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  • Library: The need to reform BC forest legislation

    Raven Tree
    There is a lot of forest-related legislation in BC, so many acts and regulations that few people comprehend how each act or set of regulations governs BC forests are managed. Below is a list of the legislation we have identified so far, with links to the appropriate pages of BC Laws.
    Fisheries Act & Regs
    Forest Act & Regs
    Forest and Range Practices Act & Regs
    Forest Fire Prevention and Suppression Regulation
    Forest Planning and Practices Regulation
    Forest Practices Code of BC Act & Regs (mostly repealed)
    Forest Stand Management Fund Act
    Foresters Act
    Forestry Revitalization Act
    Government Actions Regulation
    Great Bear Rainforest (Forest Management) Act
    Integrated Pest Management Act
    Land Act & Regs
    Logging Tax Act & Regs
    Ministry of Forests and Range Act
    Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (Forestry Operations and Similar Activities)
    Private Managed Forest Land Act & Regs
    Protected Areas Forests Compensation Act
    Range Act & Regs
    Riparian Areas Protection Act & Regs
    Special Tree Protection Regulation
    Tree Farm Licence Management Plan Regulation
    Wildfire Act & Regs
    Wildlife Act
    Woodlot Licence Planning and Practices Regulation
    Woodworker Lien Act & Regs
    Logging Tax Remission Regulation

    Evergreen Alliance Staff
    By the Ancient Forest Alliance
    While the vast majority of industrialized nations, including the USA, Europe, Japan, and the rest of Canada, are logging 50- to 100-year-old stands, including second and third-growth forests, the status quo of old-growth liquidation is still underway across large parts of British Columbia. BC must also complete the transition to a second-growth forest industry for environmental and economic reasons. If the BC government were to promote policies that support greater processing and value-added manufacturing of second-growth logs in the province, the total number of forestry jobs could be sustained and even increased while old-growth logging is quickly phased out.
    Over the past century, the overcutting of the biggest, best, and most accessible stands of old-growth redcedars, Douglas-firs, and Sitka spruce in the lowlands that historically built the wealth of the forest industry – and for which coastal sawmills were originally built to process – has resulted in diminishing returns as the trees get smaller, lower in value, different in species profile, and harder to reach higher up the mountainsides and in the valley headwaters. Today, according to BC Forest Service data, 75% of the productive old-growth forests on BC’s southern coast have been logged, including well over 90% of the most productive old-growth stands in the valley bottoms where the largest trees grow.
    In the last two decades, more than 100 major BC mills have closed and employment levels in BC’s forestry sector have declined dramatically, from 99,000 jobs in 2000 to 65,000 in 2015, constituting a loss of one-third of all forestry jobs in that time.[1] As old-growth stands are depleted and harvesting shifts to the second-growth stands which now dominate most of the province, B.C.’s coastal forestry jobs are being exported as raw logs to foreign mills due to a lack of government incentives and regulations to ensure the retooling of old-growth mills to handle the smaller second-growth logs and to facilitate new investments in related manufacturing facilities.
    At a critical juncture in 2003, the BC Liberal government removed the local milling requirements (through the misnamed “Forestry Revitalization Act”), known as appurtenancy, thus allowing tenured logging companies to shut down their old-growth mills instead of being forced to retool them to handle the changing forest profile of second-growth trees (and smaller old-growth species, such as hemlock and amabilis fir). At the same time, the BC Liberal government failed to enact any major incentives or regulations in lieu of appurtenancy to attract new manufacturing investments. With the closure of many BC mills, most logs became surplus to the domestic milling capacity, thus paving the path for BC’s logging companies to undertake the mass export of raw logs to foreign mills in nations willing to pay higher prices for BC logs.
    That being said, in many cases, existing BC mills continue to need domestic logs that are intended for export. Unfortunately, independent mills are typically hesitant to bid on the logs for fear of being excluded from future, long-term direct sales agreements with the same logging companies that have tenure or land, as most mills require a secure log supply through direct sales contracts. Bidding on raw logs (or “blocking”) is therefore a secondary source of logs in relation to direct sales contracts and is potentially risky, as it could jeopardize their relationship with one of the few major companies with logging rights. The resulting inaccessibility and uncertainty of wood fibre for many mills helps to continue the marginalization and decline of BC’s coastal wood manufacturing sector.
    Forestry unions and conservationists are calling on the BC government to enact the needed regulations and incentives to instead bolster the secondary, second-growth wood manufacturing sector. The Private and Public Workers of Canada (PPWC) and Unifor, two major forestry unions representing thousands of BC forestry workers, have been working closely with environmental groups to upgrade environmental standards and forestry employment. In 2017, the PPWC passed a resolution calling on the BC government to end the logging of Vancouver Island’s old-growth forests, while ensuring a sustainable, value-added second-growth forest industry, an end to raw log exports, and support for First Nations sustainable economic development.
    The following set of policy recommendations is designed to help the provincial government fulfill these commitments. They involve applying a system of incentives and regulations to support a vibrant forest industry, ensuring good paying jobs for working families through the sustainable harvesting and value-added manufacturing of second-growth stands.
    Note: As our agenda calls for an industry-wide shift to second-growth forestry before the province’s old-growth resource is completely depleted, an important first step is to create a distinction between old-growth and second-growth forests in the province’s Annual Allowable Cut. This will ensure the following second-growth forestry and value-added manufacturing policies are geared toward the right wood source and will allow the BC government to more effectively manage the rate of old-growth logging.
    The set of policy recommendations is as follows:
    Provide fiscal incentives, such as eliminating the PST for new second-growth milling equipment, reducing property taxes on private managed forest lands and reducing tenure licencing fees on Crown lands for companies that invest in second-growth manufacturing. Conversely, increasing stumpage fees or the fee in lieu (log exports tax) can generate a pool of funds that can be used to offset new manufacturing investment costs. Curb raw log exports through regulations and by increasing the fee in lieu (log exports tax). Expand the geographic scope of log export regulations and the fee in lieu (log exports tax) to include private managed forest lands that were previously encompassed within Tree Farm Licences managed by the province. Help market sustainable, value-added second-growth forest products using proceeds from stumpage fees or other sources. Support First Nations to engage in sustainable, second-growth forestry through conservation financing and skills training. Support high-end, value-added wood working training in post-secondary institutions, including apprenticeships. Undertake structural changes, such as tenure diversification (Community Forests and First Nations tenures) and establishing regional log sorts. POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
    1) Facilitate Value-Added Manufacturing through Fiscal Incentives
    The province should implement financial instruments as powerful incentives for companies to retool old-growth mills to process second-growth logs and to develop new value-added facilities. Such incentives could include allowing companies to forgo the PST on new second-growth milling equipment (which is part of the Green Party platform), reducing property taxes on private managed forest lands, or reducing stumpage fees and/or tenure licencing fees (e.g. for TFLs and FLs) on Crown lands for companies that invest in second-growth mills and value-added facilities.
    As stumpage fees are tied to BC Timber Sales prices and reductions in stumpage fees may result in further challenges by the US softwood lumber industry, conversely, an increase in stumpage fees could instead be implemented, with the surplus fees collected from the increase to be used as a funding source to offset the cost for companies investing in second-growth manufacturing facilities.  
    Similarly, an increase in the “fee in lieu of manufacture” or log exports tax will not only dissuade log exports, but the funds collected from the increase can also be redirected to help offset the cost for companies investing in second-growth manufacturing facilities.
    We recommend the BC government also incentivize the development of second-growth engineered wood products, including laminated veneer and gluelam products and thermally treated second-growth, through 1) similar fee incentives as mentioned above, 2) increased financing for R&D, and 3) increased markets development for engineered second-growth wood products, which match old-growth wood products in strength, stability, durability, and aesthetics and are largely at a lower price point today.
    2) Curb Raw Log Exports through Regulations and by Increasing the Fee in Lieu of Manufacture (i.e. log exports tax)
    Between 2013 and 2016, nearly 26 million cubic metres of raw logs valued at more than $3 billion were shipped from B.C to foreign mills in China, the USA, Japan, Korea, and other nations. The nearly 6.3 million cubic metres exported from B.C. in 2016 is enough wood to build 134,000 houses – roughly half of Vancouver’s standing detached housing stock. [2] Using a conservative estimate, more than 3,600 B.C. workers could have been employed processing that wood. The massive export of raw logs has been driven by a combination of the BC government’s deregulation of the forest industry and by the industry’s unsustainable depletion of the biggest, best old-growth trees at lower elevations. The depletion has caused a shift in the profile of the forest, which increasingly features smaller second-growth trees and old-growth “hem-bal” (hemlock and amabilis fir) stands that coastal mills generally have not been retooled to handle.
    The previous BC Liberal government facilitated log exports via numerous policies, including the removal of the local milling requirements in 2003, which allowed tenured logging companies to shut down their mills and export raw logs. They also issued vast numbers of log export permits throughout the coast, provided a general exemption from log export restrictions for companies on the North Coast, and removed Tree Farm Licences from vast areas of coastal private managed forest lands (which removed the Crown restrictions on log exports from them). These destructive policies must be remedied with corrective policies by the NDP government.
    In 2018, a group of environmental organizations and unions, including the Ancient Forest Alliance, Wilderness Committee, Sierra Club of BC, Public and Private Workers of Canada, and Unifor, together with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, proposed a ban on all old-growth raw log exports and an increase in the fee in lieu of manufacture (i.e. the log export tax) for second-growth raw logs to curb their export and to encourage domestic processing. It is therefore recommended the BC government phase in an increase in the fee in lieu to match the price differential for international log sales to dissuade log exports, and as mentioned in point #1, redirect the extra funds to help offset the expenses for companies investing in new second-growth manufacturing equipment.
    3) Expand Log Exports Regulations and the Fee in Lieu to Include Private Managed Forest Lands previously within TFLs
    In 1998 the NDP government allowed TimberWest to remove over 300,000 hectares of private managed forest lands from their Tree Farm Licences, while the BC Liberal government did the same in 2004 for over 90,000 hectares of Weyerhaeuser’s lands (now owned by Mosaic) and in 2006 for 28,000 hectares of Western Forest Products’ private lands. All told, this massive deregulation, which removed both the general prohibition against log exports that existed in the former TFL lands and the application of the fee in lieu (log exports tax), has resulted in the greatest exodus of raw logs from the province from these private managed forest lands. Given the province has had a long history of regulating these private lands – and continues to do so through property taxation and by regulating the lands under the Private Managed Forest Lands Act – it is well within the legal right of the province to re-extend other regulations to these lands to restrict raw log exports. This is particularly true for the Island Timberlands (now Mosaic) and Western Forest Products lands, as those companies weren’t required to compensate the province despite receiving a windfall increase in the financial value of their lands through the removal of the environmental regulations and log export restrictions via the TFL removal.
    4) Help Market Sustainable, Value-Added Second-Growth Forest Products
    Just as the BC government has spent major funds from stumpage fees on repeated, high-profile trade missions since 2008 to establish markets in China for BC old-growth lumber and raw logs, the NDP government could instead use stumpage fees to expand markets for sustainable, value-added, credibly certified (i.e. Forest Stewardship Council) second-growth forest products in various international jurisdictions, such as the US, Japan, Western Europe, and other parts of Canada, while discontinuing the marketing of old-growth and raw logs.
    5) Support First Nations to Develop Sustainable, Second-Growth Forestry
    Almost all of BC’s forests are located in the unceded territories of BC’s First Nations peoples. In the last several years, logging rights to old-growth forests across the province were allocated to numerous First Nations communities, who had been largely excluded from reaping the economic benefits of BC’s forest industry previously. As a result, today most First Nations communities now generate significant employment and revenues from old-growth logging – either directly through their own forestry operations or through employment and revenue sharing agreements with forestry companies operating within their territories. Many of these communities lack a range of alternative sustainable development opportunities that would support their local economies into the future and allow them to transition away from old-growth logging, should they wish to. Therefore, as part of the transition to a sustainable, value-added second-growth forest sector in BC, the provincial government should commit adequate funds to help support sustainable economic opportunities of First Nations communities, a model known as “conservation financing”.
    Conservation financing includes a variety of innovative financing mechanisms designed to protect ecosystem values for the long term, while also providing a financial return. This might include financing for ecologically sustainable business ventures (including value-added second-growth forestry, sustainable seafood harvesting, non-timber forest products, and tourism), ecosystem services (for example, carbon storage), funding for environmental research projects, or a combination of initiatives.
    Funding for First Nations conservation financing solutions in BC (not including the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii, where such solutions are already being implemented) could be made available through carbon related revenues, funding recently set aside for the Forest Enhancement Society by the previous government, increasing/redirecting stumpage fees, or through other resource taxes.
    The BC government should also support First Nations to acquire training for high-end, value-added wood manufacturing at post-secondary educational institutes and associated apprenticeships in order for their communities to reap the full benefits of their logging tenures by creating jobs and commanding higher prices via value-added forest products.
    6) Increase support for High-End Wood Working in Post-Secondary Institutions and for Apprenticeships
    In many northern European economies, governments play a more active role in matching and supporting post-secondary skills training in educational institutions to the economic sectors that require a skilled work force. If the BC government wants to develop a high-end, value-added wood manufacturing sector, it can also play a more active role in providing financial support for the development of value-added wood products technical training and foster subsequent apprenticeships through post-secondary institutions. Combined with the aforementioned policies to help develop a value-added wood manufacturing sector, support for post-secondary skills training and apprenticeships for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and women will help build both the skilled labour force and a generation of entrepreneurs in BC to develop a higher-end, value-added wood manufacturing sector that can employ far more workers per volume of wood harvested.
    7) Enact Structural Changes
    These can include:
    Establishing Regional Log Sorts
    Many smaller mills and value-added facilities have complained about a lack of access to BC logs, as most logs are sold on a large scale to large mills, or as raw logs at a higher price in international markets. Mandating that BC logging companies with tenures must sell a significant portion of their logs on the open market through regional log sorts (where logs are sorted by species, grade, and in different-sized bundles, from one log to thousands of logs) will help to make wood available to enhance the diversity of BC wood manufacturers, from small to large, from specialized artisans to conventional sawmills. The BC Forest Service ran a regional log sort in Lumby and Vernon in the 1990s, and the BC NDP government could establish similar log sorts across the province.
    Diversifying Tenures to Include More Community Forests and First Nations Tenures
    Community Forests are run partly to provide revenues for municipal services, such as libraries and community centres, but also to provide local jobs, and are not driven by a mandate to enrich shareholders, unlike most of the corporate logging in BC. Hence, there can be a greater emphasis on supporting local manufacturing jobs associated with the logs harvested from Community Forests.
    Similarly, First Nations communities typically have a significant interest in expanding employment opportunities for band members, and therefore may also have an interest in developing wood manufacturing opportunities. Moving from corporate to greater community control over second-growth forestry resources, in general, can facilitate the expansion of a value-added industry due to community interests in maximizing local employment, and should be combined with old-growth forest protection and more sustainable forestry practices. It is recommended the BC Government expand the issuance of community forest licenses and various replaceable First Nations forest licenses.

    Taryn Skalbania
    This 300+ page document, authored by former forests ministry legal counsel Roberta Reader, has been posted for historical context.
    Executive Summary
    With the enactment of the Forest and Range Practices Act (the FRPA), the roles played by government officials in the Ministry of Forests and Range (the MOFR) and the Ministry of Environment (the MOE), as well as the roles played by forest and range tenure holders, have changed in a number of ways. In turn, this has also affected the professionals who advise and assist government officials and tenure holders.
    Many of the regulatory constraints formerly imposed on tenure holders under the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act (the FPC) have not been carried forward into the FRPA. As a result, government officials no longer control many of the decisions that tenure holders make – decisions that can have a profound effect on public forest and range lands. Coming to term with what this means is a challenge shared by government officials, tenure holders, professionals and the public alike.
    The FPC reinforced a common misconception about the powers of government officials. Many have come to believe that, simply by virtue of their office, government officials in the MOFR and the MOE can “dictate” what does (or does not) happen on public forest and range lands. In turn, this has fostered a belief that the expectations of government officials are the most important expectations affecting the management of public lands. However, this is not in fact the case. It was not even the case under the FPC, and it is certainly not the case under the FRPA.
    Within any statutory regime, the most important expectations are those of the Legislature – as set out in the applicable legislation. The next most important expectations are those of the Courts, who are the arbiters of the legislation’s meaning and the legality and fairness of the actions and decisions of government officials. In short, government officials serve the Legislature, under the supervision of the Courts.
    In this regard, it is important to remember that government officials have no “inherent” powers simply because they work for the government. They can only do what they have been given the legal authority to do. As it happens, the FPC gave government officials in the MOFR and the MOE a great deal of power. It authorized – and even required – them to involve themselves in almost every aspect of the management of public forest and range lands. So much so, in fact, that tenure holders were left with almost no decision- making responsibilities of their own.
    The FRPA has changed this paradigm. Many of the responsibilities associated with the role of “steward” – a role traditionally fulfilled by government officials – now fall to tenure holders. This means that tenure holders will have to come to terms with what it means to be a steward.
    A steward is someone who manages property belonging to another person with due regard for the owner’s interests. In the case of public lands, the nominal owner is the government, but the government’s ownership is “burdened” by the duty that it owes to the public. In this regard, the government’s role is akin to that of a trustee, since it holds public lands on behalf of the public. This makes the public the true “beneficial” owners of public lands.
    In turn, this means that government officials and tenure holders alike are accountable to the public for the decisions they make with respect to the management of public forest and range lands. This was true under the FPC and continues to be true under the FRPA. The difference is that, under the FRPA, many more of the decisions that affect these public lands now fall to tenure holders to make, rather than government officials.
    Notwithstanding the larger management role played by tenure holders, the importance of the responsibilities borne by government officials should not be discounted. As the trustee of public forest and range lands, the government – and hence government officials – continue to play an important oversight role, which manifests itself in a number of ways, including:
    The approval of certain plans required by the FRPA, such as the new forest stewardship plan (the FSP), which entails the application of statutory tests governing the preparation and approval of these plans;
    The establishment of objectives, general wildlife measures and other orders governing the management of public forest and range lands, as provided for under the Government Actions Regulation; and
    The enforcement of the statutory obligations that the FRPA imposes on tenure holders.
    This oversight role is an integral part of the FRPA. However, it does not have the same scope that it did under the FPC. Which means that one of the biggest challenges for government officials will be coming to terms with the limitations, as well as the nature, of their new role.
    Even tenure holders may have difficulty accepting that government officials are not
    the final arbiters of what should – or should not – happen on public lands. Indeed, it may come as something of a shock to realize that there are other forces at work, outside the control of government officials, that have a direct bearing on the management of these lands.
    Which brings us to another way in which the FPC may have distorted our perceptions regarding the management of public forest and range lands. In addition to fostering the notion that government officials can and should dictate to tenure holders, the FPC also shifted attention away from a broad range of expectations that arise outside statutory regimes administered by government officials.
    Within the legal realm, of which the FRPA is but one small part, there are other expectations that matter – expectations that owe nothing whatever to legislation, like the FRPA, that creates statutory regimes administered by government officials. The expectations that govern the professionals who advise and assist tenure holders and government officials are a case in point.
    Professionals who are members of one of the self-regulating profession – including professional foresters, biologists, agrologists, engineers and geoscientists – are subject to their own statutory regimes, which are not administered by government officials. The regimes that apply to these professionals are administered by their professional associations, which are charged with imposing and enforcing strict standards of conduct and competence. These standards shape the nature and scope of the advice and assistance that professionals can (or cannot) provide. For this reason, professional standards are, in many respects, as important as, if not more important than, the requirements imposed on tenure holders under the FRPA.
    There are also other expectations arising in the legal realm that exist outside any statutory regime, i.e. they are independent of any kind of legislation. Our legal system consists of two equally important parts: (1) legislation or statute law, and (2) the common law. The latter also has a direct bearing on the management of public forest and range lands.
    Take, for example, the common law principles that govern civil liability. These have evolved – and continue to evolve – through the disputes that the Courts are called upon to arbitrate. Recently, the principles governing civil liability evolved in a rather unexpected way. In 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized a new form of liability, namely liability for environmental damage to public lands. The upshot is that compliance with the requirements of the FRPA – or with any other legislation – may not be sufficient to protect tenure holders – or even the government – from liability for failing to adequately protect public lands or resources.
    Which brings us to the expectations that arise outside the legal realm of statute law and common law. In this paper, the world outside the legal realm is referred to as the “non- legal realm.” Expectations arising in the non-legal realm can also have a profound effect on the management of public forest and range lands.
    In our day-to-day lives, societal expectations, which arise in the non-legal realm, are usually the most powerful influences on our actions and decisions. What our neighbours, clients or customers think of us is generally of greater concern to us than anything the law may require of us in our roles as members of society, public servants, professionals, business-people, landowners, stewards, etc.
    With respect to the management of public forest and range lands, the importance of societal expectations easily rivals that of anything found within the legal realm. The pivotal role played by the environmental movement in B.C. illustrates this point, as do environmentally-conscious marketplace initiatives, such as the certification of forest products.
    Equally important, insofar as forest and range management decisions are concerned, are the expectations created by scientific/technical knowledge. Not only does this knowledge shape societal expectations, it also has a direct bearing on important concepts arising in the legal realm, such as the due diligence defence that applies under the FRPA and the standard of care that applies in the context of a common law negligence suit.
    All of which means that, even though forest and range tenure holders are no longer subject to the tight controls that were formerly exerted by government officials under the FPC, they are by no means free to do whatever they wish. Greater freedom generally leads to greater responsibility, and this is likely to prove true with respect to the actions and decisions of tenure holders.
    In an attempt to “manage” these outside forces, as well to help themselves come to terms with the new statutory regime created by the FRPA, tenure holders and government officials alike may look to guidance documents for “direction.” Unfortunately, guidance and direction are very different concepts. Which does not mean that guidance documents are not useful. Quite the contrary. However, it does mean that these documents can only influence actions and decisions; they cannot control them.
    No one has a monopoly on the development or dissemination of guidance documents. Guidance documents developed by or on behalf of the government are not fundamentally different from guidance documents developed outside of government. In short, anyone – including government officials, tenure holders, professional associations and public interest groups – can provide guidance, as long as they understand its limitations.
    The most important limitation is that no one can be compelled to follow guidance. Compulsion is the defining characteristic of direction. Government officials can only give direction if they have been given the legal authority to do so. The same holds true for tenure holders, professional associations and public interest groups.
    Which means that guidance documents will only be effective if they are useful to – and used by – their intended audience. To that end, it is necessary for guidance documents to be compelling and persuasive. Which brings us back to the importance of scientific/technical knowledge. Guidance in the forest and range management context draws much of its power from this knowledge.
    This paper discusses two important ways in which scientific/technical knowledge can be brought to bear on forest and range management decisions:
    Through the effective use of well-qualified, dedicated professionals; and
    Through the effective use of well-crafted, thoughtful guidance documents.
    The concept of “professional reliance” is predicated on professionals being able to demonstrate their adherence to the highest professional standards. In turn, these standards need to accurately reflect what it means to be a truly competent professional. Professional reliance does not mean “blind reliance.” Reliance is only justified if professionals are true experts in their fields.
    Tenure holders and government officials alike cannot simply accept “on faith” what a professional says. In this context, the process followed by the Courts when considering expert testimony may provide a useful model for the kind of scrutiny that can and should be brought to bear on the advice or opinions proffered by professionals. This is the focus of Chapter 8 of this paper.
    The development of effective guidance documents is also discussed at length in this paper. Appendix 4 focuses specifically on this issue. Readers who are intimidated by the length of the paper, but want to learn more about the development of guidance documents, may find it easier to go directly to Appendix 4, after which they may want to look at the following chapters:
    Chapter 2, which provides an overview of the expectations, arising in the legal and non-legal realms, that affect the management of public forest and range lands;
    Chapter 3, which provides a more detailed discussion of expectations arising inside statutory regimes administered by government officials; and
    The second, third and fourth sections of Chapter 9, which provide an overview of the kinds of guidance documents that may be developed inside and outside of government.
    Finally, a caution for the reader. This paper is very lengthy. The topics it discusses are wide-ranging, just as the expectations that affect the management of public forest and range lands are wide-ranging. Rather than trying to read everything in the paper, you may prefer to focus on those issues that are of particular interest to you. Take a look at the table of contents. If you find a heading that interests you, feel free to “enter” the paper at that point, rather than starting from the beginning. There is sufficient cross- referencing to make this a practicable approach.
    —Roberta Reader
    (2006) The Expectations that Affect the Management of Public Forest and Range Lands in British Columbia: looking_outside_the_legislation.pdf

    Evergreen Alliance Staff
    Backgrounder for the new Forest and Range Practices Act by West Coast Environmental Law.
    With the release of new forest practices regulations effective January 31, 2004, the BC provincial government has now finalized its “results-based” forest management regime. In November 2002, it passed the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA), but the legislation did not contain enough details to give a clear indication of what the overall regime would look like. The government claims to have reduced regulatory requirements by 55% by eliminating unnecessary red tape and paperwork. But in the process, measures designed to protect the environment have been cut. Examples include:
    • Industry writes the environmental results that they are legally required to achieve;
    • Elimination of longstanding requirements for logging plan approvals at the cut block or site level, removing a key method by which government and the public can ensure protection of critical habitat;
    • Extraordinary restrictions on when government can reject a plan for failure to adequately protect resource values;
    • Extraordinary restrictions and bureaucratic hurdles to government taking action to protect environmental values such as wildlife habitat, water quality for community watersheds, and endangered species;
    • Elimination of requirements to undertake precautionary assessments aimed at preventing landslides on steep slopes;
    • Reduced likelihood of forest industry liability for landslides and other environmental consequences;
    • Provision for industry to ‘opt out’ of many of the standards from the previous Code;
    • Greater opportunity for political interference in decision-making;
    • Reduced opportunity for successful enforcement action now that more defences are available for administrative penalties;
    • Reduced accountability for forest companies due to narrow definitions for terms such as “damage to the environment”.
    The Forest and Range Practices Act and regulations bring in a new era of forestry deregulation which places an unprecedented degree of control over public resources in the hands of forest companies. There are inadequate checks and balances in the regulations. The impact of these changes, especially when coupled with major cutbacks to Ministry of Forests staff and budgets, is to reduce public control over forest industry operations on public land.
    (2004) Deregulation Backgrounder — Forest & Range Practices Act.pdf

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