Arrow Forest District’s Small Business Program Met Most Code Requirements But Biodiversity Issues Identified In Audit
VICTORIA- A Forest Practices Board audit released today finds that the Ministry of Forests’ Small Business Forest Enterprise Program (SBFEP) in the Arrow Forest District generally complied with Forest Practices Code requirements.
One instance of significant non-compliance was identified. This involved plans to harvest two cutblocks that, in order to maintain biodiversity, should not be harvested.
“The Arrow SBFEP was randomly selected for audit from the Small Business Forest Enterprise Programs in each forest district in the province,” said Board Chair, Keith Moore. “The audit found that, except for the item of significant non-compliance, the forest planning and practices of the Arrow SBFEP complied with Code requirements in all significant respects. The practices in the Arrow SBFEP had a much higher level of compliance than other SBFEPs we have audited.”
The significant non-compliance relates to two cutblocks that were approved in mature and old-growth forest types where no harvesting should have been planned. These two blocks were not consistent with agreed-to biodiversity objectives for the maintenance of mature and old timber. These objectives were developed in the Kootenay Boundary Land Use Plan Implementation Strategy.
“Biodiversity objectives were developed through the land-use planning process and they set public expectations for how areas will be managed. Those objectives must then be carried through in the forest development plan if the public is to have confidence that the agreements reached in the land-use planning process will be implemented on the ground,” said Moore.
The district has advised the Board that the two cutblocks have not been harvested and will be deferred from harvest until old growth management areas have been established across the district.
As with three other Board audits, a problem with old roads was also identified. There are extensive old road systems in the Arrow Forest District that have been used in the past for logging and mining activities. There appears to be no party with legal responsibility under the Code for maintenance or deactivation of these roads. Some of these roads need remediation work or deactivation to prevent impacts to the environment from occurring. As in previous audits, the Board urges government to assess this situation.
The audit examined timber harvesting and road construction, maintenance and deactivation practices, and the related operational plans, under the SBFEP, consisting of:
- 33 cutblocks harvested;
- 68 salvage and cash sale cutblocks harvested;
- 38 km of road constructed;
- 83 km of road maintenance; and
- 22.9 km of semi-permanent road deactivation.
The Arrow SBFEP operates within the Arrow Forest District, which is located in the West Kootenay region of southeastern British Columbia and includes the Arrow Lakes and the Slocan Valley. The nearest major town in the district is Castlegar. The SBFEP is a program under which the Ministry of Forests awards timber sale licences to small business licensees. The Ministry of Forests and the individual licensees each have separate but interrelated roles and responsibilities within the program. The district is responsible for managing the SBFEP and ensuring that the licensee has complied with the Code.
The Arrow SBFEP has an allowable annual cut of approximately 158,000 cubic metres with operations scattered throughout the district. The actual volume cut during the audit period- September 1, 1997 to October 2, 1998-was approximately 173,000 cubic metres.
Created in 1995, the Forest Practices Board is BC’s independent watchdog for sound forest practices. The Board provides British Columbians with objective and independent assessments of the state of forest planning and practices in the province, compliance with the Code, and the achievement of its intent. The Board’s main roles are: auditing forest practices, undertaking investigations in response to public complaints, undertaking special investigations of any Code related forestry issues, participating in administrative reviews and appeals and providing reports on Board activities, findings and recommendations.
– 30 –
June 15, 1999