Logging Approval Overturned For Over 50 North Coast Cutblocks
Victoria – A review panel has upheld a request by the Forest Practices Board to overturn government approval of over 50 cutblocks in the north Coast area. This Forest Practices Code decision affects International Forest Products (Interfor) operations in a forest licence in the Scotia Creek area east of Prince Rupert and around Surf Inlet south of Hartley Bay.
The Board appealed the Ministry of Forests’ approval of the Interfor forest development plan because the information presented created public confusion about what was going to be logged. Among other things, misleading information had appeared in the Prince Rupert Daily News in a letter to the editor. This letter was from a local resident who had relied upon inaccurate maps in the proposed plan.
“The review panel ruled that forest development plans need to accurately describe the forest operations planned. This is important for the public so they know exactly what is proposed and are able to respond before plans are approved,” said Mike Wyeth, Forest Practices Board executive director. “This case illustrates the public watchdog role of the board.” The plan defined over 50 cutblocks as being “for information only” and thus not officially proposed for approval. Despite this, those cutblocks ended up being approved for logging by the Ministry of Forests district manager. Although some documents indicated the true status of these cutblocks, the official maps given to the public and government did not.
Since the requirements for forest development plans had been breached, the panel reversed the approval of the cutblocks, stating, “…the maps cannot be said to be describing the cutblocks proposed for harvesting.” The panel ruled that because the plan’s maps did not accurately describe the status of the cutblocks, the requirements of the Forest Practices Code had been not been met.
The 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 are: auditing forest practices, undertaking investigations in response to 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 7, 1999