Becoming familiar with the B.C. forestry system
A Guide For Taking Action: Part 5
Forestry in B.C. is an incredibly complex system
Don’t worry if you don’t have a deep knowledge of forestry law or the language used in forestry. All knowledge is valuable. You have a right to understand what is happening in the forest around you, and you have a right to have your voice heard, regardless of how well-versed you are in technical forestry jargon.
Open up the two tabs below to better understand the provincial forestry system and how you can learn more about a specific place.
Option 1: Learn about the provincial forestry system
Option 1: Learn about the provincial forestry system.
The Ministry in charge of forest management is the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD). The main legislation used to regulate forestry in B.C. is the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Forest Planning and Practices Regulation.
Learn about who controls the forests in British Columbia.
Think about Indigenous peoples, the public, the provincial government, forest professionals, multi-national corporations, local forest companies and international customers.
Here are some resources to get you started:
Webinar: Privatized Public Forests and How to Change the Story.
The Forest and Range Evaluation Program (FREP) is the way that FLNRORD monitors the impact of logging on forests. The program assesses how a logging block has impacted the 11 values identified in the Forest and Range Practices Act (things like water, biodiversity and soils). The FREP website includes reports that describe the monitoring results and training materials to help you monitor the impacts of harvesting yourself.
The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for forest management. When there is a complaint about forestry, the Forest Practices Board can do an investigation and determine whether the logging company or government was following current forestry law. There are many interesting reports on their website.
There is a growing movement in B.C. calling for a paradigm shift in forestry.
Here are some resources to help you learn more about this movement:
The 2020 B.C. government commissioned a report on the state of old-growth forests in B.C. This report, titled A New Future for Old Forests, provides a plan for a paradigm shift in forest management. The executive summary is an excellent short read.
Start following independent media that is reporting on the movement. The Narwal and The Tyee are good examples.
Follow the Facebook groups or pages of environmental non-profits such as Sierra Club BC, Conservation North, Wildsight, Ancient Forest Alliance, Wilderness Committee, and Stand.earth.
Find local grassroots campaigns in your community.
A growing movement that includes many forest industry professionals is in the Facebook group called BC Forestry Reform.
Option 2: Learn about a specific place
Option 2: Learn about a specific place.
If you are concerned about a specific place (or a specific forest) you need to learn as much as you can about what is planned for the area.
Here are some suggestions:
If you are part of an Indigenous community, is there protocol to follow to learn more about an issue in your territory?
Here are some questions to consider when researching a topic and following protocol:
Who can you talk to and learn about the protocol in this instance?
If you’re working with an elected leadership system, does the elected leadership also include cultural voices that you could speak with?
Does your community have a specific process for engaging with the provincial government? Some communities have meaningful consultation policies or other protocols that can help you learn about what’s happening in your territory.
Gain access to all the plans that you can. Our current forest legislation puts limits on the public availability of forest plans. Indigenous communities have a right to all information.
Here are some ways to access plans:
Talk to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD). Call your local District Office and ask about what information you can access. Use this website to find your District Office.
Use online mapping tools to find information. You can zoom into the area you are concerned about to find out if there are planned cutblocks and who the logging company is.
Use iMapBC. In the left menu under “Build your map,” choose “add layers now.” Next, choose “Licenses and Permits.” In most cases you are probably most interested in “Forest Cut Blocks” and, under this topic, “Active Forest Cut Blocks” (choose “colour themed” to distinguish) and “Pending Forest Cut Blocks” (choose “outlined” to distinguish). You can also check out active and pending roads. Within a few seconds your map should show the chosen information, but it will only show the requested information if you have zoomed into the map sufficiently. To explore further, click on “identify” and choose a cutblock to find out about the operator, hectares and other information.
Habitat Wizard is another similar online mapping system to explore.
Talk with the logging company (also called the “licensee”) to gain access to plans. The licensee has few obligations for sharing information. Do your best to gain access to as much as you can. Here is some information that will be useful for you to find:
Forest Stewardship Plan. These plans are available to the public and are usually posted on a logging company’s website. This is a plan that the logging company must complete every five years. It shows the areas that they operate in and explains how they will protect the values on the land while they do their logging activities. It does not show the location of planned roads or cutblocks.
Site Plan. A Site Plan is a detailed plan for how the logging company will log a specific block. The logging company must make this available for public viewing in their office, but they are not required to share copies. You will need to talk to the logging company if you want to see the Site Plan.
Certifications that the company has, such as Forest Stewardship Council or Sustainable Forestry Initiative certification. If a company is certified, you can review what standards the company must operate under in order to maintain the certification.
Archaeological assessments. These are completed for each cutblock (usually with involvement of the local Indigenous community). Members of Indigenous Nations should be able to access this information. If you’re part of an Indigenous community, ask a knowledgeable relative or friend who can help you access this information. Archaeological assessments are not available to the general public.
Assessment reports such as terrain stability assessments, visual impact assessments and hydrological assessments. The company has no legal requirement to share these reports.
Ask the company what kind of public input they’ve considered. Bring your concerns to the company and go through each one, asking how they have addressed each concern.
Get outside and visit the forest.
Consider all of the beings within the forest and the non-living elements as well. Take note of what you observe through pictures and measurements.
Here are some things to consider:
What is the composition of the forest? What species live here? What non-living elements are here (water, soil, etc)? Are there patterns that you observe (e.g. patterns of dead trees or vegetation types)?
What functions or processes do you observe? Consider the processes of living and dying trees, decomposition, water movement, the food chain and other processes.
What is the condition of the forest? How has the forest been modified by humans?
Who can I bring out here that will have a unique perspective? This could be an Indigenous Elder, a forest technologist or a grandchild.
What questions do you have that you can’t answer, and how will you find the answers to them?
Action Taker’s Guide Table of Contents: