Ministry of Forests Annual Report 1995/96
Prior to 1994, the ministry Operations vote was divided into several sub-votes organized around programs. Beginning in the 1994/95 fiscal year, the ministry changed the structure of its Operations vote in order to better reflect the government's stra-tegic priorities, and how ministry programs are delivered through the Forest Service's six regional and 43 district offices.
The ministry Operations vote is now divided into three sub-votes: Corporate Services, Forest Resource Management, and Forest Investment and FRDA II. Each of those sub-votes is examined individually in this annual report.
Accordingly, the branch is responsible for the design and delivery, ministry-wide, of efficient business processes and associated information systems that provide support to the Forest Service's regions and districts. Staff also provide training, advice and technical support.
In the first full year of Business Design's operation, staff were involved in a range of planned and operations-driven activities, including functional restructuring, productivity improvement, systems and applications maintenance, and process improvement.
In 1995/96, Business Design and Development staff developed solutions and tools to meet business needs identified by the Operations Division – relating, in particular, to the successful implementation of the Forest Practices Code.
With input from regional and district clients, and working with other branches, staff in this section launched multi-year projects such as the Pre-harvest Silviculture Assessment module, the Forest Roads Management System, the Integrated Silviculture Electronic Mapping Systems (SEMS), the Five-Year Silviculture Plan Mapping System, and the Situation Assessment for GIS (SAG).
Business Maintenance and Enhancement staff provided maintenance, support and training services for corporate business applications in silviculture, timber, inventory and enforcement during 1995/96. Staff were also able to improve ministry systems in several important ways: work was completed to link ERA, the compliance and enforcement tracking system, with the timber tenure system (FTAS); and the flexibility of FTAS was improved in order to deal with such things as Timber Mark Registry and timber licence changes, and cutblock enhancements. Staff also improved reporting capability for resource inventory data.
After consultation with district staff, Technical Development personnel designed and developed computer-based training modules and materials for ministry employees. They also provided classroom instruction in regions and districts on business processes and associated information systems. In 1995/96, staff in this section also evaluated software in preparation for the opening of the Business Application Support Centre.
As a result of the reorganization of the ministry, Finance and Administration staff handled a wider-than-usual range of human resources issues during 1995/96, in addition to managing the branch's budget and contract administration.
During 1995/96, staff provided support for major legislative initiatives, including development and passage of the Forests Statutes Amendment Act 1996, and development and approval of amendments to the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act regulations.
Corporate Policy and Planning staff participated in the government's Operational Planning Review during this year, and represented the ministry on the government-wide Enhancing Accountability for Performance in the British Columbia Public Sector initiative. They also reviewed and commented on other ministries' proposed legislation, and managed the government's forest-sector initiatives – part of that work was support of the Forest Sector Strategy Committee discussions, including initial discussions regarding the Jobs and Timber Accord.
In collaboration with Ministry of Forests divisions, branch staff also managed the ministry-wide implementation of business plans in 1995/96, and prepared the Five-Year Forest and Range Resource Program, 1995-2000.
Also during this year, staff developed a pilot program to improve lumber supply to remanufacturers, and provided support to Forest Renewal BC, which included managing a $100 million investment program for 1995/96, and coordinating development of $200 million of Forest Renewal BC resource proposals for implementation in 1996/97.
Branch staff prepare economic analyses of a broad range of forest resource matters. They also develop policies to foster the development and economic health of the province's forest resources and forest industry, and to manage forest-related trade matters. In addition, the branch provides funding for forest products research.
Economics and Trade Branch primarily serves the ministry's executive and senior managers. As well, staff respond to information requests from other ministries, other governments, forest companies, and other sector stakeholders.
During this fiscal year, significant work was done to review and manage trade issues affecting the forest products industry's access to export markets – such as the ongoing lumber dispute with the United States, threatened boycotts by environmental groups, and the pinewood nematode problem with the European Economic Union. Economics and Trade Branch staff also reviewed proposals for new forest tenures, and prepared socio-economic analyses assessing the impacts of changing harvest levels as a result of the Timber Supply Review.
Other highlights included:
Some further details:
British Columbia's lumber production in 1995 was 13.8 billion board feet, down 3 per cent from 1994.
The average price of the bellwether indicator for the Interior industry – western spruce-pine-fir 2x4s (kiln dried, random length, standard-and-better grade)– fell from US$343 per thousand board feet in 1994 to US$250 in 1995. Lumber prices declined to less than US$200 in May, and recovered to US$250 at year end.
The North American lumber market softened in 1995, compared to 1994. U.S. housing starts decreased to 1.35 million units from 1.45 million units in 1994. Lumber shipments to the U.S. were 9.5 billion board feet, about the same volume as the year before.
Offshore lumber shipments increased by about 5 per cent, to 3.0 billion board feet.
British Columbia's shipments of market chemical paper-grade pulp decreased by approximately 4 per cent to 3.8 million tonnes in 1995. This decrease was primarily due to a precipitous drop in the worldwide demand for pulp, which occurred during the closing months of 1995.
The average price of northern bleached softwood kraft pulp (NBSKP) in 1995 was US$885 per tonne, up considerably from the 1994 average level of US$573 per tonne. Pulp prices increased throughout most of 1995, reaching US$1,000 per tonne in the third quarter of the year. By year's end, however, both price and demand for pulp decreased dramatically, reflecting a drop in worldwide demand.
British Columbia's newsprint production totalled 1.4 million tonnes in 1995, down 13 per cent from 1994. Production was down, despite some-what stronger prices, due in part to work stoppages which ended in March 1995.
The average U.S. West Coast price of standard newsprint was US$676 per tonne, up considerably from US$464 per tonne in 1994.
Plywood production was 1.7 billion square feet (3/8-inch basis) in 1995, down just slightly from 1994. About 60 per cent of the plywood produced in British Columbia was used in Canada in 1995. Canadian housing starts totalled 113,000 units, down from 153,000 units in 1994. Exports of shakes and shingles in 1995 totalled 19.4 million cubic metres, down from 20.8 million cubic metres in 1994. Close to 98 per cent of B.C. shake and shingle exports go to the U.S.
With encouragement from government, the industry has expanded programs in recent years to encourage value-added processing in the wood products industry. Growth in value-added activities has been steady, and has been boosted even further by investments by Forest Renewal BC. During 1995/96, Forest Renewal BC invested $3.9 million to support further development of the value-added sector.
Jointly funded programs that are designed to develop market and technical information, promote B.C.-made value-added wood products and encourage improved use of the wood resource have wide support throughout the industry.
Seven units in the division supply services and a variety of support to all Forest Service programs.
Audit Services Branch reviews systems, controls and processes within the ministry.
The Employment Equity Office promotes equality in the work-place and diversity in the ministry workforce.
Financial Management Branch provides direction and services to achieve the highest standards of financial management throughout the ministry.
Human Resources Branch is responsible for managing the ministry's extensive human resources. Branch staff provide guidance on recruitment, training and development, classification and compensation, labor relations, and occupational health and safety.
Information Systems Branch provides information management – which includes managing the ministry's computer infrastructure and telephone networks – and technology support. Staff are also responsible for developing new systems.
Revenue Branch is responsible for invoicing, recording and collecting all Crown forest revenue. More than 100,000 invoices are produced each year, accounting for total revenue of $1.7 billion in 1995/96 (including the Small Business Forest Enterprise Program and funds transferred to Forest Renewal BC).
For further Revenue reporting, see the sections Resource Use and Monitoring, Enforcement and Audit under the Forest Resource Management sub-vote.
Technical and Administrative Services Branch provides technical and administrative support for the effective management of the ministry's facilities, vehicles, equipment, assets, and radio and communication systems, to help meet the business needs of the ministry.
Among other significant accomplishments in 1995/96, division staff:
The branch also oversees and develops a variety of communications products, including news releases, publications, displays, speeches and educational material.
This year, the branch established an international communications unit, which arranged tours and meetings for delegates from more than 17 countries around the world.
The branch also participated in provincial and national forest industry trade shows – including displays at the Truck Loggers Convention – for the Forest Practices Code. During 1995/96, more than 36 code guide-books were published, and more than 250,000 copies were sent out to ministry staff, industry, interest groups and other stakeholders. In support of the code, a toll-free (1-800) hotline was established, and nearly 7,000 calls were answered.
The forest education section reproduced more than 60,000 copies of the popular Tree Book in both English and French. As well, the section produced and distributed various posters and activity sheets to children of all ages. Also during 1995/96, Backyard Biodiversity was completed – the final product of the Forest Education Advisory Committee under FRDA II (the Canada - B.C. Partnership Agreement on Forest Resource Development).
In addition, branch staff responded to more than 1,000 letters requesting information about the province's forest industry in 1995/96.
Public Affairs also produced more than two dozen publications for a broad range of readers, including the book A Special Gift for children, the publication Value-Added – A profile of seven businesses increasing the value of each tree grown in British Columbia, and Providing for the Future: Sustainable Forest Management in British Columbia, a publication for international audiences outlining British Columbia's forest practices.
Equally important, staff managed the ongoing development of the Forest Practices Code itself in 1995/96. That work included support for the development of outstanding code guidebooks (approximately 15 were completed in 1995/96), and coordinating development of technical content for a private managed forest land regulation. Branch staff also assisted Operations and Forestry divisions in implementing the guidebooks and responding to implementation issues.
During this year, branch staff managed the ministry's evaluation and strategy for implementing the recommendations of the Clayoquot Sound Scientific Panel, and participated in developing a management framework for mineral, oil and gas exploration. Staff also coordinated public release of two analyses: one comparing the Forest Practices Code to statutes in effect in 14 other jurisdictions, and one analyzing the effectiveness of the Coastal Fisheries Forestry Guidelines at the district level.
Integrated Resources Policy work also includes developing sustainable forest management policies on threatened and endangered species, botanical forest products, future forests, and adaptive management, and advising forest regions, districts and others about the policies.
In 1995/96, staff continued to develop the botanical forest products program, publishing a report on public response to the Pine Mushroom Task Force. The botanical forest products industry, other stakeholders and First Nations generally supported the task force's recommendation to regulate buyers of botanical forest products, so staff began work on the Botanical Forest Products Regulation. The branch also sponsored a workshop on native plant use. Out of that workshop, a Native Plant Society was formed.
During this year, Integrated Resources Policy staff also continued work on various managed wildlife projects and on expanding the adaptive management initiative through training foresters, biologists and technicians on concepts and methods. To increase accessibility, more adaptive management material was added to the already extensive Internet site. Finally, staff identified potential local adaptive management projects around the province, and held planning workshops on managing specific habitat and site-use issues.