Forest Practices Board Completes Special Investigation of Forest Development Planning in Queen Charlotte Islands
Victoria – The Forest Practices Board has found that several factors combined to create serious problems in forestry planning in the Queen Charlotte Islands Forest District during an eight month period following the June 1995 implementation of the Forest Practices Code. The finding is part of a special investigation report released by the Board today.
“Balancing Code requirements for conservation of forest resources with continuity of timber supply called for unusual measures, given the extraordinary circumstances in the district at the time,” said Cindy Pearce, Board vice-chair during the investigation.
The unusual measures included planning delays, accelerated harvesting schedules, and frequent amendments to plans. “These breakdowns in the planning process made it difficult for the Ministry of Environment, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Council of the Haida Nation to provide informed comment to the Ministry of Forests on forest development plans,” said Pearce.
A number of factors contributed to the problems, including uncertainty about new Code requirements, a shortage of staff and specialists in the district, and a shortage of approved cutting permits that resulted in logging shutdowns and unemployment. MacMillan Bloedel, and to a lesser extent, the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program had the most serious problems meeting Code planning requirements.
“There is still some uncertainty about the current state of forest development planning in the Queen Charlotte Islands and the Board has asked for public clarification of the current situation,” said Pearce. “The Board also recommended the district clarify its referral process, which provides government agencies, the Haida and the public with opportunities to review plans, to be consistent with the Code.” A number of other recommendations are included in the Board’s report.
The Board launched the special investigation following a complaint from the Council of the Haida Nation about the state of operational planning in the Queen Charlotte Islands Forest District. In the report, the Board also concludes that planning disruptions made it difficult for the Haida Nation to ensure their interests were adequately protected.
The investigation focused on the activities of the four major agreement holders in the Queen Charlotte Islands Forest District, the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program operated by the Ministry of Forests, and the government agencies responsible for reviewing and approving plans. The Board considered whether the process for submission, review and approval of cutblocks, between June 15, 1995 and February 15, 1996, met Code requirements.
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.
March 9, 1999