Since 2004 the Managed Forest Council (MFC) has been operating throughout British Columbia. According to the council’s chair, Rod Davis, the main role of the MFC’s is regulating private managed forest practices.
“It is an independent public agency that is set up by the provincial government to regulate forest practices on private managed forest land,” said Davis. “It gets its authority from provincial legislation. The council has broad authority. We are set up to both enact and enforce regulations with respect to forest practices.”
Normally, private managed forestlands are inspected in person once every five years. Land and forests in the Elk Valley have been inspected two years in a row.
“There are a variety of owners in the area; the heightened interest in the valley comes from the sale of the old Tembec lands to Jemi Fibre. We inspect all of managed forest property across B.C.,” he said.
In addition to the private managed forest lands changing hands, active and extensive logging also peaks the interest of the MFC.
“Whenever there is ongoing, extensive logging it raises the interest of local communities so we went up last year and this year to inspect forest practices on private land in that area and to meet with local government officials and other concerned stakeholders in the area,” Davis said. “While we were there we made presentations to Sparwood, Elkford, Fernie and to the Regional District of the East Kootenay to provide an overview.”
As outlined by an MFC handout, the council ensures compliance by using three techniques that measure performance with regards to compliance requirements. Audits and inspections occur at least once every five years by a qualified inspector. Investigations come about when council follows up on a compliance issue that was revealed during an inspection or audit, from third-party or owner complaints. Geoscientists and fishery biologists and other specialists are involved with these investigations, as they are required. Lastly, compliance determinations are where alleged contraventions of regulations are brought to a formal determination hearing. In these hearings, owners have the opportunity to be heard and third parties that have been affected have the chance to speak. Owners are held responsible to the outcomes of compliance determinations and the outcomes of hearings are published on the Council website.
According to Davis, compliance infringement is quite rare.
“If you look at the statistics since the act was brought in, in 2004, there is a 99.5 per cent compliance rate,” he said. “That is extremely high, we regulate lots of almost 200,000 hectares down to small family plots of a few hectares. It is quite a range but broadly speaking the larger lots are operated by big companies and the smaller operations have a lot of pride in how they manage their land.”