. Infrageneric classification of Salix L. in the New World. Systematic Botany Monographs. 52: 1-121.
Argus, G.W. 2003. Personal communication to Nathalie Djan-Chékar.
Bouchard, A, S. Hay, L. Brouillet, M. Jean and I. Saucier. 1991. The rare vascular plants of the Island of Newfoundland. Syllogeus No. 65. Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa.
Hermanutz, L., H. Mann, M.F.E. Anions, D. Ballam, T. Bell, J. Brazil, N. Djan-Chékar, G. Gibbons, J. Maunder, S.J. Meades, N. Smith and G. Yetman. 2002. National Recovery Plan for Long’s Braya (Braya longii Fernald) and Fernald’s Braya (Braya fernaldii Abbe). National Recovery Plan No. 23. Recovery of Nationally Endangered Wildlife (RENEW). Ottawa, Ontario. 33 pp.
Keith, D. A. 1998. An evaluation and modification of World Conservation Union Red List criteria for classification of extinction risk in vascular plants. Conservation Biology 12(5): 1076-1090.
Rabinowitz, D. 1981. Seven forms of rarity. Pages 205-217 in H. Synge, editor. The biological aspects of rare plant conservation. John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, United Kingdom.
Annex 1: procedure for determining critical habitat for Barrens Willow
Compiled by Braya Recovery Team, May 25, 2005.
- Mandated under Section 28, Endangered Species Act (SNL2001 Chapter E - 10.0)
- Data used to prepare these maps are based on records from the "Rare plant database" housed within the IFWD and observational records from Recovery Team members and scientists, for a total of over 27,000 observational records that have been geospatially referenced, with 1 in 5 verified.
- Maps for all species include both historical and recent records, except for those historical records from which locations cannot be verified. These records have a Locational Accuracy Level of 2 and 1, respectively (Level 1=10m and Level 2=100m).
- Potential habitat within the Limestone Barrens for each species was delineated from aerial photographs. [Limestone barrens are defined as limestone areas with vegetation cover less than 10 cm in height over thin discontinuous sediment showing signs of frost action (for example, frost boils or sorted circles)].
- Once potential habitats were field checked, they were designated as either suitable habitat or unsuitable habit. Suitable habitats were further surveyed for species presence. If the habitat has the species present, it is automatically designated as Critical Habitat.
- Those potential habitat areas that remain to be field-checked retain their original designation. Future site surveys will follow the above protocol. See Appendix 1 for flow diagram.
- Critical habitat was delineated separately for each species, based on their endangerment and biology.
- The spatial extent of each habitat type was mapped using a central point and a maximum radius to inscribe a circle that encompassed the entire habitat. Parts of the circle that clearly are not suitable habitat (e.g. water bodies, forest and other land cover types that appear as mapped layers within our GIS database) were deleted.
Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna)
Barrens Willow has an intermediate distribution compared with the two braya species, from Eddies Cove South to Cape Norman, approx. 40 km. In contrast to braya, it does not have a long-lived seedbank, therefore it can be assumed that if there are no plants currently growing at a site that it is unlikely that they will in the near future. Therefore suitable substrates with no plants present have been designated as "Sensitive Wildlife Areas".
- all suitable habitats with willow present have been designated as "Critical habitat"
- all sites with suitable habitats that are not presently occupied, as well as those sites of potential suitability have been designated as "Sensitive Wildlife Areas"
Flow diagram of designation of habitat types
Illustrates a flow diagram to explain part of the procedure for determining Critical Habitat for Barrens Willow. Aerial photographs were used to determine potential habitat within the Limestone Barrens for each species. After potential habitats were field checked, they were designated as either suitable habitat or unsuitable habit. Suitable habitats were further surveyed for species presence. If the habitat has the species present, it is automatically designated as Critical Habitat. Those potential habitat areas that remain to be field-checked retain their original designation.
Part 2 : Amended Federal Addition (Addendum) to the Recovery Strategy for Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna Fernald) in Canada, prepared by Environment and Climate Change Canada
The federal, provincial, and territorial government signatories under the Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk (1996) agreed to establish complementary legislation and programs that provide for effective protection of species at risk throughout Canada. Under the Species at Risk Act (S.C. 2002, c.29) (SARA), the federal competent ministers are responsible for the preparation of recovery strategies for listed Extirpated, Endangered, and Threatened species and are required to report on progress within five years after the publication of the final document on the SAR Public Registry.
The Minister of Environment and Climate Change is the competent minister under SARA for the Barrens Willow and has prepared the federal component of this amended recovery strategy (Part 2), as per section 37 of SARA. To the extent possible, it has been prepared in cooperation with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, as per section 39(1) of SARA. SARA section 44 allows the Minister to adopt all or part of an existing plan for the species if it meets the requirements under SARA for content (sub-sections 41(1) or (2)). The Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador led the development of the attached recovery strategy for the Barrens Willow (Part 1) in cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Success in the recovery of this species depends on the commitment and cooperation of many different constituencies that will be involved in implementing the directions set out in this strategy and will not be achieved by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, or any other jurisdiction alone. All Canadians are invited to join in supporting and implementing this strategy for the benefit of the Barrens Willow and Canadian society as a whole.
This amended recovery strategy will be followed by one or more action plans that will provide information on recovery measures to be taken by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and other jurisdictions and/or organizations involved in the conservation of the species. Implementation of this strategy is subject to appropriations, priorities, and budgetary constraints of the participating jurisdictions and organizations.
The recovery strategy sets the strategic direction to arrest or reverse the decline of the species, including identification of critical habitat to the extent possible. It provides all Canadians with information to help take action on species conservation. When critical habitat is identified, either in a recovery strategy or an action plan, SARA requires that critical habitat then be protected.
In the case of critical habitat identified for terrestrial species including migratory birds SARA requires that critical habitat identified in a federally protected areaFootnote 1 be described in the Canada Gazette within 90 days after the recovery strategy or action plan that identified the critical habitat is included in the public registry. A prohibition against destruction of critical habitat under ss. 58(1) will apply 90 days after the description of the critical habitat is published in the Canada Gazette.
For critical habitat located on other federal lands, the competent minister must either make a statement on existing legal protection or make an order so that the prohibition against destruction of critical habitat applies.
If the critical habitat for a migratory bird is not within a federal protected area and is not on federal land, within the exclusive economic zone or on the continental shelf of Canada, the prohibition against destruction can only apply to those portions of the critical habitat that are habitat to which the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 applies as per SARA ss. 58(5.1) and ss. 58(5.2).
For any part of critical habitat located on non-federal lands, if the competent minister forms the opinion that any portion of critical habitat is not protected by provisions in or measures under SARA or other Acts of Parliament, or the laws of the province or territory, SARA requires that the Minister recommend that the Governor in Council make an order to prohibit destruction of critical habitat. The discretion to protect critical habitat on non-federal lands that is not otherwise protected rests with the Governor in Council.
Development of this amended recovery strategy was coordinated by Kathy St. Laurent and Marie-Andrée Carrière (Environment and Climate Change Canada – Canadian Wildlife Service). Preparation of this amended recovery strategy occurred concurrently to the development of the action plan and as such thanks to members and associated specialists of the Limestone Barrens Species at Risk Recovery Team for their input and expertise from that process are extended here.
Additions and modifications to the adopted document
The following sections have been included to address specific requirements of the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) that are not addressed in the Recovery Strategy for Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna Fernald) in Canada (Part 1 of this document, referred to henceforth as “the provincial recovery strategy”) and/or to provide updated or additional information.
Under SARA, there are specific requirements and processes set out regarding the protection of critical habitat. Therefore, statements in the provincial recovery strategy referring to protection of critical habitat may not directly correspond to federal requirements. Recovery measures dealing with the protection of habitat are adopted; however whether these measures will result in protection of critical habitat under SARA will be assessed following publication of the final federal recovery strategy.
1 Critical habitat
Critical habitat is the habitat that is necessary for the survival or recovery of the species. Section 41(1)(c) of SARA requires that the recovery strategy include an identification of the species’ critical habitat, to the extent possible, as well as examples of activities that are likely to result in its destruction.
The 2006 federal recovery strategy, based on the 2003 provincial recovery strategy developed by Newfoundland and Labrador, identified critical habitat for the Barrens Willow as “all natural areas of occurrences”. This section clarifies that identification of critical habitat and adds to that identification newly (ca. 2014) discovered occurrences of the species. This section also adds to the general methodology provided in Annex 1 of the provincial recovery strategy.
Critical habitat for the Barrens Willow is partially identified in this document, to the extent possible, based on the geographic location and biophysical attributes. It is recognized that the critical habitat identified in this recovery strategy is insufficient to meet the population and distribution objectiveFootnote 2. A schedule of studies has been developed to provide the information necessary to complete the identification of critical habitat (see next section: Schedule of Studies).
1.1 Identification of the species’ critical habitat
Critical habitat for the Barrens Willow is identified within the defined geographic location (1.1.1) as all areas of naturally-occurring limestone barrens habitat where the biophysical attributes (1.1.2) are found, and that are occupied by the species. In general, these areas are exposed coastal limestone barren habitat where vegetation cover is sparse due to regular disturbance by wind and frost. These areas experience dry to periodically wet conditions related to the amount of rain and snowfall. The substrateFootnote 3 is generally silt and/or sand accumulated in depressions and openings between rocks, or open silt, sand and gravel, sometimes sorted by frostFootnote 4.
Areas containing critical habitat were delineated using a central point within naturally-occurring limestone barrens habitat known to be occupied by the species and using the distance from that point to the furthest edge to inscribe a circle that encompassed the entire habitat; as the habitat areas were different shapes and sizes, the distance from the central point to the furthest edge necessarily varied. Parts of the circle that clearly did not contain the biophysical attributes of critical habitat (e.g. water bodies, forest and other land cover types that appear as mapped layers within our GIS database) were removed.
1.1.1 Geographic location
Critical habitat for the Barrens Willow is located within the Strait of Belle Isle ecoregion along the north coastal section of the Great Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland between Eddies Cove (51° 25′ N and 56° 26′ W) and Cook’s Harbour (51° 36′ N and 55° 53′ W). See Figures 1 to 7 for more detail on the location of critical habitat.
1.1.2 Biophysical attributes
Within the areas identified as containing critical habitat for the Barrens Willow, critical habitat exists where naturally-occurring limestone barrens habitat with the following biophysical attributes occurs:
- substrate is a mixture of exposed calcareous bedrock outcropsFootnote 5, thin layers of frost-shatteredFootnote 6 calcareous gravel and shallow calcareous soils
- substrate characterized by angular boulders, rocks, and pebbles, often in a fine-grained sediment matrix
- vegetation height less than 10 cm
- vegetation cover rarely exceeding 50%
- in some cases, substrate may be sorted by frost action (i.e., a circular or striped pattern may be present - see footnote 5
Barrens Willow can sometimes establish in limestone barrens habitat altered by human activities (e.g., areas cleared to build road surfaces and to support power and telephone pole construction). However, despite such capability, abioticFootnote 7 limitations including substrate moisture, particle composition and thermal regime prevent long-term viable establishment for some rare species (Janes 1999). Habitat altered by human activity contains homogenous gravel substrates that do not exhibit patterning or sorting, are missing a distinct fine-grained component, and have low plant species diversity (Greene 2002; Rafuse 2005; Robinson 2010). These areas altered by human activities are therefore not considered critical habitat. Restored limestone barrens habitat occupied by the species will be considered for critical habitat identification if the biophysical attributes listed above are present
Figure 1 illustrates the critical habitat of Barrens Willow in Newfoundland and Labrador. All critical habitat for the Barrens Willow runs along the north-western coast of Newfoundland. Approximately 11% of the critical habitat for the Barrens Willow in Newfoundland and Labrador occurs within Watts Point Ecological Reserve. The critical habitat is divided into six main areas along the coast of Newfoundland, which are illustrated in detail in figures 2 through 7.
Figure 2 illustrates the most south-western location of Barrens Willow critical habitat in Newfoundland and Labrador. The single detailed unit of critical habitat in Figure 2 is approximately 500 meters wide and less than 500 meters long. Approximately one-third of the critical habitat featured on this map is located within Watts Point Ecological Reserve.
Figure 3 illustrates the critical habitat to the north-east of the area illustrated in Figure 2. There are six detailed units of critical habitat in Figure 3, ranging in size from approximately 100 meters long to approximately 2 kilometers long. Approximately 17% of the critical habitat featured on this map is located within Watts Point Ecological Reserve.
Figure 4 illustrates the critical habitat to the north-east of the area illustrated in Figure 3. The single detailed unit of critical habitat in Figure 4 is approximately 500 meters long and less than 500 meters wide. The critical habitat area is located beside Big Brook, where it enters into Unfortunate Cove.
Figure 5 illustrates the critical habitat to the north-east of the area illustrated in Figure 4. There are three detailed units of critical habitat in Figure 5, ranging in size from approximately 3 kilometers long to approximately 1.5 kilometers long. The three units are located from Lower Cove in the southwest, to Watts Bight in the northeast.
Figure 6 illustrates the critical habitat to the north-east of the area illustrated in Figure 5. There are two detailed units of critical habitat in Figure 6, one of which is approximately 0.75 kilometers long and the other is approximately 100 meters long. The two units are located on the parcel of land between Open Bay and Boat Harbour.
Figure 7 illustrates the most north-eastern location of Barrens Willow critical habitat in Newfoundland and Labrador. The single detailed unit of critical habitat is approximately 5 kilometers long and less than 2 kilometers wide. The northern tip of this critical habitat unit is located close to Christine Cove.
1.2 Schedule of studies
The provincial recovery strategy developed by Newfoundland and Labrador outlines the research to be done on the species’ ecology and conservation. The following schedule of studies (Table 1) outlines the activities required to complete the identification of critical habitat for the Barrens Willow.
|Description of activity||Rationale||Timeline|
|Finalize surveys of potential habitat||The completion of surveys to locate natural areas of occurrence within priority areas is needed to fully identify critical habitat.||2014 to 2019|
|Study population dynamics in order to establish a quantitative population and distribution objective||Quantifying the population and distribution objective will allow for a more thorough assessment of the amount of critical habitat needed to meet the objective.||On-going|
|Determine biophysical factors explaining presence of the species and habitat quality, including factors related to colonization or introduction||Understanding factors related to species ‘presence and persistence will ensure the description of biophysical attributes is complete.||On-going|
1.3 Activities likely to result in destruction of critical habitat
Understanding what constitutes destruction of critical habitat is necessary for the protection and management of critical habitat. Destruction of critical habitat is determined on a case-by-case basis. Destruction would result if part of the critical habitat were degraded, either permanently or temporarily, such that it would not serve its function when needed by the species. Destruction may result from single or multiple activities at one point in time or from the cumulative effects of one or more activities over time. Activities described below include those likely to cause destruction of critical habitat for the species; however, destructive activities are not limited to those listed.
- The removal of substrate, vegetation and/or the organic layer, or the deposition of material that prevents Barrens Willow from germinating, establishing, growing and/or reproducing. Specific examples include commercial or industrial activities, such as limestone gravel excavation, quarrying, drilling, and road construction, including the deposition of associated materials and by-products from of these activities (e.g., gravel and stone piles). Other local activities include the development of recreational trails for eco-tourism purposes.
- Substrate compaction and substrate damage (e.g., limestone shattering) that affects normal root function, seedling recruitment, and natural hydrologic patterns. Specific examples of activities capable of causing compaction and substrate damage include the use of vehicles (e.g., all-terrain vehicle, dirt bike, heavy equipment, car, etc.) off of designated trails and roadways, for example, to conduct maintenance of roads (off of the existing road bed), utility corridors, and service lines; use of off-road vehicles in areas other than on designated roadways/trails; and the placement of temporary or permanent structures. It is important to note that even a single pass of a vehicle, especially when the substrate is wet, can cause enough compaction to result in the loss of habitat function.
- Any activity that reduces the quality of habitat by removing, adding or covering substrate or otherwise damaging components of the plant community. Specific examples include the laying out of fish nets or other fishing equipment, the collecting of rock or plants for horticultural purposes, picnicking in places other than those marked for that purpose, the depositing of waste material, and the introduction of plants or animals non-native to the limestone barrens.
All of these activities can have severe impacts on habitat that is critical to the persistence of the species and can result in direct plant mortality and population decline.
2 Statement on action plans
One or more action plans for the Barrens Willow will be posted on the Species at Risk Public Registry within two years of the final posting of the amended recovery strategy.
3 Effects on the environment and other species
A strategic environmental assessment (SEA) is conducted on all SARA recovery planning documents, in accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals. The purpose of a SEA is to incorporate environmental considerations into the development of public policies, plans, and program proposals to support environmentally sound decision-making and to evaluate whether the outcomes of a recovery planning document could affect any component of the environment or any of the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy’s (FSDS) goals and targets.
Recovery planning is intended to benefit species at risk and biodiversity in general. However, it is recognized that strategies may also inadvertently lead to environmental effects beyond the intended benefits. The planning process based on national guidelines directly incorporates consideration of all environmental effects, with a particular focus on possible impacts upon non-target species or habitats. The results of the SEA are incorporated directly into the strategy itself, but are also summarized below in this statement.
The Barrens Willow is restricted to a rare habitat type, and lives within a unique biological community; it is an endemic species to Canada found nowhere else on earth. Protection of this habitat will ensure protection of many of the other rare species and ecological processes characteristic of this unique ecosystem (Djan-Chékar et al. 2003). Rare species, also endemic, that will benefit from recovery approaches for the Barrens Willow include the Endangered Fernald’s Braya (Braya fernaldii) and Long’s Braya (Braya longii). The potential for the strategy to inadvertently lead to adverse effects on other species was considered. The SEA concluded that this plan will not entail any significant adverse effects.
Djan-Chékar, N.L., L. Hermanutz, D. Ballam, T. Bell, J. Brazil, H. Mann, J. Maunder, S.J. Meades, W. Nicholls, L. Soper and G. Yetman. 2003. Recovery Strategy for the Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna Fernald). Inland Fish and Wildlife Division, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Corner Brook. v + 11 pp.
Environment Canada. 2006. Recovery Strategy for Barrens Willow (Salix jejuna Fernald) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Environment Canada, Ottawa. v + 19 pp.
Greene, S. 2002. Substrate characteristics of Braya habitat on the limestone barrens, Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland. B. Sc. Honours Thesis, Department of Geography, Memorial University, St. John’s, NL, Canada. 68 pp.
Janes, H. 1999. Braya longii (Long’s Braya), Braya fernaldii (Fernald’s Braya) and disturbance on Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula. B. Sc. Honours Thesis, Department of Geography, Memorial University, St. John’s, NL. 44 pp.
Rafuse, G. 2005. The impact of off-road vehicles on the limestone barrens habitat and resident plants endemic to the Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland, Canada. B. Sc. Honours Thesis, Department of Biology, Memorial University, St. John’s, NL, Canada.
Robinson, J. 2010. Conservation of the endangered limestone endemic Salix jejuna; effects of anthropogenic disturbance on habitat and life history. M. Sc. Thesis, Department of Biology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. 150 pp.
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