Forest Practices Board to Hold Public Meeting in Prince George
VICTORIA – The Forest Practices Board will hold a public meeting in Prince George on Tuesday, November 3, 1998, at the Prince George Civic Centre at 7:30 pm. The Board will make a brief presentation and then invite questions and comments from the public.
“The Board is responsible for reporting to the public on how the Forest Practices Code is working and how well industry and government are following the Code,” said the Chair of the Forest Practices Board, Keith Moore, “What we have seen in the past three years leads us to conclude that there has been a general improvement in forest practices in British Columbia and this improvement is associated with the introduction of the Code.”
“Our audits and investigations have found generally high levels of compliance with the Code, but there are exceptions,” said Moore. “We recognize that the Code is continually evolving and improving and where we have identified problems, we have made recommendations which contribute to the improvement of forest practices.”
The Board places a high priority on holding meetings in different communities around the province. It gives the Board an opportunity to hear the public’s views about the Code and to explain the Board’s findings and observations. The Board has held similar meetings in Terrace, Port McNeil and Kelowna, and previously visited Prince George in 1996.
The Board is currently involved in a number of matters in the Prince George Forest Region. Three complaints from the public are under investigation: a complaint about the effects of logging on the visual quality of Williston and Carbon Creeks; a complaint that a forest development plan in Herrick Creek does not meet Code requirements for cutblock size, green-up and stream identification; and a complaint that operational plans in the Robson Valley Forest District permit excessive clearcutting and fail to address biodiversity concerns. The Board is also conducting a special investigation of forest planning and practices in the Fort St. James Forest District, in response to a number of complaints on that issue.
In 1997, the Board released the results of an audit of Finlay Forest Industries in MacKenzie. Audits of Plateau Forest Products in Vanderhoof, and Canfor’s Fort St. James Division have been completed but not yet released. The final report for the Plateau audit is expected by year-end, and the Canfor audit should be released in early 1999.
The Board has also been involved in a number of appeals of administrative penalties and orders to the Forest Appeals Commission, made by licensees in the Prince George Forest Region. Issues in these appeals have included: interpretation of the definition of a “stream”, due diligence as a defence when a sub-contractor contravenes the Code, redundant penalties, double jeopardy, government actions contributing to a contravention of the Code, and the right to be heard when a remediation order is issued.
The Forest Practices Board is an independent agency established in 1995 that provides reports to three ministers and the public about compliance with the Code and the achievement of its intent. Communicating with the public is one of its key roles. Other important responsibilities are investigating Code related complaints from the public, auditing forest practices, conducting special investigations of Code related forestry issues, participating in administrative reviews and appeals; and providing reports to the public and government on Board activities, findings and recommendations.
October 27, 1998