Cumulative Effects Framework

British Columbia is committed to sustainable resource management. As resource demands grow, we must be able to measure the effects of all natural resource activities, large and small, on values that are important to the people of British Columbia.

Cumulative Effects in British Columbia

Cumulative effects are changes to environmental, social and economic values caused by the combined effect of past, present and potential future human activities and natural processes.

Laws, regulations and policies around natural resource management usually focus on a specific sector – such as forestry, mining, and oil and gas. Formal environmental assessments consider cumulative effects when evaluating large projects; however, many proposals are small in size and do not require such assessments.

The Cumulative Effects Framework

British Columbia’s answer to this potential problem is the cumulative effects framework. The cumulative effects framework is a set of policies, procedures and decision-support tools that helps identify and manage cumulative effects consistently and transparently across British Columbia's natural resource sector.

Cumulative Effects Framework 101

An overview of British Columbia's Cumulative Effects Framework.

The framework incorporates the combined effects of all activities and natural processes into decision-making to help avoid unintended consequences to identified economic, social and environmental values.

The cumulative effects framework does not create new legislative requirements; rather it informs and guides cumulative effects considerations through existing natural resource sector legislation, policies, programs and initiatives. Integrating the cumulative effects framework into existing natural resource decision-making processes and enabling cross-sector governance will ensure cumulative effects are identified, considered and managed consistently.


  • Resource managers and decision makers will have better information and tools for considering cumulative effects on values and how best to manage them across the natural resource sector
  • Reduced costs and faster review times from assessing cumulative effects on a regional scale rather than a project-by-project basis
  • Individuals or companies involved in the natural resource sector – from First Nations to foresters, communities to energy producers – will have the information they need to assess potential impacts of projects quickly and effectively
  • First Nations will be able to use the assessments to monitor the condition of values important to them, while government can use assessments to help support obligations for considering  cumulative impacts on First Nations interests and Aboriginal and treaty rights


The cumulative effects framework will help provide:

  • Improved ability to manage for desired outcomes for values
  • Support for assessing impacts to First Nations interests and rights
  • More efficient and stream-lined decision-making
  • Better information for durable and transparent decisions

For more information on the science-based tools to help make informed decisions see Integrated Resource Monitoring.


Cumulative Effects Framework 201- Wind Power Case Study


Interim Policy and Assessment Protocols

Once completed, cumulative effects assessment results will be publicly available and easily accessible on cumulative effects framework website and Internet portals. The interim assessment protocols for the first three values (i.e., aquatic ecosystems, grizzly bear and old growth forest) are available here. Assessment results will be publicly available online as they are completed.

The phased implementation of the cumulative effects framework will use an adaptive management approach that can incorporate new information and refined assessment methodologies to allow for the continuous improvement of the framework. The approval of the cumulative effects framework interim policy and assessment protocols for the three values is a significant milestone for the phased implementation of the cumulative effects framework province-wide. For more information on the cumulative effects framework and interim policy, see our Interim Policy webpage and our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

We’re Listening

Meaningful engagement with external audiences is vital for the successful implementation of the cumulative effects framework. We are engaging and collaborating with First Nations, resource industries, environmental non-government organizations and other stakeholders to make the framework better. For more information see our engagement webpage Get Involved.