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 October 2018, the Board received a complaint about planned logging in the Glade community watershed, near Castlegar, BC. The Glade Watershed Protection Society was concerned that a watershed assessment was incomplete, outdated, and inconsistent with forest stewardship plan strategies to meet community watershed objectives.
The Board considered whether the watershed assessment is consistent with the expected professional standards, and whether the licensees complied with legal requirements in the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA).
As part of its 2019 compliance audit program, the Board randomly selected forest licence A30171, held by Cooper Creek Cedar Ltd. in the Selkirk Natural Resource District for audit. This was a full scope compliance audit of activities carried out between September 1, 2017, and September 26, 2019.
Cooper Creek complied with most of the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act. However, the audit did find a non-compliance involving an excavator that crossed a bridge that was not rated to handle the weight of the machine, and that Cooper Creek needs to prepare site plans for roads built outside of cutblocks.
As part of its 2018 compliance audit program, the Board randomly selected the Arrow Field Unit portion of BC Timber Sales’ (BCTS) Kootenay Business Area for audit. The Arrow Field Unit covers the Arrow Lakes and is approximately 1,350,000 hectares, starting at the US border and stretching north towards Revelstoke. BCTS has several operating areas dispersed throughout the field unit. The communities of Trail, Castlegar, Fruitvale, Nakusp and Rossland are within the field unit.
The audit found that BCTS and timber sale licensees’ practices complied with FRPA and the WA, but also found that several licensees’ fire hazard assessment practices require improvement. While licensees are abating the fire hazard as a standard practice, they cannot demonstrate that they have been diligent in assessing the hazard, which is a non-compliance with legislation.