Landscape-Level Impacts to Salmon and Steelhead Stream Habitats in British Columbia

The extent to which fish habitats are impacted by human activities at the landscape level is now being assessed and studied by fisheries scientists around the world. While there have been extensive efforts to protect and restore fish habitats in recent decades, traditional approaches have focused almost exclusively on in-stream and riparian areas. More recent work has begun to incorporate a broader, landscape perspective when developing strategies and policies aimed at protecting fisheries values. In British Columbia some of the most important salmon and steelhead freshwater environments are physically, chemically and biologically diverse as a result of water flowing through a wide variety of landscapes. The geologies, hydrological regimes and ecological conditions vary significantly across the watersheds, creating a diversity of ecosystems and habitats. However, human activities, at the landscape scale have profoundly changed many of these features along many waterways, often to the detriment of the fish populations that exist within these broad geographic areas. This report examines the influences of landscape-level human activities on fish and fish habitat with a particular focus on activities relating to forestry, agriculture and urbanization.