A new report on the compliance and enforcement (C&E) program in the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development has been released.
“Sufficient oversight of forestry and range activities is critical to support the environmental, social and economic values that B.C.’s forestry legislation is intended to protect,” said Kevin Kriese, Forest Practices Board chair. “We conclude that the public cannot be confident that government’s C&E framework is achieving the intended result of promoting licensee compliance with legislation.
“Based on our own audit work, we believe that overall levels of compliance with forest and range legislation are fairly high. However, we found the C&E program does limited proactive monitoring of forest and range activities, or public reporting of compliance levels. Together, this makes it difficult to determine what the level of licensee compliance really is.”
The evaluation was based on interviews with program staff, including natural resource officers, ministry staff and industry representatives. The evaluation found a number of weaknesses in the design and implementation of the program to address the complexities of forestry legislation and inadequate public reporting, from a lack of appropriate performance measures and targets, to issues with staffing and training.
“We did find that the C&E framework has a good foundation with its priority setting process, data-tracking system and recent public reporting initiatives,” said Kriese. “The ministry has recently initiated changes to the program that we believe will set it on the path to addressing the issues found in our review.”
The report makes a number of recommendations for improvement that will require the ministry to review all aspects of the program, from guiding policies and procedures to hiring, training and operational tools.
When the ministry mandate was expanded to include most natural resource legislation in the province, the C&E program was significantly changed. Following on concerns identified in its 2013 report, Monitoring Licensees Compliance with Legislation, the board decided to look at the appropriateness of government’s revised compliance and enforcement framework.
The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board can investigate and report on current forestry and range issues and make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.
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