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

Comox town hall. Black Press file photo
Comox looking at the future of transportation in the town

Council adopted the 2020 Transportation Master Plan Update

On Monday, June 14, 40 Knots Winery presented the We Can Shelter Project with a cheque for $5,000. Pictured, from left - We Can Shelter Society secretary Sue Finneron, We Can Shelter treasurer Ann Scott, 40 Knots Winery co-owner Brenda Hetman-Craig, and Charlene Davis, president of the We Can Shelter Society. Photo supplied
Comox Valley Winery makes major contribution to housing initiative

40 Knots Winery commits to purchasing a unit for We Can Shelter Society

Brooklyn Elementary was able to get its expanded garden ready this spring. Photo by Comox Valley Schools
Comox Valley school garden in full bloom after setback

Along with COVID delays, Brooklyn Elementary project had lumber stolen in 2020

CVSAR search the Puntledge River following a report of an abandoned kayak. Photo, CVSAR Facebook page
Comox Valley Search and Rescue spends four hours searching for no one

Overturned kayak a reminder for public to contact officials if they have to abandon a watercraft

Little Brown Bat, Cori Lausen image
Puntledge River bats being studied

Project will use ultrasonic data to collect information on species and habitat

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact they recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 4 deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

Most Read