We are experiencing an unprecedented loss of fish and wildlife due to the degradation of habitat due to forestry practices. Our aim is to supply two recommendations we believe will help the eleven values in the Forest Range and Practice Act (FRPA) become valued. The purpose is to work in alignment with the province to help facilitate a paradigm shift that is needed to help the wildlife thrive in the province.
Forestry in British Columbia (BC) has adversely affected our province’s ecology more than all other resource sectors combined. The forestry industry’s elevated harvest and practice of replanting dense conifer stands has contributed to the loss of native flora and fauna, decreased the forest's natural ability to resist wildfires, increased flooding, and led to the decline of wildlife populations. Major losses to biodiversity have occurred due to the primary focus of industrial forestry on growth and yield rather than ecological integrity. Our forests need to be healthier for all British Columbians, and the Provincial government has a critical role to play by changing legislation before it is too late for many species to survive.
An immediate need for landscape-level planning is long overdue, with appropriate consideration to how cutting permits are issued. Volume-based Forest Tenures are problematic: no single licensee is responsible, and therefore little-to-no stewardship is occurring. There are better ways to manage our forests that reward stewardship and increased biodiversity. Landscape-level planning needs to occur with more attention given to adequate habitat connectivity, maintenance of edge habitat, responsible cut block sizes, and viable road density.
Increased logging and increased cut block size are significant factors in wildfires and flooding. Equivalent clearcut area (ECA) describes a second-growth block in terms of its hydrological equivalent as a clearcut. This determination of the hydrological effects of logging needs a higher priority. ECA thresholds have exceeded 50% and greater, leading to rapid snowmelt and downstream flooding. The lack of forest cover has also led to increased temperatures on the land while decreasing the land's inability to retain moisture. To better understand the adverse impact of logging in BC, please visit https://earthengine.google.com/timelapse/
British Columbia adopted the lodgepole pine as the conifer species of choice in the 1970s because of its ability to reach harvest maturity in roughly 60 years in the interior of the province (rather than the typical 120 years for other species). The continued widespread reliance on monocultures has proven to be detrimental to the future of our forest industry and BC’s biodiversity.
Deciduous trees need to be included in silviculture plans; a variety of species is better for the ecosystem, provides more beetle- and fire-resistant forests, and is resistant to diseases as well. More consideration needs to be given to natural regeneration and a focus given to replanting the same species that are harvested. Planting the maximum stems per hectare of pine does not create a healthy forest.
Free Growing Legislation
Free Growing (aka Free-to-Grow) refers to a healthy stand of a commercially valuable species, the growth of which is not impeded by competition from plants, shrubs, or other trees. A license holder who reaches free growing is released from any further obligation/liability for that stand. This legislation has created an incentive for fast-growing trees (lodgepole pine), increased density (stems per hectare), and permitted the use of fertilizers and herbicides (glyphosate) – all of which are potentially harmful to biodiversity and wildlife. This practice is simply a narrow-minded, low-cost solution for an industry intent on maximizing profit. Accordingly, short-term profits are usually favoured over the uncertain profits of the future.
The practice of spraying glyphosate is a perfect example of a flawed policy, as it kills the grasses, leaves, berries, and seeds of plants that First Nations harvest for medicinal and edible purposes, and that many mammals depend upon for their survival. Glyphosate also kills bees that pollinate and other critical insects and poses serious risks to wildlife, waterways, and human health in these sprayed areas.
Forest and Range Practice Act (FRPA)
FRPA was introduced in 2004 to replace the Forest Practices Code. FRPA values include biodiversity, cultural heritage, fish/riparian, forage and associated plant communities, recreation, resource features, soils, timber, visual quality, water, and wildlife. Unfortunately, the forest industry pays little-to-no attention to most of these values, focusing instead on maximizing timber supply.
Clear in this language is which priority is first – “without unduly reducing the supply of timber...” This fundamentally undermines the ability to manage forests sustainably. This priority must change.
Under the Forest Act, the Chief Forester determines the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) or the volume of timber approved to be logged annually. AACs are set for timber supply areas, tree farms and woodlots, and are determined by numerous factors including the rate of growth of the forest, different licences and agreements, the use of the area for non-timber related activities, and the “economic and social objectives of the government...for the general region of British Columbia.”
The AAC needs to be reduced and the forest industry needs to be innovative and do more with less timber.
Additionally, requiring the Chief Forester to report to the Ministry of Forests creates a conflict of interest.
The Chief Forester’s decision-making authority needs to be transparent, accountable, and consistent and needs to represent the economic, social, cultural, carbon, and biological values of BC’s forests. The Chief Forester should report to the legislature, instead of to the Ministry of Forests.
Eliminate the volume-based tenure system and replace it with a specific licensee in a specific area.
Amend legislation, including:
Free Growing legislation to reward increasing biodiversity Create silviculture incentives to deactivate roads, plant deciduous trees, and strike “without unduly reducing timber supply” in all FRPA regulations.
Change the reporting of the Chief Forester, so the position reports to the government and not to the Minister of Forests.