Poor Communication and Planning Led to Complaints about Logging on Sunshine Coast says Forest Practices Board
Victoria – Today, the Forest Practices Board released the results of its investigations of two complaints about logging activities in a rural area near Homesite Creek, approximately 20 kilometres from Sechelt. Local residents were opposed to the logging, and the site was the subject of protests when operations began in January 1998.
One complaint asserted that the logging company did not have required fire-fighting equipment at the site during high fire hazard conditions. The Board found that the company met Code requirements.
The second complaint alleged that the approved logging plans for the area were inadequate and the logging contractor contravened the Forest Practices Code during operations. The Board found that most of the Ministry of Forest’s planning and enforcement and most of the licensee’s practices on the timber sale met Forest Practices Code requirements. However, operations took place when they were not supposed to and some road practices did not meet Code requirements. The Ministry of Forests failed to identify the non-compliance, despite carrying out a number of inspections.
The Board had received an earlier complaint, involving the same site, in March 1997. It was investigated and a final report was released in February 1998. That complaint involved the adequacy of the silviculture prescription for the site, which the Board found to be acceptable. “These three complaints raised technical issues with Code compliance, but our investigations revealed a larger underlying issue,” said Board Chair, Keith Moore. “When logging operations are planned near people’s homes, there is a need for open communication, good planning and sound practices, which did not happen in this case. There was poor communication between the Ministry of Forests, local government and local residents about what was planned for this site, and a lack of consideration of innovative harvesting methods.” Moore added, “The forest service and licensees need to demonstrate more care and attention when carrying out operations in rural neighborhoods. This situation led to these complaints and has diminished the public’s confidence in forest management, particularly under the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program.”
Many local residents were under the impression that the regional district or the provincial government planned to make the area into a park. That never happened and, instead, the Ministry of Forests made the site available for harvesting under the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program. The lack of communication about plans for the site led to both the protests by local residents, and the complaints that were made to the Board.
The Board recommends that district staff devote sufficient time to carefully review all operational plans, and be more diligent during field inspection to identify non-compliance with the Code. The Board also recommends that the Ministry of Forests be proactive in its communications with the public when forestry operations are planned in rural neighborhoods.
Created in 1995, the Forest Practices Board is BC’s independent watchdog for sound forest practices. The Board provides British Columbians with objective and independent assessments of the state of forest planning and practices in the province, compliance with the 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.
May 13, 1999