Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)

Watchdog: logging practices put Vancouver Island old growth, biodiversity at risk

Forest Practices Board has issues with BC Timber Sales practices in Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni

A British Columbia forestry watchdog has found forest practices near Port Alberni have put old growth and biodiversity at risk.

The Forest Practices Board report comes three years after the Ancient Forest Alliance submitted a complaint about timber harvesting in the Nahmint River watershed. The board has determined that BC Timber Sales, the provincial agency responsible for auctioning timber sale licenses, failed to comply with land-use objectives for biodiversity protection in the Nahmint Valley.

Now, the board says the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development needs to find a way to make sure this lack of compliance doesn’t happen again.

The Nahmint, located about 20 kilometres southwest of Port Alberni, is designated as a special management zone for its high biodiversity and wildlife, with some of the largest tracts of remaining old-growth forests on Vancouver Island outside of Clayoquot Sound.

The Ancient Forest Alliance was concerned in 2018 that BC Timber Sales practices were leading to the harvesting of large, old-growth trees, overriding its own protective order and the area’s special status.

READ MORE: Investigation sheds light on Nahmint logging

Kevin Kriese, chair of the Forest Practices Board, said that the board took a look at BC Timber Sales’ forest stewardship plan and determined that its management of old forest was not compliant with government objectives.

“The harvesting and the issues around old forest have been going on for a while,” he said in a media presentation on Wednesday, May 12.

In addition, board staff examined the remaining forest in the watershed and found that there was not adequate old forest remaining in some ecosystems. BC Timber Sales’ forest stewardship plan does not have a strategy to protect these ecosystems—meaning that there are some ecosystems that could be at risk if more logging takes place in them.

“There is a risk…that these actually could be harvested,” said Kriese.

After a complaint from the Ancient Forest Alliance in 2018, the ministry’s compliance and enforcement branch started an investigation that ultimately determined BC Timber Sales was not compliant with government objectives. However, the compliance and enforcement branch also determined that it was not able to take enforcement action under the current legal framework, so it closed the file and referred it to the Forest Practices Board.

“That’s an oversight and that’s a gap,” said Kriese. “The current legal framework does not permit government to ensure that forest stewardship plans approved in error can be amended, and this does not give the public confidence in government’s compliance and enforcement. We are recommending government fix this gap in the legislation.”

The report ultimately found “a number of issues” with government objectives for B.C.’s forests, including the Nahmint River watershed.

“The board is concerned that actions are needed now to ensure biodiversity, and old forests in particular, are being adequately protected as forestry activities proceed in this watershed,” the report states. “Ultimately, the responsibility for the gaps in the planning and approval processes rests with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.”

The report recommends that the ministry complete landscape unit planning for Nahmint and that BC Timber Sales amend its forest stewardship plan to achieve the legal objectives. It also recommends that BC Timber Sales ensures it does not sell any timber sales in these high-risk ecosystems until a landscape unit plan is completed.

The final recommendation from the report asks the ministry to identify a mechanism that will allow forest stewardship plans to be corrected if they are out of compliance.

In light of the board’s findings, the Ancient Forest Alliance is calling on the B.C. government to direct BC Timber Sales to immediately stop auctioning off cutblocks in old-growth forests and instead champion conservation solutions and sustainable second-growth harvesting practices.

“With the Forest Practices Board’s investigation now complete, the evidence is irrefutable,” said Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness in a press release. “BC Timber Sales are failing to adequately protect old-growth in the Nahmint Valley. This failure exposes the gross inadequacies and lack of accountability that are inherent in B.C.’s forest system and the need for immediate, systemic change.”

The full report can be found on the Forest Practices Board’s website at www.bcfpb.ca. The board is requesting a response from BC Timber Sales and the ministry by Sept. 15, 2021.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development says that BC Timber Sales is addressing the board’s recommendations in its operations, and that the ministry is updating Nahmint’s landscape unit plan.

“The board’s independent reports are an important check on forest practices in B.C. and highlight areas where we can improve. We take seriously the board’s recommendations and observations.”



elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

forestryPORT ALBERNI

Just Posted

Students at Creston Valley Secondary School put together an art installation of a replica residential school room. (Photo by Kelsey Yates)
Creston students create art installation of residential school room

The replica was decorated with a small bed, school uniform, and notes written with pleas for help

A living wage sets a higher standard than the minimum wage; it is what a family needs to earn to provide the basic needs based on the actual costs of living in a community.
Fruitvale now a living wage employer

“I’m really excited that Fruitvale is leading the charge for municipalities locally,” Morissette said.

Nelson police say a man attacked two people downtown with bear spray on Wednesday afternoon. File photo
Two people attacked with bear spray in downtown Nelson: police

Police say the three people know each other

Rotary eClub of Waneta Sunshine, alongside members from the Kootenay Native Plant Society and Trail Wildlife Association, joined together for a day of planting at Fort Shepherd. The Waneta Sunshine eClub was granted funds through an Express Grant from District 5080 to plant 50 shrubs which support pollinator opportunities at Fort Shepherd. Photos: Submitted
Kootenay conservation partners plant pollinator ‘superfoods’ at Fort Shepherd

TLC welcomes community groups to Fort Shepherd who would like to help local ecosystems thrive

Harold and Sadie Holoboff are bringing great food and service to the Eagle’s Nest Restaurant at Champion Lakes Golf and Country Club. Photo: Jim Bailey
West Kootenay golf course welcomes father-daughter team to restaurant

Chef Harold Holoboff brings comfort food to another level at Champion Lakes Eagle’s Nest Restaurant

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read