Environmental Services for Film and TV Production

Film and television production generates billions of dollars in direct spending in British Columbia every year and creates employment for thousands of talented Canadians across a variety of occupations. British Columbia’s varied landscapes provide stunning backdrops for numerous films, television shows and commercials. Vancouver, BC’s largest city, is the third-largest production centre in North America.

Currently, there are many productions filming outside of studios in the natural environment on both private and public lands. Despite best efforts, film production and its attendant personnel, vehicles, equipment, special effects, and props can have unintended environmental impacts.

Compliance with environmental regulations improves the overall sustainability of the industry, minimizes a production’s environmental footprint, and represents a solid business practice that will be viewed favourably by the public, local governments, First Nation communities, and investors.

Provincial and federal legislation protects environmentally sensitive areas on land and in water bodies such as oceans, lakes, rivers, creeks, and wetlands, as well as the fish and wildlife that depend on these areas. An unintended violation of statutes such as the BC Wildlife Act or the federal Fisheries Act can result in production delays and possibly large fines. Lack of knowledge of the law is not considered a reasonable or sufficient defense should an environmental infraction occur on set.

EcoLogic Consultants Ltd. can help production companies by recommending, designing, and implementing strategies to improve environmental compliance and avoid environmental infractions.

Key service areas include:

Riparian Areas

Riparian areas are the ecological link between land and water—bordering lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands. These extremely valuable areas provide important wildlife and fish habitat and are essential to ensure healthy fish populations. BC’s Riparian Areas Regulation “…calls on local governments to protect riparian areas during residential, commercial, and industrial development by ensuring that a Qualified Environmental Professional (QEP) conducts a science-based assessment of proposed activities.” EcoLogic has QEPs on staff that can develop strategies to ensure that productions abide by any federal and provincial legislation and follow any municipal filming policies and guidelines. EcoLogic can also provide on-location environmental monitors.

Bear Territory

Bears occupy most of BC’s lands, have been seen in almost every community in the province, and inhabit habitats from coastal forests to interior grasslands. The presence of bears at or near a site can pose safety concerns and disrupt productions.

Under the BC Wildlife Act, it is an offence to leave bear attractants such as food and garbage available for bears, and doing so can result in penalties involving fines up to $50,000 and/or six months in jail. Bears can be curious, especially when unfamiliar sounds and smells are in their natural habitat, and they are able to smell food from over a kilometer away. EcoLogic can benefit a production by developing a bear hazard assessment of the filming area, preparing a bear-human conflict management plan, and providing an experienced bear monitor on set. Advance planning can greatly decrease the chance of a bear encounter with production staff, thereby improving the safety of the crew and the health of the bear.

Migratory Birds

Canada seasonally hosts approximately 450 species of breeding birds. Most of these species, as well as their eggs and nests, are protected under the Federal Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the BC Wildlife Act. The presence of active nests on or near an active set could potentially alter a production schedule due to the requirement to protect the nest location from disturbance with “no-go” buffer areas or timing windows. EcoLogic biologists can perform migratory bird nesting surveys to understand the local bird community to help a production abide by the regulatory requirements.

Additional EcoLogic services for production sets and locations include:

  • Providing on-location environmental monitors.
  • Identifying environmentally sensitive areas such as riparian ecosystems.
  • Assisting with short- and long-term permitting.
  • Assessing and restoring damaged landscapes.