Questions & Answers
Q: I have concerns about logging on private land, can you help?
The Forest Practices Board does not have jurisdiction on private land, except for some woodlots and tree farm licences. We recommend that you contact the Managed Forest Council, they may be able to help if the land is owned by one of their members. If logging is within city or Regional District boundaries then you could contact local government. Otherwise, you may consider writing to your MLA.
Q: Do you know why people are working outdoors when the fire danger is extreme?
The Ministry of Forests has authority under the Wildfire Act to restrict areas and activities based on wildfire risks. The Wildfire Regulation restricts the timing of industrial activity based on the fire danger rating, specific to local weather stations in British Columbia. The restrictions are described in Schedule 3 of the Wildfire Regulation.
For more information please contact your local fire centre:
Q: Do you have information on recreation sites?
Information is available at: http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca
Q: Do you have information on campsites located in BC?
For campsites and other outdoor recreation information you can visit:
BC Parks: https://camping.bcparks.ca/
Parks Canada: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/voyage-travel/reserve
Q: Where do I apply to become a wildfire fighter?
Information is available on the BC Wildfire Service’s website: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status/employment-and-contracts
Q: I witnessed a forestry truck driving recklessly, who can I report this to?
You can report it to the nearest natural resource district office: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry/managing-our-forest-resources/ministry-of-forests-lands-and-natural-resource-operations-region-district-contacts
Q: Where can I obtain a permit to cut trees for firewood? Christmas trees?
Firewood and Christmas tree permits have mixed availability based on region. Free-use permits can be downloaded from the Ministry of Forests website.
Christmas trees: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/natural-resource-use/natural-resource-permits/christmas-tree-permits
Q: How do I find out which company is logging in my area?
And how do I know they have permits to cut down the trees?
This information can be obtained through the nearest forest district office:
Q: How are we doing? What are your audits and investigations finding out?
Our work usually finds that forest and range operators are meeting the requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act, although there are still some areas where improvements are needed. We have also found gaps in the legal requirements themselves, and have recommended government make changes to better ensure sound forest practices that address all forest values. The most common areas where we find non-compliance are conducting and documenting fire hazard assessments following logging, and reporting and tracking activities in government’s databases. One of the biggest gaps in the legislation that we have seen is requirements to preventing sediment from entering watercourses and impacting drinking water and fish habitat. We also recognize that climate change is affecting the land in significant ways and is creating new challenges, particularly for water and wildfire management. Government’s recent amendments to the Forest and Range Practices Act may address some of the issues the Board has identified and we will continue to monitor and recommend further improvements to the legal requirements and to forest and range practices in the future.
Q: Who is the Board? Who appoints the members?
The Board is made up of six people—a full-time Chair and five part-time members. Board members are appointed by Cabinet, based on their background and experience in forestry related areas. In addition, the Board has 17 full-time staff members, representing a range of professional backgrounds in forestry, biology, law, and geoscience. The Board is not a stakeholder board—it does not represent sectors.
Q: Who can I contact to discuss my concerns?
To contact the Board:
- Greater Victoria: (250) 213-4700
- Toll Free (BC only): 1-800-994-5899
- Email: FPBoard@bcfpb.ca
Q: If you don’t have any enforcement authority, how can you be effective?
The Board makes all its reports and recommendations public, including to the media, which has been an effective method to persuade the forest industry and government to act in response.
Q: What happens if the Board’s recommendations are not followed?
If the Board is not satisfied with the response to its recommendations, it can raise the matter with the Minister of Forests, or further, make a report to Cabinet. The Board can also require the ministry or licensee to explain why recommendations are not being followed.
Q: Can the Board order forest companies or the government to take action?
No – the Board cannot stop work or require remediation. But the Board’s experience has been that industry is quick to embrace changes and improve practices when recommended by the Board. Government also responds to our recommendations and has made improvements as a result of Board work.
Q: Is the Board part of the Ministry of Forests?
No – the Board reports to government and to the public on the state of forest practices, but it is an independent agency and does not take direction from the Ministry of Forests or any other government ministry.
Q: Are you part of the BC Provincial Government? How are you different?
The Board is a government agency, fulfilling an administrative tribunal role. However, the Board operates separately from any ministry and takes direction from its appointed Board. Although the Board does not have enforcement powers, it does provide oversight of government and industry forest and range practices. The Board’s role is similar to the Auditor General and the Ombudsperson, independently acting on its mandate to oversee Government and Industry.
Q: How can the Board be independent when the government funds you?
While the Board is accountable to the Minister of Forests, it does not report to the minister and does not receive its funding from the ministry. The Board receives its funding directly from the Treasury Board. The Board operates independently, deciding what audits and special investigations it will carry out, and must deal with all public complaints about compliance with, or enforcement of, the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act.
The Board provides copies of its reports and recommendations to the resource Ministers but these reports and recommendations are not approved or vetted by anyone prior to public release. The public receives reports at the same time as government.
Regardless of who’s on the Board, or who’s being audited or investigated, the Board’s findings are based on sound forest practices and compliance with the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Wildfire Act and regulations made under those acts. The Board uses the legislation to fairly and equitably assess all participants in audits, investigations and appeals. Board reports demonstrate our independence, many of which recommend improvements for government as well as industry.
Q: Why do you conduct audits?
The Forest Practices Board conducts audits of government and agreement-holders under section 122 of the Forest and Range Practices Act and section 68 of the Wildfire Act. Compliance audits examine forest or range planning and practices to determine whether or not they comply with the applicable requirements of Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act. The Board conducts 6-8 compliance audits annually. Most of these are audits of agreement holders. The Board also audits the government’s BC Timber Sales Program.
Q: How are your audits selected?
To begin with, auditors randomly select an area of the Province, such as a natural resource district. Then the auditors review the forest resources, geographic features, operating conditions and other factors in the area selected. These are considered in conjunction with the Board’s strategic priorities, and the type of audit is determined. At this stage, auditors choose the auditee(s) that best suit(s) the selected risk and priorities.
For example, in 2016, the Board randomly selected the Dawson Creek portion of the Peace Natural Resource District as a location for an audit. After assessing the activities within the area, auditors noted that there were two community forest agreements that had not yet been audited by the Board. As the Board strives to audit an array of licence types and sizes each year, these two community forest agreements were selected for audit.
For BCTS audits, a district or timber supply area within 1 of the 12 BCTS business areas in the province is selected randomly for audit. The audit selections are not based on past performance. Only those licensees or BCTS operations that have not been audited by the Board in the past five years are eligible for selection.
Please refer to the Forest Practices Board’s Audit information page for further details.
Q: If I see something I don’t like in the forest, do I come to you?
If you have concerns about any forest or range practices you have seen, we will do our best to help you. Usually, we start by determining who to contact in government or the name of the tenure holder in that area. We can also explain the relevant legislation, and whether or not the government’s Compliance and Enforcement Branch would be a good option for you to contact. We can also explain the Board’s role and discuss our complaint investigation process.
Q: What happens after I file a complaint?
When a person submits a notice of complaint, the Board assigns an investigator to the file. The investigator contacts participants to discuss the issue(s) in more detail, identify possible solutions, and determine whether the Board has the authority to deal with some or all the issues. The investigator will try to help the participants to resolve the issue(s) throughout the investigation process.
For more information on the complaint process, please refer to our Complaint Investigation Reference Manual: https://www.bcfpb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Complaint-Investigation-Process-2017.pdf
Q: Does the Board always need a complaint before it can conduct an investigation?
No – the Board may conduct special investigations to determine compliance with the Forest and Range Practices Act, Wildfire Act, the regulations made under those acts, and the appropriateness of government enforcement of certain parts of those acts.
Special investigations deal with matters of significant public interest over a larger area than can be addressed by a complaint investigation or audit. After completing a complaint investigation or special investigation, the Board’s conclusions and any recommendations are published in a report and made available to the public and to the government.
Q: What is the difference between a Special Report and a Special Investigation Report?
A special report is issued by the Board if it wishes to comment publicly on a matter that is related to the work of the Board or a specific audit or investigation case.
A special investigation is conducted by the Board to deal with matters of significant public interest that cannot be adequately addressed through a complaint investigation or an audit. Special investigations specifically examine compliance with the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act, as well as government enforcement.
Q: How is the role of Compliance and Enforcement different from the Board’s?
The Compliance and Enforcement Branch (C&E) is part of the Ministry of Forests. C&E monitors and enforces compliance with all natural resource legislation and their related regulations, and are not limited to FRPA and the Wildfire Act. C&E can issue remediation orders, stop work, and levy penalties for non-compliance. In contrast, the Board is independent from government and its complaint investigation process examines compliance with FRPA and the Wildfire Act, as well as the appropriateness of government’s enforcement, offering recommendations for improvement when deemed necessary. The Board cannot levy penalties, stop-work, or direct companies to comply.
Q: What is an appeal?
The Forest Appeals Commission is an independent tribunal and has the authority to hear appeals of a range of determinations (an act, omission, decision, procedure, levy, order, or other action made or taken by an official) made under the Forest and Range Practices Act, the Wildfire Act and others.
The Commission can hold hearings in person, by video or in writing. The Commission has the authority to confirm, vary or rescind determinations or may refer a matter back to the person who made the determination, with or without directions.
The Forest Appeals Commission provides valuable information about appeals and the appeal process and publishes its decisions on its website: www.fac.gov.bc.ca
Q: What is the Board’s role in appeals?
The Forest Practices Board has the authority to appeal certain determinations made under the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act. This includes contravention determinations, administrative penalties, remediation orders, wildfire cost recovery, and the approval or refusal of forestry and range operational plans.
The Board also has the authority to participate in appeals initiated by others including, for example, licensees, private land owners and contractors.
The Board may initiate or join appeals on its own initiative or at the request of the public. The Board’s decision to participate in an appeal is largely driven by public interest factors.