Ministry of Forests Annual Report 1994/95


Ministry of Forests Annual Report 1994/95 Table of Contents

Sub-vote

Forest Investment and FRDA II

This sub-vote funds activities designed to enhance forest resources in order to increase and improve wood supply, range lands, recreation opportunities and wildlife habitat. It funds activities under:

The program-specific reports under the Forest Investment and FRDA II sub-vote are organized by these sections, on the pages that follow.


Section

Forest Investment

Funding under this section of the sub-vote supports stand tending silviculture activities, and reforestation of lands denuded by pests and fire prior to 1987. It also funds range and recreation land enhancement, land information, and seed orchards and forest health activities.

Engineering

Refer to the Forest Resource Management sub-vote, section Resource Use, for details on Engineering activities during 1994/95 (page 53).

Range

Forest investments for Range include continued funding of range 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.

1994/95 Highlights

During 1994/95, seeding was done on nearly 300 hectares for grassland rehabilitation, and on more than 5,700 hectares of disturbed forest land. Fifteen water development projects were completed, along with nearly 100 kilometres of fencing, and weed control was done on more than 1,200 hectares. In addition, work was done to repair, maintain and develop corrals and cattle guards. Range accomplishments are summarized in Tables D-1a and D-1b.


Recreation

Forest investments for recreation on B.C.'s public forest lands include investments for facilities like sites and trails. Some recreation projects have been supported by the Canada - B.C. Partnership Agreement on Forest Resource Development (FRDA II).

1994/95 Highlights

With the support of FRDA II, more than 100 recreation management projects were undertaken in 1994/95. They included visual landscape inventories, visual landscape designs for cutblocks and roads in scenic areas, development and rehabilitation of interpretive forest sites, and preparation and printing of district recreation maps, recreation research publications, guidelines and training materials.

All FRDA II activities are detailed in the FRDA II 1994/95 Annual Report.


Research

The production of genetically improved seedlings is of great importance today, particularly given the current downward pressures on the allowable annual cut (AAC) in B.C. In this program area, Research staff focus on applied research in forest genetics, in order to add volume to and improve the value of what we harvest from the forest. Part of the ongoing challenge for Research is to identify and understand genetic patterns for each tree species, so strategies can be developed to help maintain genetic diversity in the provincial forests.

1994/95 Highlights

In 1994/95, ministry Research staff:

Silviculture

Allocations under the Forest Investment section provide for silviculture activities that enhance forest resources to increase wood supply, range lands, recreation opportunity and habitat. These activities include seed production, reforestation and stand tending of areas that were denuded prior to 1987, and forest health activities.

1994/95 Highlights

Seed Orchards

The ministry seed orchards produce seed for both ministry and licensee reforestation needs. In addition to orchard management, seed section staff are also responsible for cone collection training, cone and seed pest management, seed information systems development and support, and seed-related policy development.

For related information on the ministry Tree Seed Centre and nursery operations, see sub-vote Forest Resource Management, section Resource Use. Details of the 1994/95 seed additions, withdrawals and inventory by species (seed orchards and natural stands) are given in Table C-2o.

Seed production from the Coastal and Interior seed orchards was generally less in 1994/95 due to bumper crops the previous year. Polycross tests and maintenance operations will continue to improve the genetic quality of crops in forthcoming years, and the ministry continues to establish additional demonstration plantations on Coast and Interior sites to show the benefits of tree improvement.

The Coastal Seed Transfer Guidelines were updated as a cooperative project between Silviculture and Research branches. Silviculture staff also provided support for Research branches in tissue culture techniques and embling production of Interior spruce, which continued to show high levels of terminal weevil resistance.

In anticipation of the Forest Practices Code, staff updated the existing regulations with respect to the planning, collection, registration and use of seed and vegetative material. Updated Provincial Transfer Guidelines were included in the Seed and Vegetative Material Guidebook for the Forest Practices Code.

Reforestation

The ministry funds activities to ensure that areas denuded prior to 1987 are regenerated to free growing. The following sub-programs are treated under the Forest Investment section (for obligation categories, see Table 6):

For 1994/95, Table D-1c summarizes reforestation activities funded under provincial Silviculture programs and the Forest Worker Development Program. Table D-1d details activities under all funding sources.

Stand Tending

The ministry funds stand management activities through the Provincial Incremental sub-program. The intent of this sub-program is to improve the health, productivity and value of immature forest stands. For 1994/95, Table D-1c provides a summary of stand tending activities.

Forest Health

Forest health activities prevent and control damage caused by disease, insects and other organisms. A considerable amount of the ministry's harvesting activity is related to control of damage by bark beetles.

Many forest health activities are integral components of reforestation and stand tending. Treatments such as mechanical removal of infested tree roots — which is necessary in some areas to ensure reforestation to free growing — are required as a part of the basic silviculture responsibility of the ministry and licensees. Stand tending treatments, such as pruning blister-rust infected white pine, are usually funded under the Provincial Incremental sub-program.

Responsibility for treatment of infestation or damaging agents depends on their nature and location, and may accrue to the ministry, licensees or the federal government.

Under the Forest Health program, $9.8 million was spent in 1994/95 on bark beetle control and related surveys, including:

Inclement weather and the continuation of an aggressive control program in 1994/95 helped limit damage caused by bark beetles in many areas of the province. An expected outbreak of Douglas-fir tussock moth in the Kamloops Forest Region was prevented by aerial spraying with an organism that naturally causes disease in the insect. In other work, re-inspection of research provenance trials for lodgepole pine indicated a large variation of damage, and illustrated potential genetic resistance to stem rusts and other damaging organisms.

Treatments during 1994/95 to control bark beetles and defoliating insects are summarized in Table C-2r.

Other forest health activities in this year included surveys and treatment of root disease, leader weevils, porcupine damage, and others. Estimates of timber damage and areas under attack by forest pests in 1994/95 are given in Tables C-2q and C-2p, respectively.


Sub-vote

Forest Investment and FRDA II

Section

FRDA II

The Canada - B.C. Partnership Agreement on Forest Resource Development (FRDA II) section of this sub-vote funds all activities that qualify for cost-sharing under the agreement. FRDA II is a five-year agreement (1991 to 1996) between the federal government and the province that was created to share costs associated with increasing the value and volume of the forest resource.

Over the term of the agreement, each government will contribute a maximum of $90.5 million. The province will make direct expenditures of $140.3 million, and recover $49.8 million from the federal government. The federal government will make direct expenditures of $40.7 million.


Research

The Canada - B.C. Partnership Agreement on Forest Resource Development (FRDA II) has played a critical role in developing the science behind key ministry initiatives such as the Forest Practices Code, the Timber Supply Review, and land use planning processes such as the Commission on Resources and Environment (CORE).

The three principal objectives of FRDA II research and extension activities are:

1994/95 Highlights

In 1994/95, ministry research scientists conducted research in three main areas: forest renewal, integrated resources management, and growth and yield and stand tending. More than 60 projects were funded in this fiscal year.

Forest renewal research explored alternatives to clearcutting, and looked for ways to increase the survival and growth of seedlings, manage hardwood and mixed wood forests, and develop vegetation control techniques.

Integrated resource management research developed better approaches for understanding, maintaining and managing biodiversity and old growth. Researchers also assessed the environmental impacts of forest management practices on soil, water and other non-timber resources, and explored treatment options. In addition, scientists developed decision-support tools for resolving land use conflicts.

Growth and yield and stand tending research refined models that predict future wood supply and value resulting from various silviculture treatments. In 1994/95, researchers also collected and analyzed data from long-term field installations. These data are used to develop and validate models such as those used in timber supply analyses.

As FRDA II winds down and projects near completion, the extension of research results becomes increasingly important. In 1994/95, a significant number of publications, workshops and seminars were delivered by research staff, including a handbook for aspen managers in B.C., a guide to identification of B.C. trees (the Tree Book), a summary of FRDA growth and yield research in B.C., and a report assessing the strategic importance of the province's hardwood resource. Research staff under FRDA also organized and delivered “New Concepts in Ecosystem Management,” a five-day workshop for senior and middle managers, and created 'eco-lessons' on biodiversity and ecosystems for the Knowledge Network children's show, KidZone.

All FRDA II activities are detailed in the FRDA II 1994/95 Annual Report.


Silviculture

The Canada - B.C. Partnership Agreement on Forest Resource Development (FRDA II) is a federal/provincial, cost-shared forestry agreement. Fiscal 1994/95 was the fourth year of FRDA II; the provincial delivery of FRDA II ends on March 31, 1996.

This agreement is designed to support the sustainable development of the province's forest resources. The primary objectives of the agreement are to conduct incremental silviculture (spacing, pruning and fertilizing), and to fund initiatives in communications, extension, research, small-scale forestry, product and market development, and economic and social analysis.

1994/95 Highlights

Under FRDA II, silviculture activities and surveys were carried out on 35,292 hectares in 1994/95 (Table D-2a).

Other accomplishments under the agreement's seven sub-programs included work on sustainable forest development, communications and training, and research. Development continued on an integrated resource inventory system and a linking geographic information system (GIS) program for silviculture. During 1994/95 as well, programs were completed to promote additional secondary and tertiary manufacturing; and economic and social analyses were made of silviculture activities.

Annual activities for the final year of the agreement are forecast at approximately the same level as those in 1994/95. All FRDA II activities are detailed in the FRDA II 1994/95 Annual Report.


Vote 38: Fire Suppression

This vote funds the Ministry of Forests' fire protection programs, under which services are delivered across the province.

The ministry is responsible for wildfire preparedness, fire suppression and fire management. The Protection Program:

The program is divided into two major activities: direct fire fighting and fire preparedness. Under the direct fire fighting program, Forest Service staff work to protect the forest and range resources, lives, property and other natural resource values from damage by wildfire. These goals include limiting the annual area burned to 35,000 hectares and the amount of timber lost to 1.4 million cubic metres.

The main goal of the fire preparedness program is to maintain the ministry's fire fighting resources in a state of readiness. This includes training fire fighters, refurbishing equipment, making aircraft available, and developing and maintaining the computer systems.

1994/95 Highlights

Direct Fire Fighting

Hot and very dry conditions, combined with an unusually strong lightning storm that spread across the province in early August, made the 1994/95 fire season the worst on record for fire starts. Fire crews responded to 4,088 fires, the highest number ever. Of the fires, 71 per cent were caused by lightning and 29 per cent by human activity. During an average year, crews respond to about 2,900 fires, approximately 50 per cent of which are caused by lightning, and 50 per cent by humans.

The 1994/95 fires damaged 30,310 hectares, well below the 10-year average (Table E-3). The volume of timber lost was slightly more than 3.2 million cubic metres (Table E-4). The season's fire fighting efforts cost $90.9 million (Table 2).

During 1994/95, B.C. had 44 per cent of the nation's fires, but they damaged only 1 per cent of the total national area burned.

The 1994/95 season was marred by the tragic loss of 18 homes in B.C.'s worst interface fire ever. A human-caused fire that began in a Penticton canyon on July 20 managed to damage 5,500 hectares east of the community, as well as cause considerable property damage and loss before it was contained in early August.

During an eighteen-day period between July 20 and August 8, 1994, there were 10 large-scale fires burning in B.C. that caused the evacuation of more than 6,000 residents. During this dry, hot period, more than 2,100 fires were started and 19,000 hectares were damaged.

Complicating an already difficult situation, a lightning storm tracked across the southern half of the province between August 3 and 5, delivering more than 51,000 strikes that ignited 1,200 new fires, primarily in the Kamloops and Nelson forest regions.

On August 6, 1994, there were 1,061 fires burning in B.C. and more than 5,000 B.C. and other fire fighters working to control the situation.

Fire Preparedness

During 1994/95, Protection staff made significant advances in computer technologies, particularly in the development of a new resource management system to track aircraft, vehicles and other resources.

Aviation staff supported the Protection Program and other ministry activities by flying 37,158 hours for wildfire suppression and 14,669 hours for other programs.

The Protection Program continued to receive international recognition in 1994/ 95 as a world leader in wildfire control and suppression. Throughout the year, international visitors met with Protection Program staff to further their training and expand international partnerships. The program continues to seek out and expand international partnerships and expects to assist other countries in building successful wildfire suppression programs in their own countries.


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