Audit Examines 25 Licensees, Finds Good Forest Practices

VICTORIA – Forestry operators and ranchers are carrying out good forest practices in an area near Merritt, but government’s enforcement of the Forest Practices Code could be improved, the Forest Practices Board reported today.

The board examined the forestry activities of six forest companies, three woodlot licensees, 15 range tenure holders and the Ministry of Forests’ small business forest enterprise program, as well as government’s enforcement of the Forest Practices Code in a portion of the former Merritt forest district (now part of the Cascades forest district). The forest companies audited were Ardew Wood Products Ltd., Aspen Planers Ltd., Nicola Pacific Forest Products Ltd., Princeton Forest Products Ltd., Tolko Industries Ltd. and Weyerhaeuser Co. Ltd.

“We are encouraged by the good forest practices we saw, especially considering the large number of licensees that operate and were audited in the area,” said acting board chair Liz Osborn. “We were mostly satisfied with the Ministry of Forests’ enforcement of the code, but found once again that the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection should be more involved in code enforcement.”

While the Ministry of Forests’ performance in board audits has seen steady improvement, this audit found two gaps in the ministry’s enforcement of the code. Those gaps were the lack of inspections for district manager responsibilities and for lower-risk operations. Neither of these weaknesses caused environmental harm, but the board made suggestions to the ministry to carry out a minimum number of inspections of those activities.

The board was more concerned that the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection is not enforcing the code in the audit area. This is the third area-based audit completed by the board, and in each the board has raised concerns that the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection is not fulfilling its commitment to enforce the code.

The audit area is the Allison-Missezula draft landscape unit in the south-central portion of the former Merritt forest district. The 67,300-hectares area makes up just over six per cent of the former district.

The audit area was selected at random and not on the basis of location or level of performance. The audit examined operational planning; harvesting; construction, maintenance and deactivation of roads; silviculture; fire preparedness activities; and government enforcement of the code, all carried out between July 1, 2001 and July 18, 2002.

The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog established in 1995 that publishes reports about compliance with forest practices legislation and the achievement of its intent. The board’s main roles are:

  • Auditing forest practices of government and licence holders on public lands.
  • Auditing government enforcement of the code.
  • Investigating public complaints.
  • Undertaking special investigations of code-related forestry issues.
  • Participating in administrative reviews and appeals.
  • Providing reports on board activities, findings and recommendations.

Darlene Dahl

Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 356-1340 / 1 800 994-5899