Forest Practices Board says cumulative effects of Natural Resource Development “largely unknown and unmanaged”

Mike Carter, Chetwynd Echo Reporter

CHETWYND – When inspectors with the Forest Practices Board came to audit a replanted Canfor cutblock off of the Murray River forest service road, they expected to find young trees in various stages of early growth. Instead, they found a gravel pit developed by a mining company.

“During the standard course of an audit, the auditors and a representative from Canfor flew to this cutblock to assess the regeneration of the plantation, and they had problems finding the cutblock, as nothing on the ground looked similar to the map. Then they realized that half of the cutblock they were looking for has been turned into a gravel pit. The Canfor representative with the auditors was unaware of this gravel pit,” Darlene Oman, Director of Corporate Performance and Communications with the Forest Practices Board explained.“We do not know who built this gravel pit.”

Canfor was not aware of the activities, which could affect its legal obligations to reforest the site.

In their Feb. 2013 bulletin, the Forest Practices Board highlighted this example, arguing the need for a comprehensive assessment of the cumulative effects of natural resource development in British Columbia.

“This is not to suggest there is no coordination of planned activities,” the board explained. “Some coordination takes place and improvements are being made. However, there is still work to be done to develop a system where cumulative effects assessment and management are common in resource allocation decisions.”

On further examination of the site, the Board also found a number of industrial and other activities going on in the tree farm license area, including wind farms, mines, mineral exploration, natural gas wells, compressor stations, pipelines and processing plants, roads and power lines, trap lines and cattle grazing.

Authorizations have been issued to at least 13 different companies, not including the holder of the tree farm license, the Board acknowledged.

“British Columbia’s economy benefits significantly from the development of natural resources,” the Board said. “Every year, the province issues thousands of permits to use Crown land – permits to log, draw water from stream, build roads and pipelines, drill for oil, or carry out a myriad of other activities.”

There are currently 250,000 active permits for such operations in the province.

“Individually, these permits may have minimal effect on the land base.

Collectively however, their effect can be significant. BC does not have a framework for managing cumulative effects and so the cumulative effects of natural resource development remains largely unknown and unmanaged.”