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 its two-part project on conserving fish habitat under FRPA, the Board describes how the effective protection of fish habitat on the forest and range landbase is dependant on detailed planning of forestry and range activities, ensuring that practices on the ground protect fish habitat and that comprehensive monitoring is in place to continually improve practices. The part 1 report, published in 2018, describes government’s role in the protection of fish habitat.
In part 2, Board investigators selected five watersheds across the province known to provide important fish habitat. Investigators looked at planning for the protection of fish habitat, monitoring and how well forest licensees and ranchers are providing for the protection of fish habitat on the ground. Practices examined include maintaining fish passage, sediment management, riparian management and range use.
As a follow-up to the Board’s 2014 Special Investigation of Bridge Planning, Design and Construction, the Board examined 269 newly constructed bridges and 59 wood box culverts in 5 natural resource districts in the summer and fall of 2019.
While safety and protection of the environment improved over the 2014 results, there is still work to do to improve planning and professional assurance of structures.
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.