Concerns Raised by the BC Forest Practices Board
The British Columbia Forest Practices Board recently found several instances of non-compliance with provincial forestry legislation during an audit of the McBride Community Forest in the Robson Valley in September 2012.
- failure to show road locations on site plan maps, in one instance leading to a poorly constructed road that caused environmental harm
- 5 access roads were upgraded and used without authorization
- status of cutblocks were not reported to government when required
- accurate silviculture information was not maintained by the community forest
“Each of these findings has potential implications for the overall sound management of forest resources, and collectively they raise serious questions about the community forest corporation’s diligence and attention to detail,” said board chair Al Gorley. “In our opinion, the management of the McBride Community Forest is not up to the standard required by provincial forestry legislation and expected by the public, nor is it reflective of the generally good management of other community forests we have audited in the past.”
Response from the McBride Community Forest
The McBride Community Forest Corporation (MCFC) has accepted the findings of the Forest Practices Board (FPB) in its audit of the MCFC completed in September 2012. The FPB found four cases of non-compliance and one area requiring improvement following a comprehensive review of MCFC planning and practices. The most serious case of non-compliance saw an access road built in an area close to a fish stream that was not indicated on any maps. The other findings dealt with site plans that did not adequately show road locations, access roads that were utilized without approval, annual reporting requirements for forest cover, and inadequate silviculture activities reporting.
MCFC Board Chair Rick Thompson, states “MCFC accepts full responsibility for the findings of the Forest Practices Board. The FPB completed a comprehensive review in September 2012 of our forest planning and management activities during our first 10 years of operation. MCFC is proud of our forest planning and management history, generation of local employment, and millions of dollars in funding for local projects. MCFC takes very seriously the findings of the FPB and has already undertaken steps to improve in all 5 cases outlined in the FPB report. MCFC has acquired new forest planning and reporting technology to assist us in our operations and filing of reports to the Ministry of Forests and other agencies. MCFC has worked with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to ensure there was no environmental harm created when an access road was built in an area that MCFC had not indicated a road would be built. MCFC staff will provide greater oversight and supervision to all its operations in future. MCFC like other community forests in BC has provided stability, economic activity and benefits to McBride and the Robson Valley. MCFC takes its responsibilities for these outcomes, and proper forest planning and management, very seriously. MCFC thanks the FPB for a comprehensive audit and has already implemented positive changes to address the concerns.”
The MCFC is wholly owned by the Village of McBride. McBride Mayor Mike Frazier said “our community forest has provided much needed jobs and economic activity in our forest industry which over the past decade has suffered mill closures and job losses. I don’t see where our community would be today without our community forest. Our community benefits from some economic activity in the agriculture and tourism sectors but forestry remains the economic backbone of McBride and the Robson Valley. Our community forest has kept loggers and forest products employees working, and provided millions of dollars towards improving community facilities and seniors housing. I’m confident our staff will use the finding of the FPB audit to improve our forest planning and management and have our community forest provide numerous benefits for generations to come.”
MCFC has been in operation for 10 years. It is wholly owned by the Village of McBride. It is overseen by a Board of Directors with 2 staff and is supported by a number of contractors providing specialized services and support. Since its inception, MCFC has supported dozens of jobs, created over $30 million in economic activity and provided $2.5 million directly to the community through dividend payments to the Village of McBride.