plants animals ecology
Strix Environmental Consulting, based in Fort Langley, British Columbia, was established in 1994 by Phillip Henderson, B.Sc. (Zool.), R.P.Bio. Strix specializes in inventories and assessments of plants (vascular plants, mosses and liverworts), animals (primarily vertebrates) and ecosystems throughout British Columbia and western Canada for governments, industry, the private sector and conservation organizations.
Strix provides complete services for small and medium sized projects, engaging exceptional field and project personnel as required. Strix assists other consulting firms on projects of all sizes by conducting inventories, identifying specimens and completing associated reporting.
Strix recognizes that all projects and the environments in which they occur are unique and complex. Environmental impact assessments usually rely on limited information and research to make decisions about complex ecological systemsa. It is therefore imperative that studies focus on gathering the right information, that they are sufficiently comprehensive to provide useful and defensible data, that gaps in knowledge, study limitations and risk to the environment are identified and that information is presented clearly.
Strix completes all aspects of study – from planning and field work to research and report preparation – using experienced and skilled personnel. This is another critical component for study success1.
Strix approaches all projects with the same thoroughness and commitment to the project and to the environment. It is these pursuits that guide our work.
If you have time, scroll down to learn more about Strix or simply check out the advantages of a comprehensive study, here.
a. Ecology could be referred to as "the unknowable science", a grey science sandwiched between thin layers of black and white. We understand a lot about ecology and have developed reasonable means to classify it but because of its inherent complexity (the seemingly infinite number of interactions possible between organisms and between organisms and their environment) the ecological consequences of our actions - disturbance and destruction - are largely unknown or unknowable. What we think may occur, may not; ecological interactions may produce unexpected consequences.2 These uncertainties must be acknowledged and addressed. In addition, in consulting work long term study is seldom financed because economic drivers are rooted in immediacy and we must attempt to determine outcomes (and preserve organisms and their habitats) with limited information from inventory, experience, and research presented in the literature. So, it is important to acknowledge that we cannot assert that which we do not know: we must adopt a comprehensive and balanced approach, erring on the side of conservation. Monitoring and using adaptive management to evaluate outcomes may provide the best means of further understanding ecology and managing wildlife.2
the way forward
Satisfying minimal requirements as the sole objective of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) may not ensure the conservation of biodiversity and ecological processes. This is no longer acceptable. There is changing opinion and a move towards enhancement or net ecological gain for developments rather than simply attempting to limit damage1.
Consulting biologists must develop effective designs and measures to conserve or enhance biodiversity and ecology. It is our obligation to develop and present ways to achieve this within the context of the project.
To fulfill these obligations and accomplish these objectives Strix employs "tried and true" methods, government-sanctioned methods, new methods from recent literature, and adopts and creates methods to apply to specific tasks and projects. See ideas, below.
Our understanding of ecology benefits from the knowledge of those whose lives are connected to the land. First Nations are long time stewards of large tracts of land and their input is critical to our understanding of ecology and the formulaton of land use decisions3. Working with First Nations and incorporating indigenous knowledge (local ecological knowledge), not simply to compartmentalize or "validate" it within a "scientific approach" but to weight it equally, encourages a holistic and inclusive view that will help us better understand and manage ecological values, impacts and consequences.3,4
A comprehensive inventory, study or EIA may provide the following advantages5,6,7.
identify and conserve rare organisms, ecosystems and ecological processes
satisfy legal requirements such as laws associated with migratory birds and plant and animal species at risk
reduce project costs or prevent costs (potential need to address issues that were not initially considered)
create higher land values for residential development with the retention of green space and green viewscapes (public health and well-being)
create greater acceptance by review agencies (make the process of review and approval faster and easier)
increase public favour and reduce the number of conflicts and resistance to development
increase your environmental profile
create sustainable developments
create new relationships with beneficial stakeholders
highlight and promote environmental education
Avoidance is the best option. If the project can avoid destroying or altering populations or habitats (an example is clearing vegetation outside of the breeding bird period) much fuss and expense can be also be avoided. If not, then time and money will be consumed on mitigation, compensation, offsetting, relocation, restoration, management and monitoring.5,6,7 Avoidance is tops in the “mitigation hierarchy.”2,8,9
Ideas are an important component of all studies, from inventories of plants and animals to environmental impact assessments. The goals may be clear but the way to reach them may not be. Instructions, requirements, guidelines and planning policies are often provided and must be consulted but they may be outdated, flawed or insufficiently comprehensive. A review of other methods provides the opportunity to identify novel means of achieving the goals that were previously overlooked and which may better serve the environment and the project.
Strix guarantees that it will conduct its work with thoroughness, transparency, integrity and accountability and that it will explore all avenues to ensure project success and the conservation of native plants, animals, ecosystems and ecological processes.
As a result, Strix cannot guarantee that a project will proceed as planned, without some changes or concessions. Fortunately, these usually benefit everyone.
about the name
Strix Environmental Consulting takes it name from a Genus of owls which is represented in Canada by the Spotted Owl, Barred Owl, and Great Gray Owl. Barred Owls and Great Gray Owls are found across Canada while the endangered Spotted Owl is present only in southwestern British Columbia, the northern extension of its range through Washington, Oregon and northern California.
memberships and professional associations
(click on each to visit their website)
The Wildlife Society
Society for Northwestern Vertebrate Biology
Biodiversity Centre for Wildlife Studies
British Columbia Field Ornithologists
International Association of Bryologists
Société québécoise de bryologie
Native Plant Society of Saskatchewan
Association of Professional Biology (B.C.)
College of Applied Biology (B.C.)
In addition to gathering information for projects for clients, Strix's principal, Phil Henderson, gathers information on plants (bryophytes and vascular plants) and animals to document their distribution and abundance throughout British Columbia and also in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Quebec. He participated in the Biological Survey of Canada's Bio-Blitz of the Peace River valley (2015) to collect information on bryophytes, vascular plants and birds whose populations and habitats will be destroyed (flooded) with the construction of the Site C dam near Fort St. John. (See their Winter 2015 newsletter for a description of the event and preliminary findings.) Phil spent as much time as possible in the field with the late Glenn Ryder (see Wildlife Afield, Volume 10, Number 2), an exceptional naturalist, documenting wildlife (plants and animals) throughout the lower Fraser Valley. He continues to explore this area and others as time permits. He conducts various bird surveys throughout British Columbia.
Contact Strix for details on its comprehensive insurance coverage, safety and industrial certifications.
1. Morris, P. and Therivel, R. (eds.). 2009. Methods of Environmental Impact Assessment, 3rd edition, Routledge, London and New York.
2. Boyce, M. S., E. H. Merrill, and A. R. E. Sinclair. 2009. Managing the biosphere: Wildlife management. Pages 695-700 In: The Princeton Guide to Ecology. Edited by S. A. Levin. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.
3. Brondizio, E. S. and F. M Le Tourneau. 2016. Environmental Governance for All. Science 352(6291):1272-1273.
4. Mistry, J. and A. Berardi. 2016. Bridging indigenous and scientific knowledge. Science 352(6291):1274-1275.
5. Morrison-Saunders, A., Bond, A., Pope, J. & Retief, F. 2015. Demonstrating the benefits of impact assessment for proponents. Impact Assess. Proj. Apprais., 33, 37-41.
6. Sadar, M.H. 1996. Environmental impact assessment. 2nd Edition. Impact Assessment Centre, Carleton University. Carleton University Press Inc. Ottawa.
7. Eaton, S. T., and J. S. Boates. 2005. A guide to municipal tools supporting wildlife species and habitats in Nova Scotia. NS Department of Natural Resources, Kentville, NS.
8. Noble, B. 2014. Introduction to Environmental Impact Assessment: a Guide to Principles and Practice, 3rd Edition. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.
9. BCMOE. 2014. Procedures for mitigating impacts on environmental values (environmental mitigation procedures). Version 1.0. May 27, 2014. British Columbia Ministry of Environment. Ecosystems Branch Environmental Sustainability and Strategic Policy. Victoria, B.C.