More diligence required when logging near threatened species
VICTORIA – Forest companies should go beyond simple compliance and exercise increased diligence when logging near threatened species, according to a Forest Practices Board report released today.
In 2003, the Chilliwack Field Naturalists complained to the Board that Cattermole Timber had destroyed a population of tall bugbane, an extremely rare and nationally endangered plant, and damaged a stream during a logging operation near Chilliwack.
The board’s investigation found no evidence of destruction of tall bugbane, that the damage to the stream was not deliberate, that the licensee complied with forest practices legislation and that government enforcement was appropriate. However, the board also found that the licensee and government officials could have done more to reduce the risk to tall bugbane, including voluntarily searching for additional information and conducting field inspections to confirm that tall bugbane would not be impacted by the licensee’s activities.
“Simply obeying the law does not always guarantee sound forest practices,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “In this case, which involved a rare species, the board believes the licensee should have used a publicly-available government database and done some additional field assessments to minimize the risk to that species.”
The Forest Practices Code regulated the operations of the licensee for the period under investigation. The code required that forest resources be adequately managed and conserved. Under the new Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA), there is no such standard; the test is simply whether the licensee’s results are consistent with broad objectives set by government.
“As we move towards implementation of the results-based FRPA, the board will expect licensees to focus on key FRPA values such as preserving biodiversity in our public forests,” said Fraser. “Clear communication among government officials and stakeholders and a willingness to work together will be essential to successful conservation of species at risk.”
The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog that reports to the public about compliance with the Forest Practices Code and the achievement of its intent. The board’s mandate has been retained under FRPA. The board’s main roles under FRPA are:
- Auditing forest practices of government and licence holders on public lands.
- Auditing government enforcement of FRPA.
- Investigating public complaints.
- Undertaking special investigations of forestry issues.
- Participating in administrative appeals.
- Providing reports on board activities, findings and recommendations.
- Note to editors: Backgrounder attached
This news release and more information about the board are available on the Forest Practices Board Web site atwww.fpb.gov.bc.ca or by contacting:
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250-356-1586 or 1-800-994-5899
February 10, 2005