RBC Pilot Projects
Updated: March 23, 2010
The B.C. Forest Practices Code was implemented in June 1995. Since then, forest companies have met and in some cases exceeded the code standards. In response, government made changes to reduce code administration costs, which were higher than expected when the code was being developed. The pilot projects will allow government to determine if B.C. is ready to move to a more results-based code.
Results-Based Forest Practices Code Pilot Project: Experimenting with ways to reduce regulatory burden
The Ministry of Forests' pilot project to test results-based forestry is designed to explore new ways to regulate and enforce B.C. forest practices to create efficiency and save costs for both industry and government. Forest management standards will be maintained or enhanced, and the public will be invited to participate.
The project follows up on commitments the premier made at the Cariboo economic summit in May 1999. Enabling legislation was introduced in the legislature in June 1999.
The results-based code pilot project will test forest management techniques on the ground on a variety of tenure sizes and in several areas of the province. This may result in new or revised code regulations. Government wants to find out if there are better ways of achieving the code's goals.
The legislation that allows testing of different ways to regulate forest practices requires that protection of forest resources be at least equivalent to that provided in the Forest Practices Code. Pilot projects must also be consistent with the code's preamble, which defines sustainable use of forests and requires the balancing of the many values of forests while meeting the economic, social and cultural needs of peoples and communities, including First Nations.
The legislation allows the ministers of forests, environment and energy-mines to establish a local public advisory committee to review and report on the acceptability to the public of a proposed pilot project.
There are opportunities for the public to comment, and proponents must submit responses and actions to government addressing the public comments. The public will have access to most pilot-project records and the role of the Forest Practices Board is maintained. A limit of 10 per cent of all allowable cuts (or animal unit months in the case of a range pilot) per forest region has been set. This will also prevent pilots from being concentrated in one region.
Code pilot projects can only be approved only in areas where measurable resource management goals to guide operational activities have been established, either in higher level plans or in other processes designed to balance competing interests and values.
Pilot projects will be assessed annually, and any proposed changes will be introduced as soon as new management techniques are tested and meet the legal requirements. Legislative changes may be needed for any changes to the code on a wider basis.
The pilot-project team will ensure First Nations' interests are considered during the piloting process. The Ministry of Forests will continue to consult with First Nations and ensure the team fulfils its legal duty to prevent infringement on aboriginal rights and title.
The legislation requires that annual reports on code pilot projects be made available, which will add to the accountability of government and licensees for the pilot projects.
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