[Silviculture Prescription Guidebook Table of Contents]
A silviculture prescription is a site-specific plan that describes the forest management objectives for an area. Silviculture prescriptions must be consistent with any higher-level plan that encompasses the area to which the prescription applies.
- To show how the management activities proposed will be carried out to maintain the inherent productivity of the site, accommodate all resource values including biological diversity, and produce a free growing stand capable of meeting stated management objectives.
The silviculture prescription prescribes the method for harvesting the existing forest stand, and a series of silviculture treatments that will be carried out to establish a free growing crop of trees in a manner that accommodates other resource values as identified. Subsequent documents, including cutting authorities and logging plans, must follow the intent and meet the standards stated in the silviculture prescription.
Backlog silviculture prescriptions: All of the content requirements for a silviculture prescription apply to prescriptions for insufficiently stocked areas where the timber was harvested, damaged, or destroyed prior to October 1, 1987, except the following:
- silvicultural system requirements
- the method of timber harvesting.
These requirements may be exempted by the district manager. Clarification is provided in the appropriate sections.
Silviculture prescriptions were first conceived in the early 1980s as a method for documenting planned silviculture activities prior to harvesting areas. Implementation was initially through ministry policy, which resulted in 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 include additional content requirements for silviculture prescriptions, soil conservation measures, and the provision for administrative penalties for contravention of specific sections of the regulation.
The introduction of a Forest Practices Code is the most recent action taken to regulate and administer forest management activities. The Forest Practices Code consists of legislation (i.e., act, regulations, standards) and guidebooks. The guidebooks provide recommended procedures to assist forest practitioners in the planning and carrying out of forest practices in ways that will assist them in complying with the Forest Practices Code.
This guidebook is limited to the preparation and administration of silviculture prescriptions that are required under the Forest Practices Code Act and the Operational Planning Regulation.
Note: Examples have been provided for each section of this guidebook. These examples have been included to assist in the presentation of each section, and should not be considered required format. Local knowledge, procedures, and issues will dictate the level of detail required in various sections of the silviculture prescription. Each example is independent of the others.
All silviculture prescriptions must meet the following general requirements:
- A map or maps must be attached to the prescription in accordance with the mapping requirements section of this guidebook.
- Any pages added to the prescription document are to be identifiable as part of the document.
- Pages should be numbered and the tenure number and date should appear on each page.
- All prescriptions, amendments and attachments must be prepared in ink and should be referenced in the text of the prescription.
Where they are an integral part of the prescription, the following items should be attached to the prescription:
- silvicultural system or other decision-making keys
- agreements with other resource users
- stocking survey criteria
- field data cards.
RPF signature and seal
A silviculture prescription must be signed, sealed and dated by a registered professional forester who is responsible for its content and accuracy.
Where the prescription is for the holder of a major licence or a woodlot, the prescription must be signed by the holder of the licence or a person who has signing authority.
District manager approval
The district manager is to sign and date the silviculture prescription when he/she is satisfied that the measures prescribed are adequate to meet management objectives, including the establishment of a free growing stand at or near the target stocking level. The district manager should not sign approval subject to additional requirements.
District managers may require additional information in order to satisfy themselves that the measures being prescribed are adequate to meet management objectives.
Amendments to prescriptions may be submitted voluntarily at any time, or may be required by the district manager when specific conditions arise.
Amendments to prescriptions may be submitted on a silviculture prescription amendment form (FS 395) if the clarity of the original prescription will not be adversely affected; otherwise a new prescription may be submitted, replacing the original upon approval.
The silviculture prescription must provide an administrative description of the site being assessed. Through the tenure number, a link is provided to other documents and information systems. Tenure information should be the same for the silviculture prescription, advertising and referrals, silviculture information systems, surveys and reports required by legislation.
The following information must be recorded:
- licensee (and division, if applicable)
- licence number (plus cutting permit and block number, if applicable)
- timbermark(s), if known, in the same format as the Integrated Silviculture System (ISIS) or Major Licensee Silviculture Information System (MLSIS)
- location (common or local names should be used rather than gazetted names)
- forest district
- timber supply area
- total area under the prescription (see section on area summary)
- the net area to be reforested (see section on area summary)
- the BCGS mapsheet number (plus opening number if available).
The silviculture prescription must set out the long-term management objectives for the area. Management objectives must be:
- specific and measurable so the success of the silviculture prescription can be evaluated
- clearly written so that the management intent of the prescription is communicated effectively.
- To show how the management objective for the area will be consistent with those objectives laid out in higher-level plans, resource management zones or landscape units.
As a minimum, the silviculture prescription must describe the following:
- higher-level plans
- sensitive areas and objectives
- stand structure and composition objectives
- forest health objectives
- First Nations issues
- resource values and objectives.
The prescription must reference the higher-level plans under which it falls, including the forest development plan and five-year silviculture plan. It must also include objectives from higher-level plans, resource management zones, or landscape units that apply to the area being prescribed.
Where higher-level plans do not exist, other resource agencies or affected parties should be consulted to develop site specific objectives.
Where the district manager has established a sensitive area under the Forest Practices Code of B.C. Act, any silviculture prescription must identify the objectives for the sensitive area and how the prescription will meet those objectives.
The prescription must indicate specific stand management and timber product objectives from higher-level plans. It should indicate the expected species composition and estimated rotation length if an even-aged silvicultural system is prescribed. Stand diameter and volume objectives are also suggested to clarify the prescription.
If an uneven-aged silvicultural system is prescribed, stand structure and cutting cycle information is required in accordance with the silvicultural system section of this document.
Requirements, if any, for retention of coarse woody debris and wildlife trees must be included.
If there are existing or anticipated forest health concerns (including such factors as windthrow or fire hazard) identified in higher-level plans or from site evaluations, state the objectives to manage the problem(s).
Objectives should be consistent with First Nations agreements or approved plans as well as the Heritage Conservation Act. Where available, traditional use overview studies and archaeological impact studies should be consulted. Any questions or concerns should be directed to the district aboriginal forestry advisor or the Corporate Policy and Planning Branch of the Ministry of Forests.
The prescription must provide any objectives for managing resources identified on the area. These resources are identified from higher-level plans, usually the forest development plan.
The silviculture prescription must also include any specific harvesting, silviculture, biodiversity, or land management objectives for the area that are not addressed in higher-level plans.
Examples of these types of objectives might be:
- "to maintain the integrity of the adjacent recreation site by reserving a ‘x’ metre buffer zone of timber"
- "to enhance grizzly bear habitat by limiting stand density"
- "to retain ’y’ amount or type of coarse woody debris for soil conservation or wildlife habitat considerations."
Figure 2. Example of management objectives.
The silviculture prescription must describe how the site will be managed to address the fish, wildlife, and biodiversity concerns identified through an ecological evaluation of the site, the forest development plan and higher-level plans.
- To show how the site will be managed to sustain forest and soil resources.
The silviculture prescription must contain the following ecological information:
- Biogeoclimatic zone(s), subzone(s) and, if appropriate, type(s) and phase(s)
- BEC site series and, if appropriate, type(s) and phase(s).
Ecological classification and interpretation guidance is provided in the following publications:
Cariboo Forest Region
B.C. Ministry of Forests. (draft) 1989. A field guide for the identification and
interpretation of ecosystems of the Cariboo Forest Region. Research Section,
Williams Lake, B.C.
Kamloops Forest Region
Lloyd, D., K. Angrove, G. Hope and C. Thompson. 1990. A guide to site
identification and interpretation for the Kamloops Forest Region.
B.C. Min. For., Victoria, B.C. Land Manage. Handb. #23.
Nelson Forest Region
Utzig, G., P. Comeau, D. Macdonald, M. Ketcheson, T. Braumandl, A. Warner
and G. Still. 1986. A field guide for identification and interpretation of
ecosystems in the Nelson Forest Region. B.C. Min. For., Victoria, B.C.
Land Manage. Handb. #20.
Prince George Forest Region
MacKinnon, A., C. DeLong and D. Meidinger. 1990. A field guide for identification
and interpretation of ecosystems in the northwest portion of the Prince George
Forest Region. B.C. Min. For., Victoria, B.C. Land Manage. Handb. #21.
DeLong, C., A. MacKinnon and L. Jang. 1990. A field guide for identification and
interpretation of ecosystems of the northeast portion of the Prince George Forest
Region. B.C. Min. For., Victoria, B.C. Land Manage. Handb. #22.
Jull, M.J., C. DeLong and D. Tanner. 1993. A field guide for site identification and
interpretation for the southern portion of the Prince George Forest Region.
B.C. Min. For., Victoria, B.C. Land Manage. Handb. #24.
DeLong, C. et al. 1994. A field guide for site identification and interpretation for the
Northern Rockies and portions of the Prince George Forest Region.
B.C. Min. For., Victoria, B.C. Land Manage. Handb. #29.
Prince Rupert Forest Region
Banner, A. et al. 1993. A field guide to site identification for the Prince Rupert
Forest Region. B.C. Min. For., Victoria, B.C. Land Manage. Handb. #26.
Vancouver Forest Region
Green, R.N. and K. Klinka. 1994. Site identification and interpretation for the
Vancouver Forest Region. B.C. Min. For., Victoria, B.C. Land
Manage. Handb. #28.
The silviculture prescription must identify the following site factors:
- elevation and aspect
- slope position
- soil moisture and nutrient regimes
- estimated site index and a general description of the existing forest cover (or previous forest cover, in cases where the timber was destroyed or previously removed)
- soil texture, coarse fragment content, drainage, depth to rooting or water movement restricting layer, depth to unfavourable subsoil, humus form and depth
- terrain stability hazards
- sensitivity of the site to soil disturbance may be recorded here or in the soil conservation section
- any other site factors critical to the success of the prescription.
The Riparian Guidebook provides guidance on determining riparian classifications, establishing riparian reserve and management zones and developing prescriptions for riparian management areas.
The silviculture prescription must identify the riparian class of streams in and adjacent to the area and any reserve or management zones on these streams. The forest practices to be conducted in these zones, if any, must also be described.
Wetlands and lakes less than 5 ha in size
Any reserve or management zones to be established adjacent to wetlands and small lakes, and the forest practices to be conducted in those zones, must be described.
Lakes larger than 5 ha in size
The silviculture prescription must provide the lake classification for any lake in or adjacent to the prescription and greater than 5 ha in size. Any reserve or management zone on these lakes, and the forest practices, if any, to be conducted in those zones, must be described.
Any gully assessments conducted should be referenced in the silviculture prescription.
Any wildlife habitat area or feature must be identified in the silviculture prescription. Actions to accommodate wildlife are discussed in a later section.
Site series must be indicated on the silviculture prescription map and described in the silviculture prescription to a resolution of at least 1 ha or smaller, depending on the relevance to the management objectives for the site.
Standards units (SUs) must be indicated on the silviculture prescription map and described in the silviculture prescription.
An SU is an area of the prescription that will be managed through the uniform application of silvicultural system, stocking standards and soil conservation standards. These standards will be used to determine the achievement of free growing and soil conservation obligations. Various harvesting and silviculture activities may have different treatment boundaries than the SUs. Riparian management areas will normally be separate SUs in order to identify the special treatments and stocking standards expected there.
Prescriptions must be written based on the most restrictive factors to management.
Example: Within a 12 ha area, a 2 ha patch has a sensitivity to soil disturbancerrating of “high” while the remaining 10 ha are rated “low.” Unless this 2 ha area is mapped and described as a separate SU, the entire 12 ha must be managed for the “high” sensitivity rating.
Patch cutting and group selection
Where multiple units are to be covered by one silviculture prescription, it is recommended that opening sizes and standards be presented in tabular format for clarity.
Mosaic of site series
Some areas will be complex, with several distinctly different site series occurring in a mosaic where units are either too small or too intricately distributed to map. These areas should be described in sufficient detail to permit the individual units to be identified in the field, and should be given labels that indicate the
approximate proportions of the components.
Example: The area should be classified according to the most dominant site unit or most sensitive site. The silviculture prescription might state, “The area is a mosaic of site series 01 (90%) on level ground and 03 (10%) in a series of small depressions. The depressions have organic soils and are dominated by sedge cover.
The silviculture prescription must provide an assessment of forest health factors currently causing damage or that potentially may cause damage that currently exist in or immediately adjacent to the stand and that may be expected to occur in the stand before the harvest of the next crop; and must prescribe appropriate forest health treatments that are required to be carried out before the stand of trees becomes free growing.
- To show how, where necessary, forest health treatments will be used to address identified forest health factors that are currently causing damage or that may potentially cause damage to the area under the prescription and achieve management objectives.
Where forest health factors currently exist, the prescription should identify those factors currently causing damage or that potentially may cause damage and an estimate of the magnitude of the risk, by standards unit (SU), if necessary. If forest health factors are localized (e.g., root rot pockets) they should be shown on the prescription map if possible. The Forest Health Surveys Guidebook provides guidance on forest health assessments.
Where the potential for damage before the next harvest is identified, the type of forest health factor and an assessment of the risk to the stand must be provided. Any actions proposed to address forest health concerns must be summarized and appropriate treatments prescribed in accordance with the forest health guidebooks. Strategies to minimize and recover losses to windthrow should be included here.
Figure 4. Forest health example.
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