Review of government’s forest practices monitoring released

Forest Practices Board

VICTORIA – The Forest Practices Board has released a new report on monitoring of forest practices: A Special Report on the Forest and Range Evaluation Program.

The board examined the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development’s program, created as part of the implementation of the 2004 Forest and Range Practices Act, and finds the program is not yet meeting its intended outcomes.

When the act was established in 2004, the public expected that effectiveness monitoring would examine how well the practices carried out by forest licensees were achieving government’s objectives for the forest values specified in the legislation.

This information was intended to lead to improvement of both practices and the legislation itself.

“Our review found that a great deal of monitoring and some good evaluation work has been done for some forest values, but others like wildlife habitat and soils still do not have effectiveness monitoring protocols or data collection in place – the program was never fully implemented,” said board chair Tim Ryan.

The review also found that data collected by the program are not necessarily being used to improve practices or adjust the legislation and regulations. Industry expressed concerns with some of the data, which led to reluctance to make changes based on the data.

Government decision-makers said they do not always get the information they need from the program to support the types of decisions with which they are faced.

“In the complex, fast-paced resource management environment of today, decision-makers require the best science-based evidence to support and inform their decisions,” said Ryan. “Effectiveness monitoring is a fundamental part of forest management and continuous improvement.”

The board has made five recommendations to government, including reviewing the design of the program and implementing effectiveness monitoring for all the forest values included in the act.

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government.

The board can investigate and report on current forestry and range issues.

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