Summary of Habitat Diversification Program Northwest Boreal Region 1998-1999
Ken D. Wright
The Habitat Diversification Program is an important tool for enhancing wildlife habitat as well as securing and protecting forested lands. Alberta’s crown lands are classified as either white zone (agricultural) or green zone (forestry) for land management purposes. Within the white zone, livestock grazing, agricultural clearing and timber harvesting are diminishing forested lands. Wildlife, especially ungulates, are pushed into large and small drainage systems and small isolated pockets of crown land. These areas are heavily used by wildlife with much of the available browse vegetation consumed or overly mature.
Clearing small areas in the forest promotes new growth, providing browse for wildlife while having little effect on available cover. From 1985 to 1989 and 1994 to 1998, clearings were constructed on several lands throughout the Northwest Boreal region. The lands are secured with protective “Buck for Wildlife” reservations, limiting conflicting land use. Evaluation of these clearings over the years has shown extensive wildlife use. This type of habitat enhancement is most beneficial for moose (Alces alces), but also greatly benefits elk (Cervus canadensis), deer (Odocoilius spp), ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus), sharp-tailed grouse (Pediocetes phsianellus) and winter songbirds. Brush piles and windrows left in the clearing sites provide cover for a variety of small mammals.