Ministry of Forests Annual Report 1995/96
The program-specific reports under the Forest Resource Management sub-vote are organized by these sections, on the pages that follow.
Aboriginal Affairs staff deliver the traditional-use study program on behalf of government, to promote more stability in resource management through increased aboriginal participation, sharing of information, and better communication between government and First Nations. These studies of historical land and resource use are conducted with funding from Forest Renewal BC and the Corporate Resource Inventory Initiative/ Common Land Information Base.
During 1995/96, branch staff input assisted in the management of archaeological resources that may be impacted by forest development activities. The Protocol Agreement on the management of cultural heritage resources, between the Ministry of Forests and the Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture, will be amended to reflect the imple-mentation of the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act, as well as administrative and operational changes in both ministries. Staff continue to prepare cultural heritage overviews, archaeological overview assessments, and archaeological impact assessments.
Staff also continue to develop and administer programs to expand First Nations participation in the forest sector and to increase aboriginal business development skills and expertise. In 1995/96, this included the Directory of Forestry Education and Training Programs in British Columbia (developed in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, Skills and Training), and Forest Practices Code training for First Nations.
In this year as well, an Agreement in Principle was signed by the Nisga'a Tribal Council, the Province of British Columbia, and Canada. Aboriginal Affairs staff are examining the impact of this agreement on forest resources in the Prince Rupert Forest Region, and participating in negotiation of the Final Agreement. Staff provide ongoing counsel to provincial treaty negotiators on forestry considerations such as resource harvesting, manu-facturing, revenue implications and analysis, available mapping services and products, forest policy, and operational matters.
In 1995/96, branch staff participated in the negotiation of several memoranda of understanding and protocol agreements with First Nations, and provided technical assistance to the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs in implementation of the Federal/Provincial Cost-Sharing Memorandum of Understanding.
Branch staff also continued to coordinate the ministry's direct participation in treaty negotiations, and provided forest resource analysis and advice to provincial treaty negotiations with the Sechelt, Ditidaht, Kaska Dene, and Gitanyow First Nations.
Timber Supply staff are responsible for leading the Forest Service team to produce timely, reliable, informative timber supply analyses that reflect current integrated resource management. This includes developing policy, methods and models for timber supply analyses. The branch also works with other branches to provide social, economic and environmental information to the chief forester for his AAC determinations.
The Timber Supply Branch has an AAC decision-support team that provides information, policy and counsel to district and regional staff on the AAC determination process for both TSAs and TFLs. One of the decision-support team's most important responsibilities is to provide support to the chief forester when he makes and documents an AAC determination in a rationale statement.
The branch also assists the attorney general's staff when the chief forester is challenged through the courts or an appeal board on AAC decisions.
The Timber Supply Review process is explained in more detail on page 4.
Research supports innovation in forest management. Continued, well-focused research will improve our ability to maintain and enhance forest productivity and meet economic, biological and social sustainability goals as the province adapts to an increasingly competitive global economy.
To meet the challenge, Research Program staff provide technical advice and scientific knowledge to help guide forest policy, resolve forestry issues and create a sound ecological basis for resource management. The program focuses on providing the technical information needed for sustainable use of the timber resource, as well as research on integrated resource management and improving forest practices.
Sustainable use of forest resources is a key theme of the new Forest Practices Code as well as the provincial Timber Supply Review process. Forest research provides the scientific basis for sustainable use. It helps us practise sustainable forestry, maintain healthy ecosystems, restore damaged ones, and improve forest productivity and timber supply.
During 1995/96, research provided new knowledge and techniques that can be applied to today's forest management challenges. Accom-plishments included numerous studies, consultations, workshops and publications. For example, growth and yield specialists analyzed forest-growth data and helped forest managers evaluate silvicultural practices in terms of yield value and economic return. The knowledge gained through this research plays a critical role in supporting technically sound allowable annual cut determinations.
Tree improvement studies increased the quality and quantity of seedling stock used in B.C.'s comprehensive reforestation program, and applied breeding- and biotechnology to enhance wood quality, pest resistance, and growth rates. Hardwood and mixed-wood management studies focused on increasing the productivity of cottonwood, alder, birch, aspen and other B.C. hardwood and mixed- wood stands, and on enhancing fibre supply and habitat values.
Exploration continued during this year on alternatives to clearcutting, and new silvicultural treatments were developed by investigating the biological and sociological impacts of new harvesting methods. Computer-based tools were designed and improved for landscape-level planning and to support integrated resource use decision making. Research also improved our understanding of the structure, functioning and extent of old-growth forests in B.C., to aid in land-use planning and improve our management prescriptions.
In 1995/96, Research Program scientists developed and applied strategies to improve the sustainable management of range resources, and the integration of range management activities with other resource values. They also refined the province's renowned ecosystem classification system, which serves as the frame-work for forest management in British Columbia. This work included developing a classification system for wetland and riparian areas.
Research scientists supported decision making and improved specific management prescriptions by investigating the structure and function of forest ecosystems and studying methods to maintain biodiversity and integrate multiple resource values. Research results improved our understanding of harvesting impacts on unstable terrain, water quality and quantity, sediment production, stream channel morphology, and fish habitat. Research staff also increased our knowledge of forest soils, the impacts of forest management practices on soil physical properties, and the role of soil organisms in forest productivity.
Extensive staff time was also devoted to technical advisory and review work during the start-up phases of Forest Renewal BC's Research Program.
In 1995/96, extension took many forms, from workshops and informal communication, to training events and the publication of field guides. In addition, Research Program staff provided consulting services and pro-fessional advice to a variety of clients, including Forest Service regional and district staff, industry, Ministry of Forests executive, and the public.
Participation in resource planning by the public, First Nations and local governments is encouraged at all levels. Planning promotes cooperation and communication among clients and offers a way to balance competing demands for a variety of resources on a limited land base.
Resource planning staff provided technical support for the implemen-tation of three regional plans, and development of 14 sub-regional land and resource management plans (LRMPs) during this year. Staff also prepared numerous local resource plans, completed pilot projects on landscape planning under the Forest Practices Code, and refined policy and procedures for operational planning under the code. Technical support was continued for the Land Use Coordination Office, the Protected Areas Strategy, ministry headquarters, and regional and local interagency planning bodies.
In 1995/96, data provided to clients included digital graphic files with inventory data that included forest stand growth, yield, volume and decay estimates and projections.
More than 2,500 map sheets – or about 35 per cent of the provincial forest land base – were digitally updated for depletion during 1995/96. Beginning in 1994/95, 25 TSA area-volume data files were assembled from map sheets for the Timber Supply Review. By the end of 1995/96, all 25 of these were 'rolled-over' to the new Forest Inventory Planning (FIP) format.
By the close of the 1995/96 year, all 43 forest districts had in-house capability to digitally capture (update) forest cover maps for disturbances. Also in mapping, the first pass for provincial coverage was successfully completed by MAPGEN, a software program that generalizes existing 1:20,000 scale forest cover maps to a scale of 1:250,000. MAPGEN will provide information for strategic planning processes such as land-use and resource management plans.
Growth and yield
Growth data collected and processed by the B.C. Forest Service makes up a database that is used to predict changes in forest stands. During 1995/96, program staff responded to more than 60 client requests for growth and yield sample information, and reviewed five Tree Farm Licence management plans for growth and yield content.
During this year, project planning was completed and methodology piloted for the Old Growth Site Index (OGSI) adjustment project in all six forest regions. Data collection is planned for the 1996 field season, from old-growth and adjacent logged and reforested areas, to determine whether the existing site productivity information is an accurate estimate of the second-growth site indices. (Site productivity is expressed by site index, which is an estimate of top height at a reference age. Under-estimation of site index in some stands because of broken or damaged tops [possibly from wind storms or insect attacks], repression [from overcrowded stands] or suppression [due to shade from taller trees] leads to under-estimation of the potential for growing new forests.) Site productivity is a key component in the forest inventory, because it affects projections of future stand volumes, and management objectives such as cutblock adjacency and green-up. The information is also important in land-use planning and forest management, and for determining operability and formulating silvicultural strategies.
Data resources and system support
Staff completed the sample database on March 31, 1996. After client review, loading will begin in 1996. Work continued to modify the sample data model to include vegetative cover samples and to create a new data-base for photo-estimated information.
Staff in this area were also involved during the year with the Resources Inventory Committee in developing common standards and procedures for gathering and using inventory data, with the Forest Practices Code in mind, and anticipating the needs of Forest Renewal BC.
System support staff continued their work to standardize the branch computer network to the ministry's, to increase accessibility and make information sharing easier. Completion is scheduled for the 1997/98 fiscal year.
Inventory Operations Program
Several processes are used to ensure the quality and accuracy of the provincial inventory. These include pre-inventory analysis, inventory audits, re-inventory, special inventory studies, and vegetation resources inventory.
Pre-inventory assessments were completed on 300 map sheets in 1995/96. The ministry re-inventoried 234 map sheets during the year, and completed a Small Wood Study in the Merritt TSA. Photo interpreters continued training under the Air Photo Interpretation Certification Program, which provides basic and advanced courses to ensure the continuance of the expertise needed to conduct re-inventories.
The inventory audit program, developed in 1992, is designed to test the accuracy of existing TSA and TFL inventories. The audit is used to set priorities for future re-inventory activities, and, because it offers an assessment of the risk and uncertainty associated with the inventory, it may be useful to the chief forester in determining the allowable annual cut.
Inventory audits were completed on 12 management units in 1995/96, bringing the audited total to approximately two-thirds of all management units in B.C. It is anticipated that the remainder of the province will be completed by 1998.
Vegetation Resources Inventory
The Vegetation Resources Inventory is a new land cover classification system that uses photo interpretation, ground sample measurements, and statistical analysis and adjustment to provide a more accurate and complete account of British Columbia's tree and other vegetation resources than was previously available. Imbedded in the inventory is a method of classifying land cover that is consistent with national and international standards.
Staff continued developing the inventory in 1995/96, and training interpreters, even as the first pilot operation began in the Fraser TSA.
Asean Institute of Forest Management (AIFM)
The ministry continues to manage the AIFM in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to help the Asean nations develop an institute for sustainable forestry. The ministry works under contract with the Canadian International Development Agency, which funds the project.