Course:CONS200/2019/BC Forest Practice Act

From UBC Wiki


Introduction of the Forest and Range Practice Act

What is the act about?

In the province of British Columbia, the Forest and Range Practices Act was assented to November 21, 2002. The Forest and Range Practices Act includes 11 parts, which are[1]:

1.    Forest Stewardship Plan, Site Plan, and Woodlot Licence Plan[1]

2.    Forest Practices[1]

3.    Range Use Plan, Range Stewardship Plan, and Grazing Schedule[1]

4.    Protection of Resources[1]

5.    Compliance and Enforcement[1]

6.    General (liability, privilege, miscellaneous, and delegation)[1]

7.    Forest Practices Board[1]

8.    Forest Appeals Commission[1]

9.    Regulations and Standards[1]

10. Pilot Projects for Forest Practices or Range Practices[1]

11.   Transitions[1]

How is the act related to forest management?

The part 2 (Forest Practices) has 3 divisions, which are "Roads", "Forest Health", and "Silviculture and Gene Resources". The division 1 ("Roads") regulates and the industrial and non-industrial use of a road, and it specifies circumstances which require the payment for use of roads. The division 2 ("Forest Health") regulates the control of insects, diseases, animals or abiotic factors, in which the minister may require the private landowner or the holder of the plan on Crown land to submit a proposal in order to control or dispose of the insects, diseases, animals or abiotic factors. In division 3 ("Silviculture and Gene Resources"), a free growing stand is asked to be reforested on the area of the harvest[1].  

The part 4 (Protection of Resources) has 3 divisions, which are "General", "Unauthorized Timber Harvesting, Trespass, and Tree Spiking", and "Recreation". The division 1 ("General") covers the protection of the environment, invasive plants, natural range barriers, exemption for fighting out of control fire, unauthorized range activities, and range developments. The division 2 ("Unauthorized Timber Harvesting, Trespass, and Tree Spiking") prohibits any unauthorized timber harvesting and any harm to trees. The division 3 ("Recreation") prohibits any unauthorized construction of trail or recreation facility on Crown land, and regulates the protection of recreation and range resources on Crown land[1].


The current version of Forest and Range Practice Act was first published on January 1st, 1997. There were three editions of the Act with legislative changes in the past, including provisions and changes enacted, or consolidated in an RS1996 Supplement to the Act, that was not in force, inoperative, not repealed or superseded as of previous edition(s). The first edition included all the changes from January 1st, 1997 to December 31st, 2004. The secondary edition covered all legislative changes made from January 1st, 2005 to December 31st, 2013. The third edition covered all legislative changes made from January 1st, 2014 to the current date shown on the Act consolidation.[2] Before the Forest and Range Practice Act took effect in 2004, British Columbia established the Forest Practices Board and the Forest Practices Code in order to monitor forests and maintain sustainable usage of forest lands. It took two years for the Forest and Range Practice Act to finish the transition. There were several shift in legal framework during the transition. For example, the government tried to build confident image of environmental management by doing large amount of oversights and approvals on plans, which sometimes was inefficient. By introducing the Forest and Range Practice Act in 2002, instead of governments taking care of all the plans, separate professional teams gave specific advice, and address failure more effectively, which solved the problem at the same time of building positive governments images.[3] Also, the new established Act is highly based on professional skills and accountability, and focus more on the result instead of process.[4]


A penalty determination will be made by government officials when individuals, organizations or companies contravene the FPRA, Wildlife Act (WA) and Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act, with a penalty up to $500,000 (under FPRA only). The penalty is aimed to compensate important wildlife habitats loss, repairing of damages, removing of personal economic gaining and discouraging of the illegal actions. The determination and amount of penalty will be based on the magnitude the severity of the damage, continuity of the behavior, awareness of illegal actions, economic benefits gained and efforts of remediation. Unauthorized harvesting, roading, causing fire and deforestation are typical examples of contravention that will be asking for legal responsibilities. Under situations of minor damages or in time remediation, the penalty can be canceled and only words warning will be given. Also, if a licensee followed by the misleading of a government official, who give wrong advice or made an error of law, will not be held accountable by law. However, the highest penalty can excess $500,000 when serious consequences, like forest fires or large areas of deforestation, are caused.[5]

War in the Woods

Man Attaching Log to Skidder


It’s important to note that less than 10% of the land in BC is private land, and the rest of them are Crown lands; half of Crown lands are forested[6]. Since the late 1980s, BC keeps to modify forest policy in the consideration of political, institutional, and regulatory aspects; people asking for protected areas and the regulation of forest practices[6]. This long fighting history, is called "war in the woods".

Case 1: Transportation Systems and Soil Degradation

Soil productivity has been threatened by logging for a long time. The timber harvest can lead to issues like soil compaction and soil erosion. The study of ground-skidded cutovers points out that the impact of it on soil may reduce the survival rate of seedlings and the growth of tree height and diameter[7]. The research made about the logging on the southeast BC’s Nelson forest region showed that different logging transportation systems give damages with different degree[8]. The ground-skidding system is applied to a wide range of logging activities. The skidders go from the roadside to the felling site, and then drag logs back to the roadside[8]. Due to its limited carrying capacity, the transportation always repeats many times on the same path. The pressure may cause soil compaction. The impact of skidders would be worse on steep sites, because bladed skid trails are required for this kind of condition[8]. The soil productivity may be reduced. Besides, if the path doesn’t get repair after logging, it may accumulate water and lead to soil erosion in the future. Comparing to the ground-skidding system, cable system is more complex. It uses one or more cables to connect to a cable logging machine to drag or carry logs to the roadside[8]. The cable system requires a straight path for transportation; thus, a part of the forests has to be cleared. However, the cable system gives fewer negative impacts on soil comparing with the ground-skidding system[9]. In Nelson forest region, sites which applied the ground-skidding system were 29% disturbed, but sites which applied the cable system were only 3% disturbed[9]. Based on the past researches, the established objective of FRPA for soil conservation is to maintain the soil productivity and hydrologic function while the timber production is not heavily influenced. For reducing soil disturbances, apply the cable system instead of the ground-skidding system will be helpful.

Cable logging terms in Victoria

Case 2: Wrong Activities in Logging Activities

In the past decades, the view about logging totally shifted. In the past, people used to believe that the growth rate of tree in nature is always faster than logging[10]. However, now we realized that the amount of logging and the speed of logging are exceeding natural’s self-renewal ability[10]. In timber harvesting activities, there are many problems needed to be managed. For instance, on a site observation, a logging company’s supervisor refused to comply with the Forest Service enforcement officer's request for road repair; the supervisor said that there were too many roads and the costs would be unaffordable, therefore they won’t do the repair work[10]. The disturbance caused can be seen but there is lack of management and enforcement to repair it. Another common problem is in the clear-cutting sites. All of the trees are cut, but only high value species in the market would be chose and the rest of them are left to rot[11]. A typical example is hemlock, which is usually left in a large amount. These two examples show that a constraining force is needed if we want to control the logging rate under the natural growth rate.

How does the Law influence the BC forest?

The Forest & Range Practices Act (FRPA) standards and requirements try to protect forest nature resource in different parts. At the same time simplify the planning process for government and industry, while ensuring the protection of everything in and on them, such as soil, water quality, and Cultural Heritage.

Logging truck and bush taxi accident.jpg

Timber Logging

The Forest Practices Board established a report Tuesday. The report illustrated that within the last three years, the total number of inspections of forest and range activity in British Columbia decreased a lot. Forest companies required lots of licenses to do things. What they do in field, whether it is harmful to forest or if it is legal or not will all be checked and tested. However, the inspection of those kinds of activity shrink to 1/3 of past years, governments still doing a lot of research about the forest companies to give them licenses but the investigation was not as broad as before. The Forest Act is designed to maintain high environmental standards, strong compliance and enforcement, the government needs to demonstrate that it is conducting adequate inspections to adequately monitor compliance with legislation. The inspections of the forest need to be more frequent and detailed. [12]

The Forest and Range Practices Act is designed to give forest licensees flexibility to manage harvesting, within a framework of government objectives. The Logging companies become powerful and people care about logging more than some endangered species. [13]

Wildlife Animals


The Forest and Range Act encouraged the logging industries a lot, and as the result, the logging companies became too powerful. The logging companies have free rein over anything even breaking endangered species habitat[13]. The forest practices near streams have improved since the Forest Practices Act was created and that the disturbance of streams by logging has reduced significantly since the late 1980s and early 1990s.[14]

The main idea of the forest and range act is to develop the economic value of forest. The logging activity is increased and increase the deforestation. The Forest and Range Act does not influence the animal directly but indirectly. Over harvesting of timber is bring a serious threat to fur-bearing animals and their living habitat. The population of wildlife is decreasing every day and people do not pay any attention to this. What people care is only the ability to grow trees. [15] There was a study wo in 2012 about the relationship between logging and fur-bearing done by Michael Bridger, who is UNBS master’s candidate at that time, now is a Ministry of Lands’ wildlife biologist,  Forests and Natural Resource Operations. He’s study was to use the impact of logging on the three fur species was quantified through interviews with biologists and experienced trappers, as well as catch data. [15]The results shows that the area that human effect the environment increased over the study period, the optimal habitat for lynx, fisher and marten decrease about 80%. [15] All of this problem will be solved by a new wildlife management and habitat strategy which is now developing by First Nations. [15] This can happened is due the a power change happened years ago.

Short tailed weasel furry carnivorous mammal mustela erminea.jpg

In 2003, The government is not paying enough attention on wildlife care and not doing enough works. Even though the Forest and Range Practice Act states that forest and range plans must be consistent with government objectives which is about biological diversity and wildlife, but there is no direct reference or evidence to identify the wield life in the The Forest and Range Practice Act. [16] The government is not paying enough attention on wildlife care and not doing enough works.

In 2008, there was some change made by government. The government has no longer holds all power of controlling the forest. The power has been separated in three parts. First, government sets the general objectives. Then, the Forest companies licensees can plan and carry out forest practices in any way as long as it followed their objects. The last part is about resource professionals. Foresters working for both government and licensees have the resource stewardship responsibilities that can influence management of forest resources. [17]

This illustrate that the government start doing some act to control the wildlife by separating the power to licensees and foresters which also can be known as forest companies and first nation people. The government is start to take care of wild life, but is still not enough.

How does FRPA influence forest conservation?

The Forest & Range Practices Act (FRPA) standards and requirements try to protect forest natural resources in different means.  While ensuring the protection of everything in and on them, such as soil, water quality, and cultural heritage, at the same time, FRPA simplifies the planning process for government and industry.

Impacts on soil conservation

The Forest Practice Act categorizes two types of soil disturbance: the soil compositions obtained by permanent access constructions and the regions impacted by soil disturbance in the net area to be reforested.[18]Governments reorganize the reforested areas which are occupied by corduroyed trails, compacted areas, areas of dispersed disturbance and un-rehabilitated temporary access structures.[18]

FRPA sets objectives for soil conservation.[18]

1. Limiting the harvesting and silviculture activities to reduce the extent of soil disturbance and negatively influence on the biological, chemical, and physical properties of the soil.[18]

2. Forest practices should consider the inherent sensitivity of a site such as the possibilities of soil-degrading to reduce negative consequences from soil disturbance, landslides, soil erosion, and sediment delivery to streams. [18]

3. Preserve forest land areas by minimizing the construction of permanent roads, landings, pits, quarries, and trails area during forest practices. [18]

Impacts on fish habitats

In BC, the majority of fish habitats are outside of areas designated for special management such as FSWs and wildlife habitat areas. Because of FRPA's fundamental planning and practice requirements, most of the land areas including fish habitats have already been protected. FRPA's management for fish habitats significantly improves the conservation results before appearances of the Code and FRPA[19] FRPA focuses on three fields:

1. The risk of watershed effects in no protective designated areas. [19]

2. Small streams which are next to forest practices. [19]

3. Sediment into streams.[19]

Images from Wikimedia Commons can be embedded easily.

Impacts on water quality

The objective of the practice is not to reduce the timber supply from British Columbia's forests; however, it helps to maintain the landscape level, the water quality, fish habitat, wildlife habitat and biodiversity associated with those riparian areas.[20] The objectives of water quality protection are the possible safe limits on the physical, biological or chemical characteristics of water, biota or sediment which protect water use and keep these sediments in the given water body. In British Columbia, the government considers provincial water quality guidelines, local water quality, water uses, water movement, waste discharges, and socio-economic factors; the government also establishes objectives in unique locations. Different locations have different purposes which are based on the protection of different water use, depending on the effect on water by physical, chemical or biological characteristics.[21]

Impacts on community watershed

The government sets the objectives for water being diverted for human consumption through a licensed waterworks in a community watershed; human water consumption should be under the government stander which cannot influence the timber supply from British Columbia's forests.[22]

The objectives prevent the cumulative hydrological effects of primary forest activities within the community watershed from resulting in. It also limits a material adverse impact on the quantity of water and the water flowing time to the waterworks. Moreover, the objective will prevent the condition when the water from the waterworks has a material adverse which has an impact on public health which cannot be addressed by water treatment required under an enactment or the license for the waterwork. [22]

Impacts on the cultural heritage of the Indigenous people

The Forest Practice Act gives a definition for cultural heritage which sets an object the location of traditional societal practice has a significant historical, cultural or archaeological meaning which relative with aboriginal people. In section 10, Forest Planning & Practices Regulation (FPPR) give a detail definition of a cultural heritage resource which under the FRPA. Government’s objective is to protect Cultural Heritage resource or at the necessary time protect Cultural Heritage resource.[22] B.C government published that

1. Aboriginal people’s traditional use is continuing importance to those people. [22]

2. Not regulated under the Heritage Conservation Act. [22]

Several factors should be used to achieve those two objectives. [23]

1. The relative value or importance to traditional use by an Aboriginal people. [23]

2. Cultural heritage resource is abundance or scarcity. [23]

3. Aboriginal people’s historical extent of a traditional used. [23]

4. The government’s granted timber harvesting rights should be conserving or protecting the resource. [23]

5. Reduce the impact that a forest practice might have on a cultural heritage resource. [23]

Improvements for future

District authority

In 2015, there was a report published by the Board stated a few situations that provincial policies on cutting or roading brought risks on local environments, while district managers had no authority to interrupt the process. According to FRPA, district managers are in charge of stewardship plans of local areas, but they do not have authority to refuse provincial permits of changing landscapes even if there might be a significant risk of causing irreversible damages. Indeed, some remedial actions might take by the government after damages caused, but the costs were usually more expensive and the behavior lowers the public confidence on the district managers[24].

Public Comments

According to FRPA, the forest stewardship plan is supposed to be available for public view and take all written comments from the public into consideration before submitting. However, the area covered by the plan is usually very large and sometimes secrecy in locations, which makes it difficult for the public to give any feedback. It is crucial for the public, like companies or forest tenure holders, to fully understand the specific influences that the plan will bring to the community. They have the authority to ensure that the values they treasured form the forest are not excessively affected by forestry activities ahead of events happen. They also play important roles as monitors to the forest land. With all those benefits stated above, still, the government does not consider establishing any legislated documents that provide publish with proper path to give comments.[24]

Fish habitat protections

BC forests play important roles as habitats of many migrating fishes. The monitoring and protection on fish habitat were introduced in 1990 on Forest Practice Code, and the methods had been improving since then. The effects brought by most changes were positive. For example, the risk of windthrow trees near small streams was reduced, forest activities near main streams were limited, and vegetation near river banks was better protected. However, there are still some potential problems. Although the protections of large streams have been mature, many small streams are facing problems of forest activities and input of sediments. The main sources of sediments are harvesting activities and roading near streams. A smaller stream often means a smaller population, which can be more sensitive to disturbances. Loss of one small population among a species may not bring destructive consequences to the while population, but it does reduce the genetic variability to some extent. The accumulating risks of ignoring an increasing number of micro-ecologies will result in the extinction of huge populations.[25]


The companies and industries in BC have obligations to follow the stipulations and indicators listed in the FRPA, and the monitoring works are usually done by local managers and governments. However, the defaulting percentage of industries in 2011 was as high as 78% and only decreased by 4% in 2015. The data was analyzed by other researchers using hypothesis testing method, and the results showed that there is no significant difference between the two values. The constant high defaulting percentage indicated that the majority of BC companies and internships did implement compulsory objectives from land using.[3] It is worth noticing that the research was done in 2015, and in 2017, the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development's program made improvements on monitoring methods.[26] Therefore, further researches need to be done to test the result of the improvements.


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 "Forest and Range Practices Act". BC Laws. 2017.
  2. BC Governments (2016). "Users Guide to the Table of Legislative Changes".
  3. 3.0 3.1 Kozak, Laura (Apr 30, 2015). "Limited leadership and innovation : evaluating the FRPA approach to forest management".
  4. BC Market Outreach Network, & BC Forest Information (2006). "British Columbia's forest and range practices act" (PDF). Vancouver, B.C: BC Market Outreach Network.
  5. Forest Practices Board (April 2014). "Penalty Determinations under Forest and Range Practices Legislation" (PDF).
  6. 6.0 6.1 Howlett, Michael (2009). "From government to governance in forest planning?". Science Direct.
  7. Eisenbies, Mark H (Nov 2005). "Soil Physical Disturbance and Logging Residue Effects on Changes in Soil Productivity in Five-Year-Old Pine Plantations". ProQuest.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 MacDonald, A J (1999). "Harvesting systems and equipment in British Columbia" (PDF).
  9. 9.0 9.1 Krag, R (1986). "Logging and soil disturbance in southeast british columbia". Canadian Journal of Forest Research.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Luca, Tacconi (2008). Illegal Logging: Law Enforcement, Livelihoods and the Timber Trade. London: Earthscan Publishers. p. 27. ISBN 9781136563379.
  11. Tacconi, Luca (2007). Illegal Logging: Law Enforcement, Livelihoods and the Timber Trade. London: Earthscan Publishers. p. 28. ISBN 9781136563379.
  12. Morton, Brian (Jun 16, 2013). "B.C. government inspections of forest, range practices down sharply: report". Vancouversun.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Pynn, Larry (Dec 26, 2015). "B.C. forestry watchdog finds timber companies have too much power". Vancouversun.
  14. "Forest Planning and Practices in Coastal Areas with Streams". Forest Practices Board. June 1998.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Shore, Randy (January 29, 2019). "B.C.'s fur-bearing animals, forest habitats in decline, trappers say". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved April 1, 2019.
  16. Forest Practice Board (January 2003). "Considerations for the new Forest and Range Practices Act". Marbled Murrelet Habitat Management.
  17. Forest Practice Board (April 2008). "Marbled murrelets on the sunshine coast". Conservation of species at risk under the forest and range practices a.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 "Forest & Range Evaluation Program Soil Monitoring". 2019. Retrieved Mar 4, 2019.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 "Special Report: Conserving Fish Habitats under the Forest and Range Practices Act" (PDF). Forest Practice Board. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  20. "Forest & Range Evaluation Program Water Quality Monitoring - Province of British Columbia". 2019. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 "Forest and Range Practices Act". BC laws. 2018. Retrieved March 11, 2019.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 Eisenbies, Mark H (Nov 2005). "Soil Physical Disturbance and Logging Residue Effects on Changes in Soil Productivity in Five-Year-Old Pine Plantations". ProQuest.
  24. 24.0 24.1 British Columbia. Forest Practices Board (2017). "Special report: Opportunities to improve the forest and range practices act" (PDF). Victoria, B.C: Forest Practices Board.
  25. British Columbia. Forest Practices Board (2018). "Special report: Part 1, A review of the BC government approach conserving fish habitats under the forest and range practices act" (PDF). Victoria, B.C: Forest Practices Board.
  26. "Review of government's forest practices monitoring released". The Times. 2017.