Visual Impact Assessment Guidebook
Table of Contents
Visual resource management:
legal and planning context
This section summarizes the legal and planning context for managing visual resources in
three key operational plans: forest development plan, road layout and design, and
Forest development planning
A Forest Development Plan (FDP) is a document that describes and illustrates how
harvesting and road development in a specific area will be managed (OPR Part 3). This plan
provides the linkage between the objectives for forest resources approved in higher-level
plans, or established by the district manager before submission of the plan, and
on-the-ground operations. Further details about requirements related to forest development
planning are laid out in the Operational Planning Regulation. Concerning visual resources,
an FDP must include the following.
- Information about known scenic area in the planning area (OPR Sect. 18(1)(e)(viii)).
- Location of cutblocks proposed to achieve category A status if the FDP is approved (OPR
- Location of category A cutblocks that were previously approved in an FDP and whether or
not the visual impact assessment has been completed (OPR Sect. 18(1)(r) and Sect. 37
- Approximate location of proposed road construction and modification and the location of
a road that has been included on the most recently approved FDP (OPR Sect. 18(1)(h) and
- Location of harvested cutblocks that have not yet greened up and that are adjacent to
proposed, or previously approved, category A blocks (OPR Sect. 18(1)(s)).
- Measures that will be carried out to protect forest resources, which include known
scenic areas (FPC Act Sect. 10(1)(c)(ii)).
Before approving a plan or amendment, the district manager may require the licence
holder to submit additional information to determine whether the plan or amendment will
adequately manage and conserve the forest resources of the area (FPC Act Sect. 41(1)(b)).
Green-up requirements may be varied through a higher-level plan or at the discretion of
the district manager, and this information should also be reflected in the FDP (OPR Sect.
68(4) and (8) and THPR Sect. 9(2)(e). Category I cutblocks and Category I roads, while not
part of the FDP, are useful tools for identifying the location of cutblocks and roads
proposed for known scenic areas within the development plan area (OPR Sect. 19(1) and
(2)). Referral agencies or the public may wish to provide comment(s) regarding block
suitability at this stage.
Road layout and design
The primary purpose of a road layout and design is to provide the best road geometry
and clearing widths to accommodate the vehicle sizes and traffic volume contemplated under
operational plans and permits. Optimal road design should minimize the cost of
construction, transportation, maintenance, and deactivation, as well as the impacts on
other resources, such as visual resources. When any road layout and design occurs in a
known scenic area, visual values must be considered. The following provisions are
applicable in a road layout and design.
- When scenic area information is made known to licensees, they must list the actions (if
any) required to adequately manage and conserve the visual resource, as these resources
may affect or may be affected by the road location (FRR Sect. 6(1)(k)).
- Road locations must be selected and located in such a way as to accomplish the
objectives of declared higher-level plans (FRR Sect. 4(1)(a)), including scenic area
and/or Visual Quality Objectives.
- In known scenic areas with established visual quality objectives, a VIA must be
completed to ensure proposed road construction or modification will achieve the
established VQO (FRR Sect. 4(7)).
- The road layout and design must be consistent with the results and recommendations of
the VIA, and a statement to that effect must be signed and sealed by a professional
forester (FRR Sect. 6(4)).
- When requested in writing by the district manager, the VIA must be made available to
other resource agencies before the road layout and design is approved. Where applicable,
this could include the B.C. Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture (FRR Sect.
A silviculture prescription (SP) is a site-specific plan that describes the forest
management objectives for an area. Silviculture prescriptions must be consistent with the
management objectives set out in a forest development plan or, in the absence of an FDP,
in a higher-level plan (FPC Act 12(a)(i)). The purpose of the SP is to show how
management activities will be carried out to accommodate identified resource values. The
following provisions are applicable when preparing silviculture prescriptions.
- If the cutblock is in a known scenic area that has established visual quality
objectives, a visual impact assessment must be completed to demonstrate that the timber
harvesting operations are consistent with those objectives (OPR Sect. 37(1)(a)).
- If a VIA is required, a SP must contain a statement that:
- the procedures required by the OPR for the VIA have been followed; and
- the SP is consistent with the results or recommendations of the VIA (OPR Sect. 38).
- If requested by the district manager, the VIA must be made available to the district
manager before the SP may be approved (OPR VIA Sect. 37(1)(a)).
- The district manager may require by a notice in writing that a silviculture prescription
or amendment submitted for approval be made available for review and comment in accordance
with the notice (OPR Sect. 47(1)).
- If requested, a completed must be made available to the person conducting a review of
the SP to assist that person in their review of the SP (OPR Sect. 47(3)).