Ministry of Forests Annual Report 1995/96

Ministry of Forests Annual Report 1995/96 Table of Contents



The FRDA II (the Canada - B.C. Partnership Agreement on Forest Resource Development) section of this sub-vote funds all activities that qualify for cost-sharing under the agreement.

1995/96 Highlights

This was the last full year of activities for FRDA II. The five-year, $180 million, 50/50 cost-shared agreement (1991 to 1996) between the federal government and the province was a major regional development initiative designed to promote the sustainable development of the forest resources of British Columbia. To meet this overall objective, the agreement was designed to enhance the environmental health of the forests, stimulate the economic and social prosperity of British Columbia and Canada, and address the future growth of the forestry community.

FRDA II consisted of seven major programs. In 1995/96, the province was involved in completing projects and activities in sustainable forest development, communications and extension, research in sustainable forest development, opportunity identification, economic and social analysis, and coordination, implementation and evaluation (refer to Table D-2 for expenditures). Projects in small-scale forestry were done by the Canadian Forest Service.

The two largest programs under FRDA II, sustainable forest development, and research in sustainable forest development, are reported on, below.

Sustainable forest development

The largest program in FRDA II, sustainable forest development, included stand-tending, development of forest resource inventories, and projects in silvicultural systems and hardwood management.

Under FRDA II, silviculture activities and surveys were carried out on 31,846 hectares in 1995/96 (Table D-2a). This was down 10 per cent from last year's accomplishments due to increased Forest Renewal BC funding for these activities.

In addition to land-based activities, the Ministry of Forests worked on more than 97 projects. Much of the work supported operational activities through the development of guidelines, handbooks, manuals and standards. Work continued, to:

Research in sustainable forest development

FRDA II research has contributed to a better understanding of forest ecosystems and their functions. Tremendous strides have been made in forest renewal, hardwood/mixed-wood silviculture, vegetation management options, growth and yield, biodiversity, old-growth management, and environmental impact assessment. This knowledge, in turn, helped bring about development of operational guidelines and more ecologically sensitive forest practices. These are now incorporated in the Forest Practices Code, providing better protection for our forest resources, as well as greater certainty for the forest industry.

Since this was the last full year of funding support for more than 60 research projects, concerted efforts were made to complete projects and transfer the results to field practitioners.

Work continued, to:

Further highlights of provincial accomplishments under the FRDA II Research Program are provided in FRDA II Program 3.0 - Research, B.C. Ministry of Forests Highlights and Accomplishments, FRDA Report 248.

Other FRDA II programs

In the last full year of activity, project completion and extension of results were given high priority. A significant number of publications, workshops and seminars were delivered by staff in 1995/96.

A final evaluation was completed on FRDA II in March 1996. The over-all objective of the final evaluation was to assess the effectiveness of the management and activities of the agreement. In general, FRDA II was considered a success, generating nearly 2,600 person-years of employment, treating approximately 107,500 hectares of juvenile forests, and providing numerous research initiatives over its five-year term.

All work on FRDA II must be completed by December 31, 1996. The nine-month period after March 31, 1996 will allow for all projects to be completed and the results transferred to the forest community through publications and extension material.

Additional information on 1995/96 activities is available in the FRDA II 1995/96 Annual Report.

Vote 37:

Fire Suppression

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

The Ministry is responsible for wildfire preparedness, fire suppression and fire management. The mandate of the program is to:

The Protection Program is divided into two major activities: direct fire fighting and fire preparedness. The annual goals for these programs continue to focus on the prevention and suppression of wildfires.

1995/96 Highlights

Direct Fire Fighting

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

Unseasonably warm and dry spring conditions across much of the province brought an early start to the 1995 fire season. Crews were called into action to handle a rash of spring fires, including a 15,000-hectare fire in early June near he community of Fort Ware, northwest of Prince George. This fire forced the evacuation of the community's 250 residents for a week as fire managers battled strong winds and dense timber in their efforts to contain the fire.

During the traditional warmth of July and August, unusually damp and cool conditions resulted in very quiet fire activity, although a warmer fall brought numerous fires, including a blaze near Boston Bar that combined with stalled Fraser Valley air to create unpleasant air conditions throughout the Lower Mainland.

The fall also saw several lightning-caused fires in northwestern B.C. grow into a 10,000-hectare blaze that fire managers used to rehabilitate badly depleted wildlife habitat.

British Columbia's lower-than-usual number of summer fire starts meant that the province could offer extensive support to other provinces, as Canada recorded its worst fire season ever, with more than seven million hectares damaged by wildfire.

B.C. was a keen partner in the national fire suppression effort, loaning more than 800 staff, 10 aircraft, more than 600,000 feet of hose, 300 tents and assorted other B.C.-based equipment to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and the Northwest Territories between June and August.

While the rest of Canada battled its worst season on record, crews in this province responded to 1,474 fires, 76 per cent of which were caused by human activity, and 24 per cent triggered by lightning. During an average year, fire crews respond to about 2,723 fires, 51 per cent of which are usually caused by lightning, and 49 per cent by humans.

The 1995 fires damaged 48,080 hectares, up from the 10-year average of 30,363 hectares (Table E-3). The larger-than-usual area damaged can be attributed to three large northern fires that damaged more than 28,000 hectares.

The timber lost during the season was 3.4 million cubic metres (Table E-4), and the season's fire fighting efforts cost $38.5 million (Table 2).

Aviation staff supported the Protection Program by flying 15,036 hours for wildfire suppression.

Fire Preparedness

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 sophisticated computer systems.

In meeting that goal, the Protection Program continued to receive international recognition in 1995/96 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 with other countries that are building successful wild-fire suppression programs in their own countries.

The Protection Program continues to work with local fire departments around the province to help protect homes and communities from wildfire. As international attention focuses on the devastating effects of wildfire on lives and communities, British Columbia is increasing public education and other initiatives to encourage homeowners to safeguard their property from the spread of fire.

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