In May 2016, Sierra Club BC submitted a complaint about logging practices in the East Creek Valley. This valley is just north of Mquqwin / Brooks Peninsula Provincial Park on northwest Vancouver Island. Sierra Club BC (the complainant) was concerned with a wide range of issues related to forest planning and practices.

The Board examined the licensee’s forest operations on the ground in the East Creek Valley, their planning activities relating to the operations, and whether the licensee provided adequate access to site plan information when requested by the complainant.

In August 2016 the Forest Practices Board audited the activities of Husby ‘s Forest Licence A16869 in the Haida Gwaii Natural Resource District. Husby is part of the Husby Group, a privately held forest products company with operations mainly located on Haida Gwaii. The licence permits it to harvest 192,044 cubic metres of timber each year within the district.

Husby passed the audit with operational planning, timber harvesting, road construction and maintenance, silviculture, and fire protection activities complying in all significant respects with the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Wildfire Act and related regulations. However, because Husby did not complete fire hazard assessments on time, the audit found an area requiring improvement for fire hazard assessments.

In April 2015, Board staff noticed logging near Port Alberni that appeared to exceed the government’s visual quality objectives for the area. After making some initial enquiries, the Board decided to investigate the issue—looking into compliance with the Forest and Range Practices Act, the licensee’s consideration of visual impacts, and appropriateness of government’s enforcement.

The Board found issues with the licensee’s management and government’s enforcement of visual quality, and makes recommendations to the government and the Association of BC Forest Professionals.

In January 2015, Spirit of the West Adventures, a guided adventure tourism company that has a base camp at Boat Bay, complained that proposed harvesting by TimberWest Forest Corp. would adversely affect their clients’ kayaking experience. The complainant was also concerned that neither TimberWest nor the district manager of the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations, North Island Central Coast District, addressed its concerns about visual quality in a reasonable manner.

Because the concern did not focus on the licensee’s compliance with government’s established visual quality objective, this report focuses on whether TimberWest and the district manager addressed the visual concerns in a reasonable manner.

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.

In March 2013, Heritage and Natural Resources Committee of the Council of the Haida Nation complained that timber harvesting on Haida Gwaii, by Teal Cedar Products Ltd., did not meet visual quality objectives at a number of locations. The complainant was also concerned about the lack of accountability for the results of these practices under BC’s Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA), which includes professional reliance as a key foundational element.

While this report looks at the licensee’s compliance with government’s established visual quality objectives, it also underscores key considerations for making professional reliance effective. It also emphasizes the importance of appropriate government enforcement to support public confidence in discretionary decision-making held by licensees and their professionals under FRPA.

This is the audit report for woodlot licence W0033, held by Penelakut First Nation (Penelakut). It is 800 hectares in area, all of which is Crown land. The licence is located west of Mount Prevost and south of the Chemainus River. It has an allowable annual cut of 4 200 cubic metres per year. During the two-year audit period, Penelakut harvested about 32 000 cubic metres of timber. Auditors were aware that the licence was in an overcut position and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations is addressing this situation directly with the licensee.

The audit examined Penelakut’s planning, field activities and obligations related to:

  • operational planning (including woodlot licence plans  and pre-harvest maps )
  • timber harvesting
  • road construction, maintenance and deactivation
  • silviculture activities and obligations
  • fire fuel hazard management
  • fire prevention practices

This special investigation looked at karst management on northern Vancouver Island and did not determine that any caves or significant karst features had been damaged or rendered ineffective by forestry activities. However, investigators were only able to assess the portions of karst terrain thatwere readily visible; they did not assess the subterranean portions.

The Board acknowledges that forest management on karst terrain can be challenging, due to identified surface karst features being only a small part of the karst terrain as a whole; and that this is further complicated by legislation that only focuses on caves and very specific karst features.Since much of the karst terrain cannot easily be assessed, the Board believes it is important that forest professionals take a cautious approach when addressing karst features and utilize karst specialists and the best available information when assessing karst features and prescribing management strategies.