Board to conduct area-based audit on southern Vancouver Island

VICTORIA -The Forest Practices Board will conduct an area-based audit this spring in the South Island forest district.

“In an area-based audit we examine all activities in an area subject to the Forest Practices Code, rather than focusing on a single licensee or government forestry program,” said board chair Bill Cafferata. “It gives us a broader sense of how a full range of practices, such as logging, mining, or oil and gas exploration, affect forest resources.”

The selected audit area makes up the east side of the South Island forest district. It extends southeast from the Campbell River forest district boundary, east of Port Alberni and Labour Day Lake, to Shawnigan Lake and the Sooke Basin, including the area surrounding Cowichan Lake. The area is defined by 14 draft landscape units.

This full-scope audit will determine the compliance of operational planning and forest practices of Forest Act and Range Act agreement holders located within the audit area. It will also examine the appropriateness of government’s enforcement of the Forest Practices Code. This audit will be unusual for the board in that the area is intensively developed and auditable public land is a small percentage of the audit area. The area also contains many community watersheds.

Companies being audited include major and small tenure holders, as well as Crown woodlot licence holders. Auditors will look at a wide range of forest practices, including logging; road construction, maintenance and deactivation; fire protection; silviculture and planning.

The audit will also examine the enforcement practices of the Ministry of Forests, the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection, and the Ministry of Energy and Mines to see if they have appropriately enforced the code.

The board is required to carry out periodic independent audits to see if government and forest companies are complying with the code. The audit area was chosen randomly and not on the basis of location or level of performance.

The nine-member audit team of professional foresters, chartered accountants and engineers will spend two weeks this May working in the field. Once the fieldwork is done, the audit team will report its findings to the board. Any party that may be adversely affected by the audit findings will have a chance to respond. The board’s final report and recommendations will then be released to the public and the government.

This year, the majority of board audits will be area-based. To date, the board has completed compliance audits of 45 forest companies and Ministry of Forests small business forest enterprise program operations. Twenty-three audits were clean, meaning the forest planning and practices met code requirements in all significant respects. Twenty-two audits were qualified, meaning that there was some significant non-compliance with the code.

The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog, established in 1995, that publishes reports 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.

Bill Cafferata,Chair
Forest Practices Board
Phone: (250) 387-7964

Steve Hughes
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 387-7964
1 800 994-5899

April 26, 2002