Report Finds Limited Implementation of Measures to Protect Biodiversity
VICTORIA – The provincial government’s biodiversity strategy under the Forest Practices Code is applied unevenly across the province, and key on-the-ground measures are not being implemented in many areas, according to a Forest Practices Board study released today.
The study surveyed government ministry staff responsible for implementing the biodiversity strategy under the Code. The study found that there was no monitoring of the implementation of the strategy, and that the future of the strategy under the new Forest and Range Practices Act is not clear.
Ten specific biodiversity elements were rated in the study. In general, administrative measures such as mapping and defining zones were fully implemented; on-site forestry practices such as setting aside reserves for streams and wildlife trees were also implemented; however, key on the-ground conservation measures such as achieving a diversity of forest ages to mimic natural patterns and maintaining connections between habitats were not implemented in a majority of areas.
“We found thorough implementation of the biodiversity strategy in only 6 out of 39 forest districts across the province,” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “Lack of clarity on responsibilities of resource ministries, pressure on timber supply and different interpretations of biodiversity objectives were all cited by ministry staff as impediments to implementation of the biodiversity strategy.”
The board’s report covers the period from the implementation of the code in 1995 through early 2003, and does not reflect the new Forest and Range Practices Act, which took effect earlier this year.
The report presents several recommendations to government, including clarifying the future of the province’s strategy to conserve biodiversity under the new Forest and Range Practices Act, updating the scientific research that supports the strategy, and establishing a coordinated system to monitor the status of biodiversity conservation measures across the province.
“As we move to a results-based approach to forest legislation, it is essential that the government set a clear direction for the future of the biodiversity strategy,” said Fraser. “This report assessed implementation of biodiversity measures, but we have not yet looked at the effectiveness of these measures at actually conserving biodiversity on the ground. We are encouraged by recent initiatives by government, industry and environmental organizations to develop specific and measurable indicators for biodiversity, which will allow the board to evaluate the effectiveness of biodiversity measures in future reports.”
Biodiversity is a scientific term that designates the variety of wildlife and plant species, habitats and ecosystems needed to support plant and animal life. The preamble of the 1995 Forest Practices Code recognized the importance of biodiversity to British Columbians, and subsequent government policy established a strategy and guidelines for biodiversity. Internationally, Canada has made commitments to preserve biodiversity under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
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 the new Forest and Range Practices Act (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.
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 356-1586 / 1 800 994-5899
March 18, 2004