Stand Management Prescription Guidebook

Table of contents

General requirements

General objective

  • To ensure that submission and approval requirements are adequate.
  • To explain the role of SMPs in the planning process.
  • To explain the relationship of the SMP to the SP.

A SMP must be consistent with any higher level plan in effect when the SMP is submitted for the district manager's approval or prepared for the district manager.


The following signatures are required to signify where accountability rests.

RPF signature and seal

A SMP must be signed and sealed by a registered professional forester who is responsible for its content and accuracy.

Licensee signature

Where the holder of the prescription is a major licensee or woodlot licensee for treatments required by a licence under the Forest Act, the SMP must be signed by the holder of the licence or a person who has signing authority. These SMPs are prepared under Section 24(2) of the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act.

District manager signature

The district manager should only sign the SMP if it has been prepared and submitted in accordance with the Act and the regulations and the district manager is satisfied that the measures prescribed adequately manage and conserve the forest resources.

District managers may require additional information in order to ensure that the measures being prescribed adequately manage and conserve forest resources.

Prescription amendments

Changes to an approved SMP will require an amendment. A SMP may be amended any time prior to the commencement of work affected by the amendment.

Life span of a stand management prescription

An SP authorizes all silviculture activities from pre-harvest of the original stand to free growing of the new stand. A SMP can cover a full rotation, from the free growing declaration until the next harvest. This provides context and rationale for the sequence and types of treatments proposed.

The plan for a stand should be stated in the SMP. For example, a SMP for a lodgepole pine stand could prescribe spacing down to 1600 sph at age 15 years. The overall plan for the area could be to have 3 fertilizations at age 20, 30 and 40 followed by a commercial thinning at age 50. With a harvest forecast for age 80 years. At age 80 the average sawlog piece size is expected to be 25 cm (450 m3/ha @ 12.5+ cm utilization).

The legislation requires treatments to be scheduled with an earliest and latest date if the treatment is scheduled for more than three years from the date of SMP approval.

The above example can be managed in the following manner:

The SMP can describe the overall stand management plan in general terms with specifics on the spacing treatment that is expected to occur in the next three years (therefore an earliest and latest date for the spacing treatment is not required). The fertilization treatment can be described in the general plan for the SU. To authorize treatment it can be described in detail with an earliest and latest date for carrying out the fertilization treatment (in this case four to six years after approval). If the fertilization treatment is not described with an earliest and latest date, it must be added as an amendment in order to authorize entry into this stand to carry out the fertilization. The other two fertilization treatments could also be added as amendments in the future. The commercial thinning entry is a planned objective and should be stated in the SMP, however, a silviculture prescription is required before the commercial thinning is carried out.

Full-rotation plans provide continuity and clarity to the direction and development of a stand over a rotation period (or series of cutting cycles), and thereby help meet the management objectives set for the stand.

The schedule of activities prescribed in a SMP should provide the most appropriate and cost effective means of producing the desired target stand. A target stand is a stand with the desired structural attributes achieving the specified management objectives for the site. SMPs should be designed to ensure that the biological, economic and forest-level objectives are achieved in the most efficient manner possible.

The ordering of activities within the schedule is also critical. Activities should be scheduled to maximize the effectiveness of each activity. For example, if fertilizing, pruning, and then spacing are to be carried out, much of the benefit will be lost by fertilizing too many trees, pruning too many trees, and then spacing out the extra trees previously pruned and fertilized. It is more efficient to space, prune, then fertilize, so that the crop trees benefit most from the treatments. If a treatment is scheduled within a SMP for a period greater than three years from the approval date, the range of years for that treatment must be specified.

It may be appropriate to only schedule one activity in the SMP. The SMP can be as simple or as complex as required to meet the forest management objectives.

Where it is critical that a treatment be carried out during a season, the "window" for treatment should be listed in the SMP. For example, this would be important when spacing stands where commandra rust is present. Spacing when the spores are visible on infected trees will help improve the crop tree selection during the spacing operations.

The SMP does not have the same legal requirements as the SP. The holder of an SP must meet specific stand objectives at free growing as a legal requirement.

There is no obligation on the holder of a SMP to fund or carry out any specific treatments under an approved SMP. However, once the decision is made to carry out a treatment, the conditions and post-treatment standards specified in the SMP must be achieved or the SMP amended prior to treatment. There are some licences under the Forest Act that require the licensee to conduct treatments on free growing stands at the licensee's expense. In these the cases the licensee is the holder of the SMP.

If no activities are planned for the site after free growing, no SMP is required.

Role of the SMP in the planning process

Stand management prescriptions play a valuable role in the implementation of stand-level management objectives by:

Creating a stand management prescription

The creation of a SMP (FS 68) follows a procedure similar to that of the new SPs required under the Forest Practices Code. The presence and details of existing SPs will determine the amount of additional information needed to prepare a SMP. There are three possible scenarios:

  1. No previous SP in place - the area was harvested or originated from a natural disturbance prior to October 1, 1987 and meets the criteria for free growing. There may or may not be any higher level plans and there will be no defined target stand conditions. The SMP for this stand will require the most work as there is little or no information to go on. This scenario will require the identification of higher level plan objectives (if they exist), the collection of stand information, setting of management objective, and preparation of the SMP.
  2. An older SP (or PHSP) exists and the stand is now free growing - the prescription contains no higher-level management objectives and a limited description of target stand conditions. The SMP for this scenario may require almost as much work as an area that has no SP. Older SPs may not be comprehensive but should still be used to identify any stand-level information and management objectives.
  3. A recent SP is in place and the stand is now free growing - the SP clearly identifies stand management objectives to free growing and may include a schedule of silviculture activities proposed for after free growing. The SMP prepared under this scenario is the simplest of all. The SP should be consulted for stand-level information and management objectives. The SMP may be as simple as extracting pertinent SP information and refining the objectives, target stand conditions, current stand attributes, and the schedule of treat-ments to achieve those objectives. If the SP lacks sufficient detail, other plans guidelines or agreements should be consulted for management objectives.
  4. The area may have had previous treatments done under a SMP. For these areas, much of the required information is already available and, in that respect, these areas are similar to number 3 above.

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