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When our provincial government brought the Forest and Range Practices Act into force in 2004 it ended the “command and control” approach of the previous Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act. Instead it implemented “results-based” forestry reducing the control our government had over decisions made by tenure holders.
It also shifted the role of resource steward—a role traditionally played by government officials—onto tenure holders. Our government now appears intent on recovering some of that stewardship decision-making authority through changes to improve FRPA.
The Act’s success partly relied on the willingness of major tenure holders to assume the stewardship responsibilities previously shouldered by government. Through professional reliance it also depended on resource management professionals to maintain the confidence of the public and government.
Just how well those two FRPA challenges have worked out in practice certainly have contributed to our government’s decision to revise the legislation. Lawmakers’ disappointment with resource professionals created the 2018 Professional Governance Act establishing a superintendent to consolidate government oversight of professional regulators.
As for the tenure holders’ commitment to stewardship, let’s just say there has been some tension between the ambit of FRPA and the broad set of expectations many hold around what amounts to the wisest management of our forests and rangelands.
Notwithstanding that, the two decades of assault on our landscape from pests, blight and wildfire have taken a catastrophic toll; something not helped by our previous government’s failure to ever amend FRPA in the light of these changes.
Our government’s intention to improve FRPA is of critical importance and relevance to the WFCA and the forestry constituency it represents. The silviculture/forestry sector is defined and driven by the resource management priorities and policies our government enables through legislation.
The week of June 23, 2019, WFCA forest policy committee members met with MFLNRORD staff in Victoria to understand the current FRPA consultation process and how our sector can contribute. At the same time the silviculture/forestry sector was recently asked to sit on the forest minister’s Forest and Range Practices Advisory Council (PAC), one of the committees assisting in drafting legislation.
We encourage all of our members to review the ministry’s discussion paper at here. Meanwhile the WFCA is preparing an outline of its position on FRPA to be submitted as part of the ongoing stakeholder consultation to improve the Act. The process is expected complete all its steps in time for new legislation to be in place by 2021.
A lot has happened on the landscape since the Forest and Range Practices Act came into effect in 2004. One thing that didn’t happen were any reviews or amendments to the Act.