Message from the Chair and
The Board's principal interest in the 2005-06 year has been the implementation of the Forest and Range Practices Act. While the Board's main function of audits, complaint investigations, special investigations and appeals have been continued, the regulatory context has changed. The province is making the transition from a prescriptive Forest Practices Code to a results-based system that on the one hand is reliant on the professional judgment of forest professionals and on the other is dependent on the ability to measure forestry results objectively. Where, in the past, the Board examined practices to determine if they were compliant with regulations under the code, we are now developing procedures to measure the achievement of stewardship objectives set by government for a wide range of forest resources.
Assessing results, instead of compliance with rules, brings with it a number of significant issues. First, the criteria and indicators of effective forestry performance have to be scientifically determined. Second, accurate means of measuring results in the field have to be developed. Thirdly, the measured results on the ground have to be reliably linked to the forest practices of individual forest licensees. The Board is working actively with the Ministry of Forests and Range, Ministry of Environment, university researchers and licensee foresters to develop auditing and investigation processes that address these issues.
As the Forest and Range Practices Act is coming into force, the province is also faced with numerous significant forest practice challenges. Salvage and recovery of Mountain Pine Beetle damaged forest, rehabilitation following large scale wildfires, dealing with rapid expansion of resource access roads, regulation of a growing number of smaller licensees with temporary tenures, managing habitats for species at risk and planning ahead for the consequences of climate change are some of the major issues affecting forest practices that are being tracked by the Board.
Through all these changes and challenges, the cumulative record of forest practice audits has been substantially positive. Forest licensees are conducting operations in compliance with the provisions of the Forest Practices Code, and when examined under the new regime these are proving to be effective in providing stewardship of resources. The question that will likely prove to be the most interesting in the future is how we are to measure and manage the overall cumulative impact of all resource activity on the same land base, putting forestry operations into a realistic perspective alongside their industrial counterparts in other resources sectors such as agriculture, energy, mining and recreation.
The 2005/06 Forest Practices Board Annual Service Plan Report was prepared under my direction and in accordance with the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act. The report compares the actual results to the expected results identified in the Board's 2005/06 Service Plan Update. I am accountable for those results as reported.
Bruce Fraser, Ph.D.
Forest Practices Board Chair
June 30, 2006