Ministry of Forests Annual Report 1994/95
British Columbia's forests are its most commercially valuable renewable resource. Crown provincial forests cover approximately 85 per cent of B.C., and provide timber, wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities, range lands, clean air and water, and many other values. The Ministry of Forests manages and protects B.C.'s forest and range lands for the best short- and long-term economic, social and environmental benefits for all British Columbians.
Over time, the Forest Service's stewardship role has changed significantly. Today, fiscal responsibilities must be balanced against a complex range of other values, such as the need for sustainable forestry. That recognition has been fundamental to legislation like the Forest Practices Code. Protecting and enhancing those values is changing the way services are delivered by the Ministry of Forests.
In 1994/95, the ministry underwent a major reorganization in support of the Forest Practices Code. At the same time, the Ministry of Forests reinforced its commitment to securing the sustainability of the forest and range resources through a series of related initiatives:
In addition, the ministry supports and contributes to the following government initiatives:
In line with the ministry's new priorities and reorganization, its vote structure was also changed in 1994/95: revenues and expenditures now drive land management, resource administration and investment. That order is reflected in this annual report.
In 1979, when the Ministry of Forests Act was introduced, one of the ministry's major goals was to supply timber to develop and maintain the province's timber-based economy. Since then, there have been significant changes in public priorities, environmental concerns, market expectations, and new legislation — particularly the Forest Practices Code. The importance, scope and complexity of the code demanded that existing and additional resources be put in place to support the ministry's critical resource stewardship mandate. A ministry-wide reorganization was undertaken during 1994/95.
Divisional responsibilities were realigned in order to streamline and prevent duplication, and to deliver services more efficiently, especially at the district level. Accountability was improved at branch, region and district levels, and land management resources were increased.
The ministry restructuring is scheduled for completion by December 31, 1995. (New reporting relationships are shown in detail in the ministry organizational diagram on pages 22 and 23.)
The Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act was introduced in the provincial legislature on May 16, 1994, and passed on July 7. The result of more than two years of research and public consultations, the Act established a single, rigorous, enforceable code of conduct for forest practices in order to ensure sustainable forests. The Forest Practices Code has jurisdiction over all public land, and all private land in tree farm licences (TFLs) and woodlot licences - more than 93 per cent of B.C.'s forest land.
Backed by a system of tough enforcement, stiff penalties, increased monitoring, new requirements and independent audits, development of the code drew considerable support from the public, First Nations and forest stakeholders. Public involvement is fundamental to the process, and will be ongoing as improvement of the code continues, in response to innovations and experiential and scientific findings.
In May 1994, the Summary of Public Input was released, and draft regulations and proposed standards were also released for review.
When complete, the Forest Practices Code will be the first comprehensive package of legislation, regulations and field guides to govern forest practices in British Columbia. The code's guiding principle is the sustainable use of the forests we hold in trust for future generations, through prudently managing the forests, providing sound resource stewardship, balancing a variety of values, conserving biodiversity, and restoring environmentally damaged areas.
The code also establishes an independent Forest Practices Board, representing a range of public interests, to audit forest management performance by government and industry, and to investigate public complaints. An independent Forest Appeals Commission will review forest management decisions made under the code.
The Forest Practices Code Regulations will take effect on June 15, 1995, marking the start of the six-month transition period for full compliance. All guidebooks were scheduled for completion by the end of 1995, and all Forest Practices Code requirements will be fully phased in by June 15, 1997.
Anticipating the Forest Practices Code, special enforcement and monitoring teams were created by the ministry in 1993/94 to supplement existing monitoring personnel in all 43 forest districts.
The ministry-wide reorganization in 1994/95 was fundamental to implementation of the Forest Practices Code, and central to that was the creation of a new Enforcement Branch under the ministry's Operations Division. The branch ensures that the ministry's legislative and regulatory programs are enforceable and are perceived as being effectively enforced in a fair and equitable manner. Branch staff provide support, training and assistance to field staff involved in monitoring and enforcing compliance with the code. The branch also provides assistance to other ministries, the Forest Practices Board, the Forest Appeals Commission and the Ombudsman on enforcement matters.
Forest Service staff work in partnership with personnel from the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks, and the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources to enforce the Forest Practices Code.
The three-year Timber Supply Review (TSR) was launched in 1992 to assess the province's timber resource, forestry practices, and non-timber values, in order to make reliable timber resource forecasts, and to ensure that timber harvest levels are sustainable over the long term in each of the 36 timber supply areas (TSAs) and 34 tree farm licence (TFL) areas in the province.
The five-step process gathers information on timber resources through a technical analysis, analyzes socio-economic impacts of various harvest-level options, and summarizes these findings in a discussion paper. Public involvement and input are encouraged on the release of the timber supply analysis, the socio-economic analysis, and especially the discussion paper. Allowable annual cuts (AACs) are the cornerstone of forest management in B.C. The chief forester sets appropriate AAC levels, taking into consideration the government's economic and social objectives, as well as other information specified in section 7 of the Forest Act.
In 1994/95, timber supply analyses were completed for 15 TSAs, bringing the provincial total to 25. Socio-economic analyses and public discussion papers were published in 21 of these areas, and the chief forester set allowable annual cuts for five TSAs, bringing the total number of new AACs set for TSAs to six.
The process for tree farm licences is slightly different than that for TSAs, but the chief forester must still determine AACs for each of the 34 TFLs. In 1994/95, the chief forester set AACs for four TFLs, bringing that total to 12. All remaining analysis reports and public discussion papers are scheduled for release by the fall of 1995.
Legislation requires the chief forester to review an AAC at least every five years. The chief forester can, however, make adjustments to an AAC before the end of that period, in order to respond to new information, practices and policies, and to ensure the sustainability of the forest resource.
In 1995, the Forest Act was revised to extend the deadline for the current Timber Supply Review to December 31, 1996.
The B.C. government established the independent Commission on Resources and Environment (CORE) in 1992 to develop a regional land use strategy with an emphasis on economic, environmental and social sustainability, public participation, and respect for aboriginal rights. The strategy recommended by CORE and adopted by government consists of land use planning at the provincial, regional or sub-regional, and local levels.
Public participation is elemental to the planning process, which is designed to provide Cabinet with a recommended local consensus or set of options for land and resource management. The government then makes binding land use decisions based on local recommendations. Final plans identify areas for full protection, as well as lands dedicated to sustainable resource use.
In making land use decisions, the provincial government consults with the aboriginal people whose traditional territory overlaps the planning region. New land use designations in B.C. are deemed to be “without prejudice” to aboriginal rights and will not interfere with eventual treaty settlements.
A final land use plan was announced on June 22, 1994 for the Vancouver Island region. The plan permanently protects 23 new parks, bringing the total protected area on the Island to 13 per cent. The final land use plan for the Cariboo-Chilcotin was released on October 24, 1994, doubling the protected areas in the region, to 12 per cent.
By the end of 1994/95, Cabinet had approved CORE's recommendations for the Cariboo-Chilcotin, the Vancouver Island and the Kootenay-Boundary regions. The East Kootenay region process continues.
The regional planning process begun by CORE is one of two major land use planning initiatives underway in the province; the other is land and resource management plans (LRMPs). These plans involve the public, stakeholders and the provincial government in a consensus-building process designed to reflect sub-regional/local priorities and objectives in resource use and management decisions for Crown lands.
LRMPs are closely tied to two other Forest Service initiatives: the Forest Practices Code and, to a lesser extent, Forest Renewal BC. LRMPs divide each planning area into zones, and apply all values — from protecting habitat and biodiversity, to maintaining jobs and local economies - to resource use decisions made at the local level. The plans set strategic direction for planning areas; the code explains how to achieve the goals; and Forest Renewal BC may provide funding for achieving the goals.
Twelve LRMPs were underway at the end of 1994/95, and comprehensive LRMPs are expected to be in place for the entire province by 2000, bringing the provincial total of planning areas to approximately 40.
Clayoquot Sound is an area renowned for its natural resource and wilderness values. In the sound, the provincial government is implementing a unique approach to forest management recommended by an independent panel of scientists and aboriginal resource managers.
The government established the Scientific Panel for Sustainable Forest Practices in Clayoquot Sound in 1993 to develop the highest possible forest management standards for the 40 per cent of the sound that is available for general resource use. During 1994/95, the government accepted and promised to implement in full the panel's final recommendations, which include a fundamental shift from managing the area for particular products, to managing for sustainable ecosystems.
Key to the panel's guiding principles was recognition of the needs of First Nations in the area. An Interim Measures Agreement on Clayoquot Sound was signed by the Central Region Chiefs of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and the province in March 1994. On May 27, the chief forester announced an expected reduction in the allowable annual cut, as a result of the April 1993 Clayoquot Sound Land Use Decision. The decision to reduce the rate of harvest in the sound is consistent with the interim measures agreement.
The ministry will monitor and evaluate the ecological, social and economic impacts of the ecosystem-based approach recommended by the panel.
The Protected Areas Strategy (PAS) is a provincial land-use planning process that was established in 1992 to protect representative examples of the natural diversity of the province, as well as natural, cultural heritage, and recreational features. An important function of the PAS mandate is to determine which ecosystems are currently protected in sufficient amounts, and which are underrepresented.
By April 1994, almost 8 per cent of B.C. was under some form of protected areas designation. This is consistent with the government's objective of protecting 12 per cent of provincial land by 2000. It is also in line with the goal set by the United Nations' Brundtland Report, Our Common Future.
On August 16, 1994, the government announced the permanent protection of the largest intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world: the Kitlope Valley on B.C.'s central coast. Under an historic agreement among the Haisla Nation, the province and West Fraser Timber Co., the 317,000-hectare watershed is preserved from logging in perpetuity. West Fraser Timber Co. voluntarily relinquished its harvesting rights in the area, unconditionally and without compensation in order to help secure protection for the Kitlope Valley.
An agreement-in-principle between the province and the Haisla Nation provides for joint management of the area.
In conjunction with the final land use plan announced for Vancouver Island on June 22, 1994, the government introduced new legislation - the Forest Land Reserve Act - to protect and secure the commercial forest land base across the province. Crown forest lands and private managed forest lands are included in the reserve, and will be subject to the Forest Practices Code. These lands cannot be removed from the reserve without a review process.
Protected areas, agricultural lands and all private lands other than the private managed forest lands are not included in the reserve.
On September 30, 1994, the Ministry of Forests committed to doubling the woodlot licence program over the next three years, from 500 to 1,000 licences. The volume of timber is also expected to double under the program, to 1 million cubic metres on Crown and private land.
The woodlot licence program provides opportunities to small-scale operators who are committed to practising sustainable, community-based forestry. Woodlot licences are area-based tenures that grant exclusive rights to harvest timber within their boundaries, and generally consist of Crown and private land. Up to 600 hectares of Crown land can be included in Interior woodlot licences; Coastal licences may include a maximum of 400 hectares. The expanded program will encourage more landowners to bring parcels of private land into forest production.
Expansion funding of $2.9 million is being provided by Forest Renewal BC.
The multi-stakeholder Forest Sector Strategy Committee (FSSC) was formed in 1993 to develop a long-term, environmentally sustainable industrial strategy to enhance the economic and social benefits derived from B.C.'s forests. The FSSC helped the government establish the priorities for the Forest Renewal Plan that was announced on April 14, 1994. Revenues of approximately $400 million per year from increased stumpage and royalty rates will, by law, be reinvested back into B.C.'s forests in order to help alleviate the effects of anticipated reductions in sustainable harvest levels, strengthen the forest sector for the long term, and allow economic diversification and stabilization in forestry-dependent communities, including First Nations, across the province.
The plan represents a partnership of forest companies, workers, environmental groups, communities, aboriginal First Nations, and government. Forest Renewal BC, the agency created to implement the plan, will invest the funds in improved reforestation, more intensive silvicultural activities, and increased forest research and development. Forest Renewal will also promote the value-added sector, and fund the cleanup of past environmental damage.
On July 26, 1994, the office of Vancouver Island's Forest Jobs Commissioner was opened. As part of the Vancouver Island land use plan, the commissioner works with companies, unions, communities, First Nations and government to secure stable forest industry jobs in both the short and long terms.
Government policy direction and recent court decisions have made the recognition of aboriginal rights an important factor in forest planning and management in British Columbia. Through the B.C. Treaty Commission, interim measures and First Nations policy forums, the government is moving toward settling treaties and recognizing First Nations' interests in land and resources. The Ministry of Forests also provides support to ongoing, comprehensive claims negotiations.
In 1994/95, the government signed an Interim Measures Agreement on Clayoquot Sound with the Central Region Chiefs of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, establishing a joint management board to oversee land use and resource management decisions. The province also entered into an agreement with the Haisla Nation and West Fraser Timber Co. for the permanent protection of the Kitlope Valley on B.C.'s central coast — the largest intact coastal temperate rainforest in the world. The Haisla and the province also put in place an agreement-inprinciple that establishes joint management of the area.
The First Nations Forestry Council is scheduled to release its Strategic Plan in April 1995, after extensive consultation among First Nations, industry, government and unions. The plan will address increased aboriginal participation in all areas of the B.C. forest sector.
Other aboriginal programs and initiatives ongoing or begun in the 1994/95 year include the Native Orientation Program, the Forest Worker Development Program, the Unit Crew Program, the Fire Prevention Technician Training Initiative, Aboriginal Forestry Advisors, and joint ventures among industry, government and First Nations.
On September 15, 1994, the Long Beach Model Forest Agreement was signed by the Canadian and British Columbian governments at Port Alberni. The model forest encompasses 400,000 hectares of forested land on Vancouver Island's west coast, including Clayoquot Sound. Part of the Partners in Sustainable Development of Forests program backed by the federal government, the Long Beach Model Forest is the 10th model-forest partnership in Canada. It completes a network of sites across the country that total some 6 million hectares of land and represent the country's major forest ecosystems.
The Long Beach Model Forest represents a spectrum of interests, and will be managed through cooperative decision-making processes for a range of values.
Stumpage and royalty fees raised $1.9 billion during the 1994/95 fiscal year, nearly double the previous year. The sharp rise was due to an increase in the value of wood products - driven by strong international demand - and substantial increases in stumpage and royalties under British Columbia's Forest Renewal Plan.
On August 3, 1994, Canada won its long-standing battle with the United States over duties on Canadian softwood lumber. The decision was made by an Extraordinary Challenge Committee, struck under the Canada - U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which dismissed U.S. allegations of appearance of bias and incorrect application of U.S. law by a binational panel. The panel found that Canadian stumpage programs and B.C.'s log export controls were not countervailable subsidies.
In December 1994, as an alternative to further trade litigation, Canada and the United States agreed to begin a consultative process on trade in softwood lumber. Under the terms of reference for the process, the consultations "will establish an ongoing dialogue to create better understanding, to resolve problems and to try to avoid litigation." A series of information sessions are planned, beginning in May 1995, that will involve provincial and both federal governments, and the forest industry from both sides of the border.
In the last decade, British Columbia has been an active participant in global debates and policy-making on environment and sustainability. B.C. was part of Canada's delegation to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), and supported the international agreements that emerged - in particular the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on Climate Change, Agenda 21 and the "Guiding Principles on Forests.”
Many elements of the Guiding Principles are reflected in Canada's National Forest Strategy (NFS), signed by the federal, provincial and territorial governments in 1992. The NFS commits governments to completing ecological classification systems, establishing models of sustainable forestry, and incorporating ecological values in forest management. British Columbia, in addition, is implementing elements of the Guiding Principles by including aboriginal and other communities in decision-making, as well as through new land and resource use policies and practices. New provincial forestry initiatives also support the main recommendations of Canada's National Biodiversity Strategy, which B.C. helped develop after UNCED.
British Columbia, with the government of Canada, and in cooperation with industry, academics and environmental groups, also contributes to the work of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Forests. This panel is charged with elaborating on and clarifying many of the central issues relating to sustainable forest management, including criteria and indicators, certification and ecolabelling, traditional ecological knowledge, land use planning, and trade and environment issues.
B.C. is also working with the federal government and other provinces to implement Canada's national set of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management.