Government addressing New Skeena obligations on Nisga’a Lands

VICTORIA – The provincial government is making good progress in addressing significant non-compliance by New Skeena Forest Products on Nisga’a lands, the Forest Practices Board reported today.

The board’s fifth audit of forest planning and practices on Nisga’a lands found that all licensees apart from New Skeena were compliant with Forest Practices Code and Nisga’a final agreement obligations.

In previous audit reports, the board had warned that government would need to take action to address outstanding treaty obligations, in the context of New Skeena’s continuing bankruptcy proceedings.  The current audit found significant non-compliance by New Skeena for silviculture, harvesting, road and bridge maintenance and road deactivation obligations.

“We had urged the Ministry of Forests and Range to develop an action plan to address New Skeena’s serious non-compliance, and we are pleased to report they have acted on our recommendations,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “The board congratulates the ministry for working co-operatively with the Nisga’a Lisims Government to make sure the remaining problems are identified and resolved in a timely manner.”

The audit examined the activities of five auditees: New Skeena Forest Products Inc., formerly known as Skeena Cellulose Inc.; Sim Gan Forest Corporation; West Fraser Mills Ltd.; BC Timber Sales, Skeena Business Area; and the Kalum Forest District Manager, for the period of July 9, 2004 to May 10, 2005.

This fifth compliance audit completes the board’s obligation under the final agreement to audit forest planning and practices, and government enforcement of forest practices legislation, on Nisga’a lands for the first five years of the agreement’s implementation.

“While our formal auditing role on Nisga’a lands is now complete, the board will review government’s performance in addressing the remaining New Skeena forestry obligations and we will report on this issue in 2008,” said Fraser.

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:

  • audits forest and range practices on public lands;
  • audits appropriateness of government enforcement;
  • investigates public complaints;
  • undertakes special investigations of current forestry issues;
  • participates in administrative appeals; and
  • makes recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.

Erik Kaye

Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250-356-1586 or 1-800-994-5899