Changes to Maximum Density Requirements in Silviculture Practices Regulation Section 13


The following are the key Changes to the Silviculture Practices Regulation (SPR) regarding Maximum Density Requirements.

Summary of Key Changes

  • general structure similar to the December 1997 OIC and the April 1, 1998 SPR
  • SPR Section 12 exempts the requirement for max density for all previous SPs
  • SPR Section 13 rebuilds back in the maximum density obligation

This amendment changes the SPR section 13 from the April 1, 1998 version in the following ways:


1.   Background

In October 1987, government introduced the requirement that silviculture prescriptions must specify a "maximum density" for regenerating lodgepole pine and drybelt Douglas-fir stands. The underlying principle was that excessively dense re-stocking of sites following disturbance could reduce merchantable volume or lengthen the time to a viable harvest consistent with the target stocking standard. Spacing treatments to reduce the number of trees below a "maximum density" would constitute a basic spacing obligation for licensees and, therefore, would not be dependent on government's silviculture budget. In 1994, after review with the Honourable Dan Miller and the Honourable Andrew Petter, the maximum density concept was extended to all conifer species.

The Operational Planning Regulation (OPR) requires silviculture prescriptions to specify a maximum density number. This has typically been set at the 5,000 countable stems per hectare figure contained in the Spacing Guidebook. Only trees achieving a minimum height are considered as "competitors" and counted towards the maximum density. Basic spacing treatments were required on stands exceeding the maximum density.
Industry raised concerns about the application of the maximum density requirement to all coniferous species and expressed the need to have numbers that are tailored to individual management unit objectives.

In 1996, a team of ministry and industry representatives was appointed by the Chief Forester to assess best available information. Over a two year period, Guidelines for Developing Stand Density Management Regimes were developed to replace the Spacing Guidebook . The guidelines provide guidance for maximum density numbers and will be available in February 1999.

The Guidelines for Developing Stand Density Management Regimes provide an analytical framework for rationalizing spacing treatments based on biological, economic, and forest level analysis. Both government and industry are in agreement that the guidelines should be implemented. Implementation of the guidelines and a Chief Forester policy will potentially reduce the amount of maximum density spacing that is currently required.

In December 31, 1997, the SPR was amended to provide a temporary reduction in maximum density obligations while the guidelines were being trained and implemented. These changes were included in the new SPR introduced April 1, 1998.

The December 17,1998 OIC amends section 13 of the SPR to set the default maximum density at 10 000 sph for all current and future silviculture prescriptions. The amendment now makes provisions for the Regional Manager to specify other numbers using the guideline and Chief Forester's Policy. The changes to the regulation provide for significant relief from much of the potential spacing obligations contained in approved silviculture prescriptions.

The Regional Manager may determine different maximum density numbers through the use of the Chief Forester policy and guideline. The actual costs for basic spacing due to any new maximum density numbers will not be known until they have been developed.
Areas which are not spaced as a maximum density obligation may be spaced using Forest Renewal BC or other government funds, subject to funding availability and priorities.

This initiative is part of the Jobs and Timber Accord Agreement which requires the ministry to implement the guidelines. The Council of Forest Industries representatives have been consulted regarding changes to this regulation and are in agreement with the changes. The changes have been discussed with the MELP.

Given that the majority of spacing in the immediate future will be coming from FRBC or other government sources, it is important to ensure that the density management activities are well designed and implemented. The MOF is working with FRBC to try and secure funds to carry out strategic silviculture forest level analysis so that the right types and amounts of stand density management activities are done. It is expected that in the short term that the principles of the new guidelines and policy will be used to help design and rationalize FRBC and other government funded stand density management. Once sound regimes have been developed, they can be a basis for Regional Manager determined maximum density numbers.

2.  Intent of Silviculture Practices Regulation Sections 12 and 13 of the (Content as of December 17, 1998).

Section 12 exempts the obligations for maximum density as created in Section 70 of the Forest Practice Code Act. This section is intended to exempt industry and the SBFEP from past maximum density requirements contained in approved SP's. It is intended to exempt them from any requirements to carry out spacing treatments to produce a free growing stand in accordance with existing SP contents. Section 13 establishes new maximum density obligations for these SPs.

Section 12 (1)

This section exempts government from maximum density requirements as currently contained in approved Silviculture Prescriptions

Section 12 (2)

This section exempts holders of a major licence or woodlot licence from maximum density requirements currently contained in approved Silviculture Prescriptions.

Section 12 (3)

This section exempts the SBFEP, major and woodlot licence holders from requirements to carry out spacing treatments.

Section 13

This section establishes new maximum density obligations to replace the exemptions given in SPR Section 12. Under this new Section, the District Manager no longer has the authority to set out Maximum Density Numbers. The authority to deviate from 10,000 sph resides with the Regional Manager.

Section 13 (1)

This section specifies that the maximum density of all SPs approved on or after April, 1994 will be considered to be 10,000 or another number specified by the Regional Manager. If the number of coniferous trees exceeds 10,000 or a number specified by the Regional Manager, the SP holder must reduce the stand density to the post-spacing density range specified in the SP.


Section 13 (2)

This section specifies that the maximum density of all SPs approved before April, 1994 will be considered to be 10,000 or another number specified by the Regional Manager. If the number of lodgepole pine or drybelt Douglas-fir trees exceeds 10,000 or a number specified by the Regional Manager, the SP holder must reduce the stand density to the target stocking standard specified in the SP or to within a range specified by the District Manager.

In SPs approved prior to April 1, 1994, there was no specification of post-spacing densities to be achieved on areas with a maximum density obligation. This section clarifies what the post spacing density must be before the end of the free growing assessment period.

Section 13 (3)

This section gives the Regional Manager statutory authority to specify a maximum density number other than 10,000 provided that he is satisfied it is necessary in order to ensure that the forest resources are adequately managed and conserved. The regional manager may only create different maximum density numbers if the chief forester has established policies and guidelines.

Section 13 (4)

This section is intended to provide the regional manager with the authority not to deviate from the default maximum density standard. He can not be compelled to specify another number if he does not wish to specify another number. The intent of this section is to allow Regional Managers to have full control over when and if he wishes to deviate from the default maximum density number.

Section 13 (5)

This section is intended to allow the Regional Manager (RM) to selectively specify different maximum density numbers for different areas and species. This can be done on a management unit basis but can also be specified on a special ecosystem basis (i.e. cedar-salal hemlock sites), special habitat basis (i.e. mule deer winter range), ecosystem basis, or other appropriate basis.

The RM must send a written notice of any new specifications of maximum density numbers to holders of SPs before they are required to comply with the specification. This is intended to be accomplished by the RM sending a letter to SBFEP and Industry. The letter is expected to detail the areas and/or species that have a new specification. The specification can be for all new SPs and for all previous SPs, or selectively applied on an area or species basis.

Section 13 (6)

This section gives the chief forester the authority to establish, vary or cancel policies and guidelines regarding the RMs specification of different maximum density numbers. The section also provides the chief forester with the ability to establish, vary or cancel policies and guidelines respecting the characteristics of trees that must be counted for the purposes of determining maximum density obligations. This can include countable height and health conditions.

Initially the "Guidelines for Developing Stand Density Management Regimes" is the Chief Forester's guidelines. The "Stand Density Management Policy" is the Chief Forester's Policy for stand density management. It is anticipated that over time the Chief Forester may issue additional policies and guidelines for specific areas or stand density management issues. These documents will be widely available in February 1999.

Section 13 (a) (iii) and 13 (6) (b) gives the Chief Forester the authority to make different guidelines for matters related to stand density management and policies, and guidelines for different areas and species. This section could be potentially be used to create guidelines for special wildlife habitat or riparian management features.

Section 13 (7)

This section is intended to compel the RM to follow the policies and guidelines developed by the Chief Forester.

Section 13 (8)

The intent of this section is to ensure that policies and guidelines developed by the Chief Forester will be available to the public. Initially, a limited number of printed copies of the policy and guidelines will be forwarded to all regions and districts. Additional copies of the material can be accessed through the World Wide Web address for the Forest Practices Branch (https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfp/pubs.htm)

Section 13 (9)

This section sets out the minimum countable height standards for the purposes of free growing surveys, tallying coniferous trees and determining if the maximum density of trees has been exceeded and a spacing is required. This section also gives the chief forester the authority to specify other criteria that the trees must have (i.e. health).

3.  Questions and Answers

Question 1
Prior to the Regulation being amended, we were required by the Chief Forester to include a statement indicating that the DM can revise maximum density on or before June 15, 2000. As the revised Regulation changes this authority to the RM and deletes the date it's obvious we should not use the existing statement in new SP's. Is it necessary to include a revised statement regarding maximum density changes in the SP?

Answer 1
No. The revised Regulation makes it unnecessary to include a revised statement regarding maximum density changes in the SP. Approved or submitted SP's containing the reference to the DM and maximum density changes do not need to be revised or amended, as there is sufficient latitude in the revised Regulation to supersede references to the DM.

Question 2
What silviculture systems does 10,000 countable stems per hectare apply to?

Answer 2
Maximum density, in the revised Regulation is 10,000 sph for all silviculture systems including single tree selection (STS). The maximum density of 10,000 sph only applies to layer 3 for STS.

Question 3
How does Section 13 (9) apply to areas under silviculture prescriptions?

Answer 3
Subsection 9 (a) applies to all silviculture systems except STS. Subsection 9 (b) only applies to layer 3 STS. This means that all trees in layer 3 are counted towards the maximum density as it applies to STS. Layers 1, 2 and 4 do not count towards maximum density as it applies to STS.
In the case of uniform or irregular shelterwood and any other systems where multi- layer standards may be used, other than STS, coniferous trees to be counted shall be determined as per Subsection (9)(a) not Subsection (9)(b).

Subsection (9)(c) may apply to any silviculture system.


This document and supporting documentation can be found at the Forest Practices Branch website at (https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hfp/pubs.htm)

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This page was last updated on February 10, 1999.
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