Second audit finds issues

This is the second audit in less than two months to find problems in the area.

A report released Jan. 27, 2015, concluded that a numbered company owned by the Wet’suwet’en First Nation complied with most, but not all, requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act, and failed to comply with Wildfire Act requirements to assess and reduce fire hazards after logging.

The audit examined forest planning and practices carried out between September 2011 and October 2013, near Burns Lake, by 639881 B.C. Ltd. The company harvested 86,000 cubic metres of timber from eight cutblocks.

Problems found include planting the incorrect type of tree seedlings in some locations, failing to carry out commitments to prevent the spread of invasive plants, causing excessive soil disturbance during harvesting, and failing to assess and remove slash and debris that pose fire hazards.

“This is the second audit in this district that found a company did not meet its obligations to assess and reduce fire hazards under the Wildfire Act,” said board chair Tim Ryan. “It’s also the second company to not fully meet requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act.”

“As we said previously, all forest licence holders have obligations to comply with provincial forestry legislation. Failure to do so will have an impact on the public’s trust that B.C. forests are being managed responsibly,” Ryan added.

The board acknowledges that the company is now under new management and is requesting that it report to the board by the end of February on the completion of the outstanding obligations and on other actions taken to address the issues identified in the audit.

A press release by Wet’suwet’en First Nation (WFN) on Jan. 28 stated, “WFN is concerned with the result of the recent Forest Practices Board (FPB) audit of our forest licence and the way in which this licence was previously managed. It goes without saying that WFN values the forest as an integral part of our culture and way of life. We have worked with the FPB through the audit process and appreciate its feedback on how management of our licence can be improved.”

“In partial response to the forest practices raised in the FPB audit, we engaged a new manager for the licence in 2014. WFN’s economic arm, Yinka Dene Economic Development Limited Partnership, is now directly overseeing matters respecting the license, including the activities of the new manager,” stated the press release. “We are confident that our new management approach to forest resources will result in better stewardship of the land and increased benefits for our members.  We look forward to responding to the concerns raised by the FPB and setting a high bar for environmental stewardship within WFN’s traditional territory.”

On Dec. 3, 2014, the Forest Practices Board released a report stating that Burns Lake Specialty Wood also complied with most requirements of the Forest and Range Practices Act, but failed to comply with Wildfire Act requirements to assess and reduce fire hazards after logging.

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board audits forest and range practices on public lands and appropriateness of government enforcement. It can also make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.