Changes needed to B.C.’s forest practices legislation

Forest Practices Board suggests prior changes in Forest and Range Practices Act

In a new report released on Dec. 4, the Forest Practices Board is recommending the provincial government make a number of improvements to the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA).

These improvements all have been recommended in previous board reports, but government has never implemented the recommendations, according to the report.

“The board believes these changes are necessary to improve stewardship of B.C.’s forest and range resources and to maintain public confidence in their management,” says board chair Tim Ryan.

“We urge government to move quickly to address these priorities.”

Priorities

• Strengthen district managers’ authority to intervene where proposed activities put local environmental and community values at risk. Currently, district managers must issue cutting and road permits if they meet basic requirements under FRPA, even if the proposed activities pose a risk to local values.

• Enable public consultation on forest roads and cut blocks. The only legislated opportunity for public review and comment is for forest stewardship plans, but these documents do not indicate where or when forest development will occur. The public cannot tell how forestry activity may affect them until they see ribbons hanging on the trees.

• Strengthen legal requirements for protection of drinking water from forest and range activities. There are limited protections for drinking water outside of community watersheds, and this issue is the source of many of the public complaints the board receives each year.

• Publish all penalty determinations made under FRPA and the Wildfire Act. Currently, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations & Rural Development does not make public the penalties it issues for non-compliance, such as causing a wildfire or damage to the environment.

• Establish government objectives for access road management and improve the systems and processes in place for managing resource roads. In the order of 10,000 kilometres of resource road is built each year without the benefit of a strategic plan for their location or use.

The Forest Practices Board is British Columbia’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government.

The board can investigate and report on current forestry and range issues and make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.

More information is available at www.bcfpb.ca

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