British Columbia’s forestry watchdog says there are “major weaknesses and gaps” in the way the province enforces logging rules and protects its natural resources.
Last week the B.C. Forest Practices Board issued a report that highlights the challenges regarding enforcement for the Forest and Range Practices Act and the Wildfire Act, which govern logging and other forestry activities in B.C.
Kevin Kriese, the watchdog’s board chair, says one of his primary concerns is that natural resource officers, who are tasked with enforcing B.C. forestry laws, don’t have time to proactively monitor logging operations before a problem occurs.
“Someone needs to check, particularly in remote areas,” Kriese said.
Kriese said natural resource officers are stretched thin, especially during months when their priorities shift to preventing wildfires.
He also emphasized that, for the most part, companies and individuals with a logging licence appear to be complying with provincial forestry laws. However, he also said it’s hard to know for sure because the Forestry Ministry’s enforcement branch lacks transparency.
“The public needs to know what they’re finding,” Kriese said.
The report recommends the enforcement branch sets clear targets and guidelines, and regularly reports to the public on its findings and activities.
Kriese said until that happens, it won’t be clear if natural resource officer staffing levels are appropriate or not.