Timely action needed to fulfill Nisga’a forestry commitments
VICTORIA – The provincial government needs to act promptly to ensure its forestry obligations under the Nisga’a treaty are fulfilled, the Forest Practices Board reported today in its fourth compliance audit of forestry operations on Nisga’a lands.
While all auditees were found to be in compliance with legislative and treaty requirements, the report raised a number of concerns with respect to the timely fulfillment of government’s treaty obligations for road and bridge maintenance, replanting, and logging on incomplete cutblocks.
“The audit identified a general deterioration in the state of the road network on Nisga’a lands and other concerns related to low levels of logging activity, ” said board chair Bruce Fraser. “The government has a treaty obligation to bring the forest lands on Nisga’a territory up to agreed standards. Environmental risks and remediation costs are likely to increase in the coming months unless government takes proactive steps to ensure its obligations are met.”
The board is recommending that a review of outstanding road and bridge maintenance obligations be conducted and an action plan be implemented by May 10, 2005, to upgrade, decommission or remove access to any structures that do not meet government standards. Further actions on logging and replanting obligations are recommended for completion by Aug. 31, 2005.
The report requests that the provincial government advise the board by Aug. 31, 2005, of the actions taken to address these recommendations. The fifth and final board audit of forest planning and practices and Forest Practices Code enforcement on Nisga’a lands will be conducted in September 2005. During the course of this audit, the board will also assess the actions taken by the provincial government to address the report’s recommendations.
The audit examined the activities and obligations of five auditees: New Skeena Forest Products Inc., formerly known as Skeena Cellulose Inc.; Sim Gan Forest Corporation; West Fraser Mills Ltd.; BC Timber Sales, Skeena Business Area; and the Kalum Forest District Manager, for the period of July 19, 2003, to July 9, 2004. The audit found that auditees complied in all significant aspects with the code and agreement requirements for this period.
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.
This news release and more information about the board are available on the Forest Practices Board Web site at www.fpb.gov.bc.ca or by contacting:
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250-356-1586 or 1-800-994-5899
February 3, 2005