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

Google Maps shows significant traffic backups after a crash reported shortly before noon on Father’s Day, June 20. (Google Maps)
Saanich crash closes lane of McKenzie Avenue

Police say there were injuries, traffic is impacted

Hot rods, rad rods, muscle and sports cars spanning the decades made their way in a parade from North Saanich to Victoria on June 19. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)
PHOTOS: Classic cars cruise Saanich Peninsula in advance of Father’s Day

Retirement home residents from North Saanich to Victoria treated to a spectacle of hot rides

Victoria Regional Transit System routes 7 UVic/Downtown, 21 Interurban/Downtown and 53 Colwood/Langford will undergo changes as of June 28. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria school routes scaled down for summer by BC Transit

Service changes take effect June 28, enhanced service returns this fall and winter

A bathtub kitchen garden is part of the lineup for this year’s Teeny Tiny Garden Tour to benefit Victoria Hospice. (Screenshot/Teeny Tiny Garden Tour)
Virtual garden tour for Victoria Hospice features trio of back yards

Online tour is free; calendar purchase and donation options raise money for the cause

Diana Durrand and Arlene Nesbitt celebrate the new artist space in 2014. Gage Gallery moves this summer from Oak Bay to Bastion Square in Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Gage Gallery moving to Bastion Square

Vivid Connections, a showcase by Laura Feeleus and Elizabeth Carefoot, opens new venue June 29

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Most Read