Audit finds marked improvement in forestry on southern Vancouver Island
VICTORIA – Forest companies and government are carrying out good forest practices on Crown lands on southeast Vancouver Island, the Forest Practices Board reported today.
The board examined the forestry activities of Steeves Forest Consulting Ltd., TFL Forest Ltd., Coast Mountain Hardwoods Inc., five woodlot licensees 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 South Island forest district.
The audit area covers 481,000 hectares—about one-tenth of Vancouver Island—extending south along the eastern coast of the island south of Courtenay to Victoria, and including areas around Cowichan Lake, Shawnigan Lake and the Sooke Basin. The audit covered only Crown land, and most of the harvesting in the audit area is carried out on private lands.
The audit found that all audited activities complied with the code, except for one issue involving the South Island forest district. The district was responsible for ensuring proper road maintenance, but had not done so on one section of forest service road, which created an environmental risk to the Shawnigan Lake community watershed. The road was repaired in October 2002, following the audit.
Except for the road maintenance issue, the audit found the South Island forest district is enforcing the code appropriately. The board is concerned, however, that the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection is not as involved in code enforcement as it should be.
“Overall, we’re encouraged by the high level of performance by all the auditees, and by the South Island forest district, in this area,” said acting board chair John Cuthbert. “Considering the size of the area audited, it’s commendable that the only issue is one 900-metre section of road.”
The board audited the South Island forest district’s small business program in 1997. Problems with harvesting and road construction were found at that time. This audit found good performance in those areas during the second audit, demonstrating improved practices by the district.
The audit area was selected randomly and not on the basis of location or level of performance. The audit examined operational planning; harvesting; construction, maintenance and deactivation of roads; silviculture; and fire preparedness activities carried out between May 2001 and May 2002.
The activities audited included:
- Harvesting of six cutblocks.
- Construction of one bridge.
- Maintenance of 57 bridges and major culverts.
- Construction of 19 road sections comprising 6.6 kilometres of road.
- Maintenance of 455 kilometres of road.
The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog, established in 1995, that reports to the public about compliance with the Forest Practices Code and the achievement of its intent. The board’s main roles under the Forest Practices Code 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.
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 356-1586 / 1 800 994-5899
March 20, 2003