Audit of South Island Forest District’s Small Business Program Released by Forest Practices Board

VICTORIA – The Ministry of Forests’ Small Business Forest Enterprise Program (SBFEP) in the South Island Forest District complied with the Code in some areas, but showed poor performance in others, according to a Forest Practices Board audit released today.

The audit examined the full range of forest planning and practices for compliance with the Code. “Operational planning, silviculture and fire protection practices complied with the Code in all significant respects,” said Board Chair, Keith Moore. “However, significant non-compliance was identified in some timber harvesting and road construction practices.”

The non-compliance involved unauthorized timber harvesting and poor marking of cutblock boundaries. The audit also found reserves along streams that were narrower than the Code requires, and loss of wildlife habitat due to instances of harvesting in riparian management areas. In one instance, one end of a bridge was placed 15 metres from where it was planned, resulting in more material than necessary being exposed and an increased risk of sediment entering a fish stream.

The audit was unable to conclude whether road maintenance and deactivation practices complied with the Code because the South Island Forest District could not identify all roads that are the responsibility of the SBFEP to maintain and deactivate. “The lack of accurate records for the SBFEP roads makes it impossible for the district to know where to maintain and deactivate roads, and therefore to meet its Code obligations,” said Moore.

Some of the roads that were identified and examined in the audit were not adequately maintained or deactivated. Roads were not inspected on a timely basis and sediment has entered fish streams as a result of erosion. Other problems identified include plugged culverts, missing and ineffective cross ditches to direct water away from the roads, and cracks in the road surface which indicate a risk of future landslides. The district has advised the Board that it is striving to improve its records and its procedures for inspection and scheduling of road repairs.

The Board has made a number of recommendations to the district to improve its procedures and ensure that operations under the SBFEP comply with the Code in the future.

The audit examined all operational planning, timber harvesting, silviculture and fire protection practices, and construction, maintenance and deactivation of roads carried out under the SBFEP between May 1996 and June 1997.

Created in 1995, the Board is BC’s independent watchdog for sound forest practices. The Board reports to the public and government about compliance with the Forest Practices 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.

Forest Practices Board
Phone: (250) 387-7964