Supreme Court of Canada rejects Northwood appeal

VICTORIA – The Supreme Court of Canada has denied Canfor Corporation the right to appeal a decision made by the B.C. Court of Appeal regarding the Forest Practices Board’s jurisdiction.

The court’s ruling, handed down today, follows an unsuccessful appeal launched by Northwood Pulp and Timber Ltd. (now Canfor Corporation) in November 1999 after the B.C. Supreme Court confirmed the board’s right to comment on forest practices that may comply with the law, but may not be good for the environment. The B.C. Supreme Court found for the board in February 2001. In that decision, Justice Donald Brenner said it is essential that the Board’s powers not be restricted to simply reporting on compliance.

Canfor’s court challenges sought to have a board audit report changed to remove references to forest practices that were in compliance with the code. Canfor argued that the board was outside its jurisdiction in criticizing those practices. The board argued that it must be able to comment about forest practices that comply with the code but are not considered sound – and make recommendations for change.

At issue in the board audit was excessive compaction and disturbance of soil on 10 logging sites. While the soil disturbance was within legal limits, the board was concerned that it damaged productivity of the site and could impair new growth. In addition to mentioning this practice in its report, the board has recommended that government change the code to prevent this situation from being repeated.

Since the audit, Canfor has responded positively to the board’s recommendations and is monitoring and evaluating effects on soil productivity on its logging sites. Government has also agreed to provide guidance on soil disturbance for Ministry of Forests district managers to prevent similar problems.

The Forest Practices Board is an independent public watchdog, established in 1995, that publishes reports about compliance with the Forest Practices Code and the achievement of its intent.

The board’s main roles under the Forest Practices Code are:

  • Auditing forest practices of government and licence holders on public lands.
  • Auditing government enforcement of the code.
  • Investigating public complaints.
  • Undertaking special investigations of code-related forestry issues.
  • Participating in administrative reviews and appeals.
  • Providing reports on board activities, findings and recommendations.

Bill Cafferata,Chair
Forest Practices Board
Phone: (250) 387-7964

Jacqueline Waldorf
Forest Practices Board
Phone: 250 387-7964
1 800 994-5899

October 4, 2001