Investigation Found Northwood’s Forest Plan Should Not Have Been Approved
Victoria – The Forest Practices Board released an investigation report today involving Northwood Pulp and Timber Ltd.’s forest development plan for an area near McGregor River, 120 kilometres east of Prince George. The board found that the Ministry of Forests district manager should not have approved Northwood’s 1997-2001 Forest Development Plan.
In January 1998, Prince George Forest Watch complained to the board that Northwood’s forest development plan, provided to the public for review and comment, was missing key information. The group claimed that streams and lakes were not classified and that the plan failed to identify terrain stability, heritage resources, watershed assessments, visual impacts and wildlife resources. Forest Watch maintained the plan should not have been approved by the district manager.
“The board’s investigation found the complainant’s concerns were valid. Licensees must ensure that forest development plans provided for public review contain sufficient, accurate information that meets the content requirements of the Forest Practices Code. In this case, the opportunity for public review was not adequate because essential information was missing,” said Keith Moore, board chair.
The district manager required the licensee to include missing information in the plan before he approved it. However, the board found that the final approved plan did not classify some large streams next to proposed cutblocks.
The board concluded that the district manager made an error when he approved a plan that had been inadequate for public review and still did not have all the required information when he approved it.
Forest Watch also claimed that the district manager had approved the forest development plan even though it did not meet code requirements for cutblock size.
The board found that many cutblocks in the plan exceeded 60 hectares, the maximum normally allowed in the Prince George Forest Region under the code. There was little analysis or justification provided by Northwood and limited explanation for the approval given by the district manager. The board found his explanation was inadequate, given the number of large cutblocks approved.
The board made several recommendations to address the problems identified in the investigation.
The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest practices. The board reports to the public and government about compliance with the Forest Practices Code and the achievement of its intent.
The board’s main roles, established under the Forest Practices Code, are auditing forest practices, investigating 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.
December 21, 1999