Forestry licensees and BC Timber Sales (BCTS) have a legal obligation under the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) to regrow stands of trees after logging. Reforestation efforts must result in successful regeneration of trees and growth to healthy maturity. This is important both to ensure a sustainable flow of economically valuable timber into the future and to maintain broader environmental and community values in BC’s forests.
Interior Douglas-fir (IDF) forests in BC’s southern interior support a number of different uses and values, including timber, range, wildlife and species at risk, recreation, and visual quality. Some IDF ecosystems are often dominated by Douglas-fir trees of mixed age and size with a grassy understory. A common species for planting after logging is lodgepole pine because seedlings have a high survival rate and grow quickly above competing vegetation. Tree species composition in these ecosystems is reported to be shifting from fir to pine with potential implications for timber and non-timber values.
The investigation examined tree species composition trends, assessed licensee compliance with reforestation requirements and assessed the effectiveness of reforestation choices and government direction in establishing and maintaining resilient stands. Focus is on reforestation activities in the Cariboo, Thompson-Okanagan, and Kootenay Boundary Natural Resource Regions in areas logged under FRPA between 2008 and 2017. It includes forest licences, tree farm licences, woodlots, First Nations woodland licences, and community forests.
In June 2019, the Board audited BC Timber Sales’ (BCTS) forestry operations in the Quesnel Natural Resource District portion of BC Timber Sales’ (BCTS) Cariboo – Chilcotin Business Area. The audit was a full scope compliance audit that included those operations that took place over a one-year period starting in June 2018. During this period BCTS harvested about 450,000 cubic metres.
With respect to BCTS activities, the audit identified a significant non-compliance for not ensuring a road and three bridges were structurally sound and safe for industrial use; a significant non-compliance for not reporting silviculture activities; and an unsound practice due to inadequate record documents for constructed bridges.
The audit also identified a significant non-compliance for not having a water delivery system on two cutblocks; an unsound practice for not following the recommendations in a terrain field assessment; and an opportunity for improvement for not completing fire hazard assessments. All these findings are related to timber sale licensees’ activities.
With the exception of these findings, the audit found that operational planning, timber harvesting, road construction and maintenance, silviculture, and fire protection activities complied in all significant respects with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Wildfire Act and related regulations.
As part of its 2019 compliance audit program, the Board selected Community Forest Agreement K4F in the 100 Mile House Natural Resource District as a location for a full scope compliance audit. Clinton & District Community Forest of BC Limited holds the licence.
The activities audited are located in the area surrounding Clinton. The community forest falls within the area covered by the Cariboo-Chilcotin Land Use Plan and must meet government objectives for OGMAs, scenic areas, wildlife tree retention, critical fish habitat, lakes management, grasslands, trails and high value wetlands for moose. All activities complied with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act.
As part of its 2019 compliance audit program, the Board selected Community Forest Agreement K2W in the 100 Mile House Natural Resource District as a location for a full scope compliance audit. 100 Mile Development Corporation holds the licence.
The activities audited are located to the east of 100 Mile House in the area surrounding Horse Lake, where the terrain is gentle to rolling and includes a number of small lakes. All activities complied with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act.
In April 2018, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint from the Lhtako Dene Nation alleging that Tolko (the forest licensee) did not follow through on commitments it made as part of the resolution of a previous complaint to the Board. The new complaint also said that the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development approved an extension to Tolko’s forest stewardship plan without consulting the Lhtako Dene Nation. Tolko requested another extension, but it was not approved.
In September 2018, the Forest Practices Board audited the Small Scale Salvage program in the Cariboo Chilcotin Natural Resource District. Small scale salvage is the harvest of individual trees or small patches of dead or damaged timber.
During the one-year audit period, almost all small scale salvage activity in the district was aimed at addressing a Douglas-fir bark beetle infestation. A small amount of salvage harvesting involved fire-damaged timber.
Two trappers in the Nazko Area, near Quesnel complained to the Board that logging practices to salvage mountain pine beetle killed pine trees have removed fisher habitat on their trapline. They claim habitat loss will affect their livelihood and were concerned that salvage operations were not being managed to maintain fisher and other wildlife habitats.
The Board investigated planning and management by both government and licensees operating in the Nazko Area . The Board conducted site visits and analyzed logging activities. During the investigation the area also experienced widespread forest mortality from forest fires.
The Board found the complainants’ concerns were justified, government did not use the legal tools available to protect fisher habitat and did not monitor or follow up to check if guidance had been followed. Some licensees made attempts to retain habitat for fisher habitat, but the efforts were uncoordinated and ultimately insufficient given the extent of salvage harvesting.
In October 2017, the Board audited forestry operations on Tree Farm Licence 52 held by West Fraser Mills Ltd.(West Fraser) within the Quesnel Natural Resource District. This audit included harvesting, roads, silviculture, wildfire protection and associated planning that took place over a 16 month period starting in July 2016.
West Fraser’s activities complied in all significant respects with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Wildfire Act and related regulations.
In February, 2017, the Forest Practices Board received a complaint from the Lhtako Dene First Nation asserting that planned harvesting in two landscape units by Tolko Industries Ltd. will impact moose populations and landscape-level biodiversity in their Traditional Territory. The Lhtako Dene also said that communication with Tolko has been difficult and that they did not receive landscape-level biodiversity assessments they requested from Tolko in a timely manner. After meeting with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Tolko, the Lhtako Dene say that communication has improved and they are satisfied that their complaint has been resolved.
In August 2016, the Board received a complaint asserting that a timber sale licence holder (TSL holder) under the BC Timber Sales program had removed portions of a fence on the complainant’s range agreement area, within the 100 Mile House Natural Resource District, to accommodate road access for timber harvesting. The complainant alleged that the actions of the TSL holder put their livestock at risk and that the TSL holder did not obtain the required authorizations from the district manager to remove portions of the fence.
In December 2016, the district manager issued a policy on implementation of section 51 of the Forest and Range Practices Act. The complainant is satisfied with the new district policy on range developments and with BC Timber Sales’ commitment to ensure the fence repairs meet ministry standards.