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.
This special investigation examined whether the roles and responsibilities of woodlot licensees, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, woodlot federation/association, and forest professionals in the Kootenay Lake Timber Supply Area (TSA) are clearly defined and understood, and are being carried out in a manner that ensures the woodlot licensees are complying with forest practices legislation.
Investigators assessed the activities of 15 woodlot licensees in the Kootenay Lake TSA portion of the Selkirk Natural Resource District for compliance with FRPA and the Wildfire Act.
This special investigation will assess if the mechanisms available under FRPA and associated IWMS guidance are adequate for maintaining species at risk habitat. Northern Goshawk will be used as a case study to evaluate both legal and voluntary measures to maintain suitable habitat for Northern Goshawk and their prey on the coast and in the interior.
The Board received a complaint about harvesting a young stand of trees that had been treated to increase the volume and value of the trees. The complainant was concerned that harvesting this young stand may impact timber supply and was not consistent with good forest stewardship or sound ecological principles.
The Board believed that one stand alone is not significant, so it decided to carry out a special investigation looking at the practice of harvesting young stands across five coastal timber supply areas (TSAs): the Arrowsmith, Fraser, Soo, Strathcona and Sunshine Coast.
The investigation examined the extent of young stand harvesting and the amount of harvesting in treated stands.
This is a Board special investigation to determine whether the parties who construct resource roads on steep terrain are meeting legal requirements of FRPA and following professional standards of practice and the related guidelines of the professional regulatory bodies. Are the roads stable, safe for industrial and public use, constructed according to plan, and is the potential for damage to the environment being mitigated?
In 2015 and 2016 the Board reviewed construction of 26 steep road segments in five resource districts across the province. The investigation found that while most of the road segments had qualified registered professional involvement and met the legal requirements, only 10 followed all of the professional practice guidelines. The Board also found that 6 of the road segments were considered structurally unsafe, and that 5 of the 6 were constructed in a manner that did not reduce the likelihood of a landslide or ensure protection of the environment. None of these road segments involved a qualified professional in the road design or construction.
These findings reflect all sizes and types of forest licensees—there is no trend.
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.
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.