Statement on the August 2015 Forest Practices Board Report
The Forest Practices Board (FPB) report on Forest Stewardship Plans (FSPs) released today falls short of properly informing the public on how forest resources are managed. The Report fails on three major accounts: 1. Their assertion that FSPs are the sole opportunity for the public to comment on operational plans ignores the extensive consultation with stakeholders, First Nations, the public, resource professionals and government agencies that foresters undertake in planning forest activities on-the-ground. It also ignores that the public interest in forestry is embodied in extensive legislation, regulation and policy that direct and prescribe how forest resources are developed. Finally, it ignores that FSPs are only one of dozens of science-based, professionally-developed operational plans required before activities can commence on-the-ground. 2. The FPB did not examine forest practices on-the-ground. The reality is that on-the-ground results are the true test of the success of the Forests, Range and Practices Act (FRPA) and the B.C. record proves exemplary compliance by companies in achieving the government’s objectives with FRPA. Companies operating on public lands across this province are routinely inspected through third party certification, Ministry Compliance and Enforcement Inspections, and Forest Practice Board audits. The reports are available to the public and the results speak for themselves. While not perfect, we have a global reputation for world-class forest stewardship while striving to support a globally competitive industry. 3. The development of FRPA and the attendant FSPs were based on 10 goals and principles. The FPB only considers three of them in their assessment thus, providing an incomplete picture. These three failures erode the credibility and conclusions of the FPB report. Not surprisingly, we do not agree with many of the FPB’s conclusions. However, what we do agree with is the need to ensure we are effectively engaging and encouraging public input in forest resource planning. We have room for improvement and are extremely interested pursuing ways to effectively further engage the public in our management. We acknowledge that writing FSPs that can support government decision-making while also being understood by the general public is a challenge. FSPs are complex because they must meet the requirements of FRPA and other legal requirements. As the FPB notes, government objectives can be simple and straightforward or very complex and, as such, it follows that writing measurable and verifiable strategies and results or practical and appropriate measures is challenging. The forest industry, along with the Association of BC Forest Professionals (ABCFP) have already made strides in addressing improvements to FSPs that address many of the FPB’s complaints. Now, with the Report, we will review the recommendations in order to improve public review and comment on forest resource development. That work will be ongoing as we strive for continuous improvement in our forest stewardship.