Public Engagement on Amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act (June 2019)

As part of government’s public consultation on proposed amendments to FRPA, the Forest Practices Board submitted comments on the need for modernized planning under FRPA.

READ Board Submission

Priorities for Strengthening the Forest and Range Practices Act (August 2019)

This letter provides the Board’s additional thoughts on some key priorities for legislative reform; these are all derived from previous Board work including investigations, appeals and audits.

READ Board Response

READ Ministry’s Response

 

The Forest Practices Board strategic plan for 2019-2022 will guide our work and help us to focus on priority issues for the next three years.

Planning for forest management in BC is currently missing a critical level between strategic processes for setting direction (such as land use planning) and operational planning. This tactical level of planning is essential if we are going to move towards a desired future forest for all values.

In this special report, the Board has outlined the advantages and principles of tactical forest planning—why we should do it and what it consists of.

In 2015, the Forest Practices Board published a special investigation report on forest stewardship plans (FSPs). The 2015 report findings were substantial, and the recommendations triggered a quick response from government in the form of non-legal direction and training for practitioners and government staff. Since the 2015 report came out, many FSPs have expired and new replacement FSPs have been submitted to the province for approval.

The Board decided to take a look at the status and content of new FSPs to see if its recommendations were being implemented and if the new replacement FSPs were improving. The results of that follow-up work are contained in this report.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is British Columbia’s land manager, responsible for stewardship of provincial Crown land, cultural and natural resources. The Compliance and Enforcement Branch (C&E) is the law enforcement arm of the ministry and is responsible for ensuring compliance with natural resource legislation.

In 2013, the Board examined the C&E program and released its “Monitoring Licensees’ Compliance with Legislation” special investigation report. The Board found that the number of inspections of forest and range activities was one-third the level carried out before the expansion of C&E’s mandate. Since that report came out, the C&E program has changed dramatically.

With focus on the Wildfire Act and FRPA, this investigation examines the compliance and enforcement framework that government has established.

Fish are an important part of the environmental, economic, social, cultural and spiritual fabric of BC. People care deeply about fish and fish habitats and how they are managed. Much of the public’s concern about fish relates to how forestry and range activities are managed to prevent impacts to fish habitats. The Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) and its regulations contain several objectives and practice requirements to protect or conserve fish and fish habitats.

Past Board work and government monitoring have shown that the general practices requirements in FRPA have improved the protection of fish habitats compared to when there was no such legislation.  This special report identifies opportunities to further strengthen aspects of forest management and FRPA implementation to conserve fish habitats.

The Board received a complaint about harvesting a young stand of trees that had been treated to increase the volume and value of the trees. The complainant was concerned that harvesting this young stand may impact timber supply and was not consistent with good forest stewardship or sound ecological principles.

The Board believed that one stand alone is not significant, so it decided to carry out a special investigation looking at the practice of harvesting young stands across five coastal timber supply areas (TSAs): the Arrowsmith, Fraser, Soo, Strathcona and Sunshine Coast.

The investigation examined the extent of young stand harvesting and the amount of harvesting in treated stands.

The purpose of this special report is to identify key opportunities to improve the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA). It is based on a review of Board recommendations from reports published since 2010 and the British Columbia government’s response to those recommendations.

In this report, the Board identifies five priority recommendations, discusses why they continue to be priorities in 2017, and describes the status of government’s implementation.

Monitoring and continuous improvement is a foundational piece in the BC results-based model of forest and range stewardship. The role of government’s Forest and Range Evaluation Program (FREP) is to monitor results on the ground to ensure planning and practices, as well as policy, are effective in meeting government objectives for sustainable forest and range management, as established in the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA).

The Forest Practices Board evaluated FREP’s progress in implementing its effectiveness monitoring role in the FRPA framework, using FREP’s intended program outcomes as the evaluation criteria. This is a report on the Board’s findings.

This is a Board special investigation to determine whether the parties who construct resource roads on steep terrain are meeting legal requirements of FRPA and following professional standards of practice and the related guidelines of the professional regulatory bodies. Are the roads stable, safe for industrial and public use, constructed according to plan, and is the potential for damage to the environment being mitigated?

In 2015 and 2016 the Board reviewed construction of 26 steep road segments in five resource districts across the province. The investigation found that while most of the road segments had qualified registered professional involvement and met the legal requirements, only 10 followed all of the professional practice guidelines. The Board also found that 6 of the road segments were considered structurally unsafe, and that 5 of the 6 were constructed in a manner that did not reduce the likelihood of a landslide or ensure protection of the environment. None of these road segments involved a qualified professional in the road design or construction.

These findings reflect all sizes and types of forest licensees—there is no trend.