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The Silviculture Prescription Guidebook and template

This document has been written to help forest practitioners prepare silviculture prescriptions that comply with the Forest Practices Code. It is limited to the preparation and administration of silviculture prescriptions required under the Forest Practices Code Act and the Operational Planning Regulation.

Examples taken from the prescription template have been provided for each section of the guidebook for clarification. The examples should not be considered to be required in terms of either content or format, and examples are generally independent of one another, in order to illustrate a wide range of issues.

The format of this guidebook coincides with the silviculture prescription template (dated March 2000), which is designed to provide the essential information for a prescription. Legislative and regulatory silviculture prescription content requirements will be met by completing the information in this template; however, use of this template is not mandatory. Other formats may be used, provided that they comply with the Act and regulations.

It is also important to note that additional information, beyond that required in the template, may be necessary as a matter of due diligence and to ensure that the prescription is successful. Sound professional judgement and discretion are necessary to ensure that a prescription is effective. Local knowledge, procedures, and issues will dictate the level of detail required in each section.

The silviculture prescription template presented in this guidebook is used as the basis for SilvRx, a computer program for silviculture prescription preparation available for Ministry of Forests use.

History of silviculture prescriptions

Silviculture prescriptions were first conceived in the early 1980s as a method for documenting planned silviculture activities prior to harvesting. Implementation was initially through ministry policy, which resulted in a wide variation in application across the province. The requirement for silviculture prescriptions was legislated in the fall of 1987 (Bill 70 - Forest Amendment Act No. 2, 1987), and further regulated in the spring of 1988 (Silviculture Regulation). The requirement for silviculture prescriptions was further refined in July 1993 (Bill 56 - Forest Amendment Act No. 2, 1993) when the legislation was amended to include provisions for exemptions from some or all of the obligations of basic silviculture under specific circumstances. Further restrictions on the conditions under which these exemptions could be granted came into effect in February 1994 (Silviculture Practices Regulation). Key features of this Regulation included additional content requirements for silviculture prescriptions and soil conservation measures, and provision for administrative penalties for contravention of specific sections of the Regulation.

In 1998, through the Forest Statutes Amendment Act (Bill 47), the legislation was amended to streamline the preparation and implementation of operational plans. Content requirements for silviculture prescriptions were substantially reduced, eliminating details on how forest practices were to be conducted. Further streamlining regulation changes occurred in October and December of 1998. The Silviculture Prescription Guidebook emphasizes specific management objectives and standards that must be achieved rather than methods for achieving them.

General objective of the silviculture prescription

  • To describe management objectives, measures, and conditions that must be met to accommodate forest resources, resource features and known non-timber resources, and to ensure that the inherent productivity of the site is maintained and that a free growing stand is produced.

A silviculture prescription (SP) is an operational plan that describes forest management objectives for an area:

If there are no trees present on the area under the prescription because of (for example) trespass, damaged or destroyed timber, or backlog areas, the prescription requirements are reduced. In these cases, the prescription is not required to state the silvicultural system, slope instability indicators, unfavourable subsoils, risk of sediment delivery into streams, details on access structures, and site conditions to accommodate forest resources. Further exemptions are permitted where there are no trees to harvest and where a mechanical site preparation will not be conducted. These exemptions include the requirements to state soil degradation hazards, critical site conditions, and soil disturbance limits.

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