Some Code Non-Compliance Found In Audit Of Port McNeill Forest District’s Small Business Program
ICTORIA – A Forest Practices Board audit released today finds that the Ministry of Forests Small Business Forest Enterprise Program (SBFEP) in the Port McNeill Forest District generally complied with Forest Practices Code requirements. Significant non-compliance was identified in timber harvesting, bridge construction and operational planning.
“Most of the planning and practices in the Port McNeill District complied with Code requirements. However, the number of non-compliance situations is higher than in most of the other audits we have done,” said Keith Moore, Board Chair.
The audit found problems with logging activities around streams in 9 of the 15 cutblocks examined. In addition, construction of two bridges over streams did not follow approved plans and impacted coho salmon habitat. The Board also found that plans did not address the potential for wind damage along cutblock boundaries after logging.
“We are starting to observe a pattern of relatively poor performance in the small business program. There have been problems in three out of four SBFEP audits that the Board has released within the past year. The ministry has the responsibility, not only for operational planning in the SBFEP, but also for ensuring that forest practices carried out by the SBFEP licensees comply with the Code. They need to do a better job,” said Moore.
The Board report states that the forest development plans for the Port McNeill SBFEP contained little or no information to describe wildlife and other non-timber resources or to explain how those resources would be protected in areas planned for logging.
“These are important forest values, and consistent with the intent of the Code, measures to protect them should be included in forest development plans. However, because of delays in implementing higher level land use plans, there is actually no legal requirement that forest development plans include this information. Government needs to take a leadership role to ensure that measures to protect wildlife, biodiversity and other non-timber values are included in the operational plans for logging and road construction,” said Moore.
Since 1996, the Board has released 21 audits of forest planning and practices-16 forest companies and 5 Ministry of Forests Small Business Forest Enterprise Programs.
The Port McNeill SBFEP was randomly selected for audit from the Small Business Forest Enterprise Programs in each of the 40 forest districts in the province. The audit examined the activities of the Port McNeill SBFEP in the areas of operational planning (such as forest development plans, silviculture prescriptions and logging plans), timber harvesting, silviculture, fire protection, and construction, maintenance and deactivation of roads. The operating area comprises the northern portion of Vancouver Island, numerous islands in Johnstone Strait and the adjacent mainland coast from the vicinity of Knight Inlet north to the vicinity of Seymour Inlet. The Port McNeill Forest District includes the towns of Port McNeill, Port Hardy and Port Alice.
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.