Forest stewardship plans need improvement

VICTORIA – An investigation of forest stewardship plans, the primary plan governing forest activities on public land, concludes that most of these plans do not meet the public’s needs, are not enforceable by government and provide little in the way of innovative forest management.

“The board previously looked at forest stewardship plans in 2006 and found numerous problems, so we wanted to see if they had improved since then,” said board chair Tim Ryan. “Unfortunately, we found there has been no improvement in that time.”

The investigation looked at a sample of 43 forest stewardship plans from all regions of the province, prepared by a variety of tenure holders, from major corporations to small communities. Forest practices on the ground were not examined.

In order to gain government approval, the plans are supposed to contain measurable and verifiable results and strategies and be consistent with legally established government objectives for forest values. The investigation found that most of the plans contain results or strategies that do not demonstrate consistency with objectives, and that all have significant problems with measurability or verifiability. Many of the plans cover vast and overlapping areas of the province, and were written using legal language that makes them very difficult for public understanding or review.

“We are recommending that government not renew or approve any forest stewardship plans that don’t meet the standards set out in the Forest and Range Practices Act,” said Ryan. “We also recommend that the public consultation process be improved and that professionals who prepare forest stewardship plans, and officials who approve them, are apprised of their responsibilities regarding these standards.”

Forest stewardship plans are the only operational plan that must be made available for public review and approved by government. Once approved, a plan is in place for 5 years, but that time period can be extended indefinitely without any further public consultation. Many of these plans have been extended once already, and a large number of the plans are due for extension or renewal in the next year.

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board can investigate and report on current forestry and range issues and make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.

More information can be obtained by contacting:

Darlene Oman
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 213-4705 / 1 800 994-5899