Conservation of Unique and At-risk Species


  • Over 400 species of plants and animals rely on BC’s old growth forests for at least part of their life cycle. As of February 18, 2022, 326 species (plants, animals, birds, etc.) have been sighted and recorded in the Fairy Creek watershed, including 17 species that are at risk.

Many endangered species inhabit the old-growth forests that lie within and just outside of the Fairy Creek watershed. Eighty-two observations of 17 at-risk mammal, bird, amphibian and plant species have been recorded on iNaturalist as of February 18, 2022 (Table 2). Tasha Lavdovsky found the exceedingly rare, blue-listed oldgrowth specklebelly lichen (Pseudocyphellaria rainierensis) in a partially logged cut block at Fairy Creek. This lichen is unique to old growth forests on the west coast and the population at Fairy Creek is likely the largest ever found in BC. At risk bird species that retired University of British Columbia professor Dr. Royann Petrell and others have seen and heard in 2021 include marbled murrelets – sea birds that make solitary nests, only in old-growth forests – as well as western screech owls and others. The scientists’ biological survey also turned up endangered western toads, northern red-legged frogs, wandering salamanders, Townsend’s big-eared bat, and several at risk plant species.

Northern red-legged frog (Photo by Alan Wolf / Flickr)
Old growth specklebelly (iNaturalist)

In addition to the 17 at-risk species that have been observed in the Fairy Creek watershed (Table 2), many other red and blue listed plant species occur within the same or similar biogeoclimatic subzones within the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District located on west central Vancouver Island, where Fairy Creek is situated (Table 3). These species have not yet been discovered at Fairy Creek but many are likely there given that they occupy forest, riparian or other kinds of habitats that correspond to those found in old forests. Table 3 was compiled based on E-flora (Klinkenberg, 2020), B.C. Species and Ecosystems Explorer, Conservation Data Center and the book Rare Native Vascular Plants of B.C. (Douglas et al., 1998).