Ministry of Forests Annual Report 1994/95
This section of the Forest Resource Management sub-vote funds forest tenure administration and other ongoing forest land administrative activities, and the operations administrative support formerly funded by the Management Services sub-vote. It also provides funds for developing, maintaining, deactivating and rehabilitating roads, trails and bridges, and for the activities associated with reforesting lands destroyed by fire, insects or disease since 1987. Allocations for operation of the ministry's tree nurseries and seed centre also originate under this section of the sub-vote.
Under Resource Tenures and Engineering, staff oversee the engineering, building and maintenance of forest roads and bridges, including watershed restoration by district staff. Through this section, the ministry also acquires property for forest management purposes.
Forest Service roads are major public assets. They serve the public, the forest industry, small business, tourism, mining, the petroleum industry, and other interests by providing access to provincial forest and range lands. Responding to the needs of these groups in 1994/95, the ministry continued to construct, improve, upgrade and maintain Forest Service roads, bridges and major culverts (Tables C-2h, C-2i and C-2j). In the coming year, staff will construct approximately 1,000 kilometres of new Forest Service roads, and replace or build some 200 bridges and major culverts.
The ministry also administers the Watershed Restoration Program that is funded by Forest Renewal BC (FRBC). (See Special Accounts vote section on Forest Renewal BC.)
The ministry acquires property for Forest Service road rights-of-way and other purposes.
During 1994/95, rights-of-way were acquired for 26 Forest Service road projects at a cost of $631,000 involving 76 private properties.
In the site program, 22 new sites were acquired to accommodate the first phase of the Protection Restructuring Program (fiscal expenditure of $400,000). Successful negotiations in the Cold Storage Program resulted in a $1.2 million saving over five years.The ongoing annual Lease Program for protection, silviculture and harvesting cost some $340,000 for 220 properties.
The B.C. Forest Service manages range resources to protect, conserve and monitor Crown range ecosystems, to meet the forage needs of wildlife and the ranching industry, and to administer range tenures to beef cattle producers, guide outfitters, and other commercial users of Crown forage. Range staff are responsible for the use of cost-effective management and treatments in order to maintain or enhance forage productivity and quality for the ranching industry and wildlife, and, indirectly, for the public.
During this year, a significant contribution was made to the development of the Forest Practices Code legislation and guidebooks on range practices and operational planning. Ongoing work included research into biological control agents for noxious weeds, cooperation with other ministries and the public in providing noxious weed control and containment programs, and a range reference area program for long-term monitoring of range forage resources.
Knapweed and nodding thistle were still a problem in 1994/95, so staff continued the release and spread of biological control agents. Under the Range Program, funding was continued for developments such as forage seeding, water supplies, weed control, and fences and cattle guards required to protect or enhance the efficient use of the range resource and to mitigate resource-use conflicts (Tables D-1a and D-1b).
Staff also administered more than 2,000 permits and licences for grazing and hay cutting during 1994/95 (Tables C-2k and C-2l).
In the latter part of the fiscal year, noxious weed biocontrol activities were transferred to Silvicultural Practices Branch as part of the ministry reorganization.
Opportunities are provided for outdoor recreation use throughout B.C.'s public forest lands — from use in roaded recreation settings, to wilderness recreation use. The Ministry of Forests works to ensure that recreation sites and other facilities are safe, sanitary, socially acceptable and environmentally sound. Although no fees are generally charged, millions of dollars of government revenues are derived from various taxes associated with expenditures by outdoor recreationists in provincial forests.
In 1994/95, an estimated 47 million residents and 8 million non-residents visited B.C.'s public forest lands (about two-thirds in roaded areas, and one-third in roadless areas). Approximately half of all use occurred within the Vancouver Forest Region (Table C-2n). The recreation visits to provincial forests generated some $2.5 billion in expenditures in 1994/95 from residents and non-residents.
The approximately 2.5 million visits to forest recreation facilities during this year represented an increase of more than 50 per cent in facility use over the last decade. The B.C. Forest Service now manages more than 2,050 sites and trails (Table C-2m).
During 1994/95, on-site management presence was increased to curb vandalism and rowdiness, primarily at sites in the Lower Mainland and on southeastern Vancouver Island. Additional interpretive forest sites were developed and managed, and more than 200,000 copies of forest district recreation maps were distributed to the public.
Sustainable use of forest resources is a key theme of the new Forest Practices Code and the provincial Timber Supply Review. Forest research provides the scientific basis for sustainable use; research helps us practise sustainable forestry, maintain healthy ecosystems and restore damaged ones, and improve forest productivity. For example, research on soil productivity has led to guidelines in the Forest Practices Code for soil conservation during harvesting, as well as to techniques for rehabilitating damaged sites. Ecological studies have improved our knowledge of ecosystems and their responses to logging, range use and other forest practices.
As technical experts, Research staff dedicated much of their time to the development and review of the Forest Practices Code, including regulations and guidebooks. Research staff also published comprehensive field guides for site identification and interpretation of ecosystems in the Vancouver and Prince George forest regions, and continued research into the relationship between forestry activities and productivity of aquatic ecosystems in coastal and central B.C. Researchers analyzed data from the West Arm Demonstration Forest (Kootenay Lake) — a study aimed at testing and validating innovative forestry practices in a community watershed context — and on expanding an interdisciplinary research study at Sicamous Creek, in the Kamloops region. The study focuses on high-elevation forests and silvicultural systems.
During this year, staff also monitored soil conservation studies designed to measure the impacts of heavy equipment on forest soils, published a working paper describing windthrow in B.C. forests, and revised a guide for the management of landslide-prone terrain in the Pacific Northwest.
The Resource Use portion of the Forest Resource Management sub-vote funds the operation of the tree nurseries, Tree Seed Centre, reforestation of areas burned by wildfire or damaged by pests, and forest health activities.
Nurseries and Tree Seed Centre
The ministry nurseries produce seedlings for planting for both the provincial Silviculture programs and the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program. The nurseries produce spruce, pine and Douglas-fir grafts for future seed orchards and tree improvement programs, and conduct experiments to examine new cultural methods on an operational scale.
Staff manage seedling production at the ministry's tree nurseries, as well as transportation and cold storage of ministry seedlings. They also administer seedling contracts with private nurseries for provincial Silviculture programs, and develop and support an information system on seedlot registration. In addition, staff provide extension services to private seed collectors, nurseries and Christmas tree growers on seedling quality, operational trials, and nursery pest management.
All seed used for Crown land reforestation must be stored at the ministry's Tree Seed Centre; the centre registers, tests, stores and withdraws for use all seeds used for Crown land reforestation. These services are also available to licensees on a fee-for-service basis.
A summary of seed additions, withdrawals and inventory at the Tree Seed Centre for 1994/95 is presented in Table C-2o.
Under nursery operations, a total of 63.9 million seedlings was requested for provincial Silviculture programs and the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program in 1994/95. Of that, 24.5 million seedlings came from the three ministry nurseries, and 39.4 million came from commercial nurseries. During this year, Silviculture staff also completed approximately 7,000 grafts for establishing seed orchards. Planting stock from tissue culture, produced for test and demonstration purposes, was established on several field sites in the Prince George area, in cooperation with Research Branch.
Ongoing work for nursery headquarters personnel included training non-ministry staff on the Seed Planning and Registry (SPAR) information system.
As part of the ministry reorganization, responsibility for the nursery operations and Tree Seed Centre moved from Silviculture Branch to Operations Division on June 1, 1994.
Reforestation is carried out under this allocation to treat areas damaged by wildlife and pests. Silvicultural activities for areas damaged by pests are detailed in Table C-2r. Ongoing work includes surveys, site preparation, planting, brushing and spacing required for a stand to reach free growing. Please see Table D-1c for details of these activities during 1994/95.
Forest health activities for 1994/95 are listed in detail under sub-vote Forest Investment and FRDA II, in the section Forest Investment.
Timber Supply Branch is 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 analysis. The branch also assists the Attorney General's staff when the chief forester is challenged through the courts or an appeal board on allowable annual cut (AAC) decisions.
The 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 timber supply areas (TSAs) and tree farm licences (TFLs). One of the decision-support team's most important responsibilities is to provide technical support to the chief forester when he determines and documents an AAC.
In 1994/95, branch staff continued the Timber Supply Review by completing 15 timber supply analyses and producing 21 public discussion papers for TSAs. Five rationales for AAC determinations on TSAs were also published in this year.
In addition, the Timber Supply Review process was completed and the AACs determined on four TFLs.
The Timber Supply Review process is explained in more detail on page 10.
Virtually all Crown timber that is harvested is subject to stumpage or royalty charges.
Appraisal policies and procedures are developed and maintained to determine stumpage and royalty rates. Most stumpage rates are determined by formulas based on site-specific timber data. Royalty rates, which applied to approximately 7 per cent of the annual harvested volume for 1994/95, are set by regulation. Timber cruising determines the volume of standing timber before harvest in order to establish stumpage rates.
On May 1, 1994, stumpage and royalty rates were significantly increased and legislation was enacted that provided for the increased revenue to fund Forest Renewal BC. In October 1994, an independent review of royalty rates was initiated. The review was released in January 1995, and the government announced that its recommendations would be implemented. The review included recommendations to phase out the differences between royalty and stumpage charges.
In June 1994, Valuation Branch was moved from Operations Division to Management Services Division. (For further Valuation reporting, see the Monitoring, Enforcement and Audit section under the Forest Resource Management sub-vote, and Management Services under the Corporate Services sub-vote.)
On April 1, 1995, Valuation Branch was renamed Revenue Branch. For the purposes of this report, it is referred to as Valuation Branch.
In 1994/95, more than 3,000 timber harvesting licences and agreements were in place. More than half of those were issued under the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program (Table C-2f).
The volume of all products billed on all Crown lands was 65.8 million cubic metres, compared to 69.8 million cubic metres in 1993/94 (Table C-2b). The volume of all products billed on all tenures where harvest rates are regulated — excluding timber licences, licences to cut, and rights of way — was 63.1 million cubic metres, down from 66.2 million cubic metres in 1993/94. This compares with an allowable annual cut for these tenures, as of March 31, 1995, of 70.5 million cubic metres.
Issuing cutting authorities
Although a forest company might hold a timber harvesting licence or agreement, harvesting cannot proceed until a series of harvesting plans that accommodate resources other than timber is approved, and until cutting authority is received from the ministry. Approximately 1,811 new cutting authorities were issued in 1994/95 (excluding those issued under the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program), representing a decrease of 9 per cent from 1993/94.
The ministry also issues timber marks that authorize the removal of timber from private land. During the 1994/95 fiscal year, 7,406 timber marks were issued, and 4.4 million cubic metres of timber were harvested from private land. The volume of timber harvested from private land decreased by 3.5 million cubic metres from 1993/94.
Harvest areas for the 1995/96 fiscal year are expected to be similar to those of 1994/95 due to the strong markets for lumber, pulp and paper products.
Ministry staff conduct audits and inspections of basic silviculture activities carried out by major licensees on Crown land harvested on or after October 1, 1987. These audits or inspections are done by either a random or a targeted method for major licence holders, to ensure that basic silviculture obligations are met on Crown land.
An audit report on the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program begins on page 73.
Timber that is transported from cutblocks to some 800 authorized scale sites is carefully monitored to ensure that all harvested timber is delivered and scaled. Ministry check scalers conduct check scales, and monitor scaling operations and scale sites to make certain that all harvested timber is accurately scaled. Staff conducted 7,974 check scales during 1994/95.
In addition, Forest Revenue Inspection Teams investigate major revenue risks, and assist forest districts in ensuring that forest revenue is properly managed and controlled. These teams also conduct investigations.
In June 1994, Valuation Branch was moved from Operations Division to Management Services Division. (For further Valuation reporting, see section Resource Use under sub-vote Forest Resource Management, and Management Services under the Corporate Services sub-vote.)
On April 1, 1995, Valuation Branch was renamed Revenue Branch. For the purposes of this report, it is referred to as Valuation Branch.