A special investigation examining whether government’s compliance and enforcement framework is appropriate, with a focus on the Forest and Range Practices Act and Wildfire Act.
The Board will report to the public on the results of this special investigation, addressing the structure and delivery of the Compliance and Enforcement program, after the completion of interviews, office work and analysis. The Board may make recommendations for improvement.
This bulletin explores why fire hazard assessment is important; recent Board audit findings; and provides some FAQs.
A fire hazard assessment considers the risk of a fire starting, the hazard associated with the industrial activity, the difficulty in controlling a fire and the potential threat to values.
The Forest Practices Board (Board) is British Columbia’s independent forest and range watchdog. On behalf of the public, it monitors and reports on forest and range practices on public land. One of the main ways it does this is through field-based compliance audits of forest and range licensees.
The purpose of this guide is to help licensees prepare for a Board range audit and discuss how to conduct their practices to avoid issues most commonly found in past audits. This guide answers some frequently asked questions and provides potential auditees with background information on the audit process.
This bulletin explores stewardship from a Forest Practices Board perspective. It is intended to foster discussion and promote stewardship of public forest and range resources.
The Forest Practices Board defines stewardship as ensuring responsible resource use today, while maintaining the health of the land for future generations.
Mountain caribou are at risk in the southern two-thirds of British Columbia. The government has identified habitat loss as one of the key factors in the decline of the caribou population over the past few decades. It has made habitat protection, monitoring and adaptive management high priorities.
As part of its 2007 Mountain Caribou Recovery Implementation Plan the BC government issued nine ungulate winter range orders, covering more than two million hectares of Crown land, under the Government Actions Regulation of the Forest and Range Practices Act. These orders contain special restrictions for industrial and commercial recreational activities to protect mountain caribou habitat.
This special investigation examines whether timber removal by industrial and commercial recreational sectors complied with Ungulate Winter Range Order U-3-004, in the Blue River area and comments on the status of habitat monitoring and adaptive management.
The investigation showed that all sectors have complied with Ungulate Winter Range Order U-3-004, and the government continues to develop and implement effectiveness monitoring initiatives as a high priority, so it can adapt management measures, if necessary, to improve mountain caribou recovery efforts. The implementation of effectiveness monitoring work is still in the early stages and it’s not yet possible to say whether habitat protection measures will be meaningful for long term recovery of caribou herds.
District managers for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations are the government decision-makers who are “closest to the ground.” These are the government officials who review and approve resource development on public land.
In recent years, the Forest Practices Board has seen situations arise where forestry development was putting local environmental and community values at risk, yet district managers could do little to affect the development and protect the public interest.
This special report is intended to highlight issues that the Board has observed and to stimulate public discussion of potential solutions. The report is based on previously published Board reports, supplemented by interviews with district managers.
The Forest Practices Board conducted a full scope compliance audit of NRFL A76553 held by Pacific Bioenergy Timber Corp. (PBE) and NRFL A76729 held by RPP Holdings Inc. in the Quesnel District. The audit included all harvesting, roads, silviculture and protection activities, and associated planning, carried out between June 1, 2013, and June 23, 2015.
PBE and RPP operations are located about 100 kilometres west of Quesnel near the village of Nazko. Both licensees target lodgepole pine stands that have been killed or damaged by mountain pine beetle. During the two-year audit period, PBE harvested approximately 94 479 cubic metres and RPP harvested approximately 540 828 cubic metres.
With the exception of one opportunity for improvement for PBE, the operational planning, timber harvesting, road construction, maintenance and deactivation and fire protection activities carried out by the licensees complied in all significant respects with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act.
When the Forest and Range Practices Act became law over a decade ago, forest stewardship plans (FSPs) replaced forest development plans as the key operational planning document. Government stated its expectations for FSPs, saying they would, among other things, contribute to innovation, effectiveness in compliance and enforcement actions, and effectiveness in public consultation. In 2006 the Board examined the content of initial FSPs and concluded that they were not well-suited for public review, content was sparse and enforceability of results and strategies was limited due to the way they were written.
In 2014 the Board decided to undertake another investigation of FSPs in BC to determine if they have improved since 2006. Specifically, the Board investigated these questions:
- Are FSPs useful for public review and comment?
- Are results, strategies and measures within FSPs measurable and enforceable?
- Are results and strategies in approved FSPs consistent with government’s objectives?
- Is innovation apparent in FSPs?
- Are FSPs getting better?
This report contains the results of that examination and makes several recommendations to address key findings.
Between February 26 and March 31, 2015 the Forest Practices Board conducted a benchmark survey. The objective of this survey was to improve the Board’s understanding of its perceived value and performance in pursuing its mission, and to establish baseline metrics to ensure verifiable, meaningful progress can be made. This in turn will better position the Board to evaluate and improve upon its watchdog function and focus its outreach and communication activities with key stakeholder groups.
A summary of findings of the 23 audits published in 2013 and 2014 that draws attention to the number of failures to follow Wildfire Act requirements. This trend is concerning to the Board, especially as we enter into a summer following historic low snow packs in many areas of the province, and are seeing an early start to the wildfire season.
Of the 23 audit reports, 11 had no concerns noted, and 12 had a total of 24 concerns reported. Of particular concern to the Board is that one third of the findings relate to the Wildfire Act. The Board encourages all licensees, big and small, to pay particular attention to fire protection activities this coming season.