Islands’ loggers don’t need deadline extension

  • Jan. 10, 2007 4:00 p.m.

Forestry companies across the province have been given three more months to get the new type of forestry planning documents in for approval, but the islands’ players are already ahead of the game. Forest Stewardship Plans, which were to replace the Forest Development planning process by last Dec. 31, have already been submitted by Husby Forest Products, Teal Cedar, BC Timber Sales and Western Forest Products even though the new deadline doesn’t require the FSPs to be in until March 31. Sean Muise in the Ministry of Forests stewardship division in Queen Charlotte says the documents are contained in huge binders and not easily summarized. Basically, the documents cover a planning period of five years in the licensees normal tenure range. For example, Western Forest Products will operate in Tree Farm license 39, Teal in TFL 47, BCTS in the entire Timber Supply Area and Husby in the TSA areas they have traditionally used. The new process requires only a general outline of forestry plans in the area and does not outline specific cutblocks. One of the differences between the old planning process and the new one is that licensees are responsible for using professional judgment on things that used to be dictated by the Forest Practices Code. They are asked to write their own results and strategies for resource values like soils, water, fish, wildlife, visual quality and cultural heritage. Mr. Muise says generally the licensees have chosen to use default strategies from the old Forest Practices Code rather than come up with a completely new ways to manage some resource objectives. Other objectives like cultural heritage do not have default strategies, so licensees have to use their creativity and professional expertise to come up with a plan of their own. For example, a strategy for cultural heritage could be meeting regularly with the Haida to get input, before applying for cutting permits. He said licensees are only required to provide strategies for certain objectives. For example, they must provide a strategy (their own, as there is no default) for marbled murrelets as required by the Ministry of the Environment. But other important wildlife on islands do not have the same statutory requirement, such as goshawks or sawhet owls. Mr. Muise said one positive thing about the new process is that in some places around the province licensees, First Nations and other players have come together to create new strategies for certain resource management issues. Here, he says, the Haida have officially sent a letter saying they will not comment on any FSPs received because they do not agree with the process. Also, he says, once the Land Use Plan is finished, licensees will have to amend their FSPs to meet any new objectives outlined there. Until the end of March, licensees are still able to operate under old Forest Development plans and amendments to these plans. Cutting permits applied for after March 31 will require an FSP. All the FSPs submitted are awaiting the approval of the statutory decision maker. Mr. Muise welcomes people to come and look at the binders at his office, but reminds them that the public comment period is over.