In February 2018, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint from residents of East Thurlow Island about forest planning for old forest and red- and blue-listed plant communities in the Great Bear Rainforest. The complainants believed that TimberWest’s planning did not meet the intent of the Great Bear Rainforest Order, and that it favored the harvest of timber over the conservation of ecological integrity.

The Board concludes TimberWest is meeting the intent of the Order on East Thurlow Island.

A professional biologist with black bear expertise submitted a complaint on April 8, 2019, asserting that black bear dens in large diameter, old trees are being lost to harvesting old growth forests on Vancouver Island. The complainant is concerned that the declining availability of large trees will eventually affect population numbers.

The Board concluded that there is uncertainty in terms of the population status of black bears on Vancouver Island.

In late July, the Forest Practices Board audited the forest activities of Western Forest Products Inc.  in Blocks 2 and 5 of tree farm licence 39. Block 2 is located near Sayward on Vancouver Island, and Block 5 is located on the mainland coast in the Phillips River watershed.

This was a full scope compliance audit and all activities carried out between July 1, 2017, and July 27, 2018, were eligible for audit. The Board found that Western complied with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act. This is the third audit of the TFL since 2008, and all have shown good results.

A government mapping error lead residents of Granite Bay (the complainants), on Quadra Island, to believe that the area across the bay from them was a park and would not be logged. When the Granite Bay residents discovered that the area could be logged they asked the district manager to establish a visual quality objective of retention so that any logging will be difficult to see. This letter reports the resolution of this complaint.

As part of its 2015 compliance audit program, the Forest Practices Board randomly selected the Forest Licence A19231, held by Western Forest Products Ltd. (WFP) in the Campbell River District, for audit. WFP’s operations are mainly located on Nootka Island, but also extend northward on Vancouver Island to the Zeballos area, with a few outlying areas north of Gold River. Limited access to Nootka Island creates operational challenges for WFP staff, so they contract Nootka Sound Timber Co. Ltd. to manage operations on the island.

The audit identified two notable practices; one is an electronic bridge ledger system and the other is a terrain risk management strategy. WFP kept a very detailed bridge ledger, recording and digitally linking construction, inspection and maintenance documents in one central, easy to follow location. This bridge database is the most user friendly, comprehensive collection of bridge information the Board has seen yet. In addition, WFP developed a terrain risk management strategy that informs and guides its forest road and harvesting activities. It was developed with terrain and hydrological expert assistance, and has been in use by the company since 2013. The Board has not seen this type of strategy elsewhere.

The audit also identified an area requiring improvement related to road construction and maintenance at a fish stream crossing. While constructing a road to access timber WFP installed a box culvert to cross a fish stream (S3). During construction, WFP placed angular rock on the stream banks to stabilize them and to provide a foundation for the culvert. The rock constricts the stream channel and could potentially accelerate stream flow and erode the channel when stream flow is high. A fish biologist assessed the potential impacts on fish and fish habitat and determined the constriction will likely have a minimal impact.

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is a forest management approach intended to maintain ecosystem integrity while providing for societal needs in the Great Bear Rainforest of Coastal BC. Ecological (old growth forest) representation and protection of at-risk plant communities are two key elements of EBM to help maintain ecological integrity and promote fully functional ecosystems on the BC Coast. Government set out the legal objectives for implementation of EBM by enacting the South Central Coast Order and the Central and North Coast Order in 2007. In February 2014, concerned residents complained that TimberWest was harvesting old forest, harvesting in areas with at-risk plant communities, and not abiding by the spirit and intent of the South Central Coast Order.

This report explores compliance with the South Central Coast Order for EBM, the clarity of both the Order and associated government direction and, the importance of understanding and managing to the spirit and intent of EBM in the Great Bear Rainforest.

As part of the Forest Practices Board’s 2014 compliance audit program, the Board randomly selected the Campbell River Resource District as the location for an audit. Within the district, the Board selected Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 47, held by TimberWest Forest Corporation. The audit assessed all timber harvesting, roads, silviculture, protection activities, and associated planning, carried out over two years, commencing in August 2012.

TimberWest conducted its operations within the Campbell River and North Island Central Coast Districts, south-east of Port McNeil and on the islands to the east of Johnstone Strait. These islands are only accessible by water, making operations challenging. The TFL contains natural resource values, including scenic corridors, marine recreation areas, old growth forests, rare plant communities, and cultural sites, requiring special management. During the two-year audit period, the licensee harvested approximately 730 000 cubic metres of timber, in accordance with their forest stewardship plans.

The audit found that planning and field activities undertaken by TimberWest complied in all significant respects with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act.

The audit found an area of improvement related to fire hazard assessments.

The findings of this audit are unique and do not represent the standard of forest practices usually identified through Board audits. The Board has conducted well over 100 compliance audits since 1996, including over 20 audits of BCTS operations, and has never previously encountered this level of non-compliance.The results show significant and pervasive findings of non-compliance with the Forest and Range Practices Act and two instances of non-compliance with the Wildfire Act.

Overall, BCTS-CR and eight individual timber sale licence holders each had at least one significant noncompliance finding, while several had multiple significant findings. Some of these timber sale licence holders operated on more than one timber sale and significant findings were identified with each timber sale. There were also concerns noted with respect to forest practices that are technically compliant, but are considered by the Board to be unsound.

In the fall of 2009, the Forest Practices Board conducted a special investigation into how well forest companies are meeting their obligations to maintain roads and bridges under the Forest and Range Practices Act. The investigation took place in the Campbell River, South Island and Squamish forest districts in the Coast Forest Region.

The Board looked at how road maintenance obligations were being met by 8 licensees holding road permit tenures associated with 11 forest licences. The licensees were Aat’uu Forestry Limited Partnership and TimberWest Forest Corporation in the Campbell River Forest District; Coulson Forest Products Ltd. and Teal-Jones Group in the South Island Forest District; and C.R.B. Logging Co. Ltd., Northwest Squamish Forestry Ltd., Squamish Mills Ltd. and Halray Logging Ltd. in the Squamish Forest District.

In British Columbia, use of Crown range is regulated by the Range Act and the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA). The Range Act provides the authority to grant range agreements, including permits and licences. These agreements include things like the tenure area and the amount of forage that can be consumed by livestock on Crown land. Similar to the former Forest Practices Code, FRPA provides the necessary authority for government to manage the Crown land resource. This includes authority to require the agreement holder to prepare a range plan and follow practice requirements.

The investigation found that the current framework for range planning under FRPA is not working well for agreement holders, MFR range staff or for management of the range resource. First, there is widespread uncertainty about what the objectives for range mean and what is required to achieve them. Second, agreement holders are expected to write measurable and enforceable plans, yet may not have the necessary qualifications and experience to do so. Finally, the preparation and approval of RUPs is a time consuming and challenging task for agreement holders and the MFR, and it is not clear if range planning is achieving any measurable benefit in managing the range resource.