Forest Practices Board releases its first coastal audit
The Forest Practices Board today released the report for its first audit on the coast – an audit of the road and timber harvesting practices on Tree Farm Licence 45 held by International Forest Products Ltd. The licence is located in the coastal mainland area north of Campbell River.
The audit examined the road and timber harvesting practices of International Forest Products for compliance with the Forest Practices Code. The audit included timber harvesting and road construction, maintenance, and deactivation practices carried out in the licence area from 1 January to 15 September 1996.
The Board’s audit work included assessments of 14 cutblocks and approximately 90 kilometres of road in two different operating areas of the tree farm licence. The audit found that International Forest Products Ltd. was in compliance, in all significant respects, with the timber harvesting requirements of the Code. In one operating area, International Forest Products was in compliance, in all significant respects, with the road requirements. In the other operating area, the audit identified three events of significant non-compliance associated with road construction and maintenance requirements.
Overall, the Board concluded that, with the exception of the three events of significant non-compliance, International Forest Products Ltd. was, in all other significant respects, in compliance with the Code’s timber harvesting and road construction, maintenance and deactivation requirements.
The events of significant non-compliance were confined to the following:
- During road construction, felled right-of-way logs were supported by trees growing on a very steep slope.
- Boulders and debris were placed on some of these logs which created a high likelihood of a slide.
- Failure to undertake survey and design work recommended in a professional engineer’s report for a rock bluff endangered the safety of workers.
- On a 700 metre section of road, maintenance of the road surface and ditch was inadequate. At the time of the audit, these conditions were causing surface erosion and created a likelihood of a slide.
- International Forest Products has advised the Board that the right-of-way logs and the boulders and debris on the steep slope were removed in October 1996. They have also advised the Board that with respect to the engineer’s report, they undertook a number of other measures to minimize the risk to workers. As well, they advised the Board that a plan for regular road and ditch maintenance is in place.
The audit was conducted by a team of six including foresters, forest engineers and auditors. A fisheries biologist and a terrain specialist were also involved. The team spent two weeks in the field.
The licence was selected randomly, not on the basis of location or performance. The total area of the licence is about 243,000 hectares, of which only 35,000 hectares are operable because of steep, mountainous, unstable terrain.
Three other audits were conducted by the Forest Practices Board in the fall of 1996. The Finlay Forest Industries report was released in February and the other reports will be released soon. The Board expects to undertake between 10 and 15 audits in 1997, beginning in the spring.
The Forest Practices Board is an independent agency established in 1995 that provides reports to the public and three ministers about compliance with the Code and the achievement of its intent. Audits of forest practices and of the appropriateness of government enforcement is one of its key responsibilities. Other important roles include investigation of complaints from the public about forest planning, forest practices or enforcement of the Forest Practices Code, as well as special investigations, special reports and participation in administrative reviews and appeals.
March 24, 1997