In view of the fact few British Columbians are aware of the authoritative,
overbearing, burdensome mandate of the Government Action Regulation (GAR)
the heart of the Forest Range Practices Act (FRPA) legislation that is responsible for
logging practices that continue to ruthlessly exploit the BC forest, I am sending you
an abbreviated story.
A critical discussion of the Government Action Regulation (GAR) is a grind but the
legislation casts a dark shadow over wildlife habitat, water quality for community
watersheds and endangered species.
The West Coast Environmental Law Deregulation Backgrounder Report, Feb.
2004 forecasted the dismal logging practices that dominate the BC Landscape.
“ The Forest and Range Practices Act and regulations bring in a new era of forestry
deregulation which places an unprecedented degree of control over public
resources in the hands of forest companies. There are inadequate checks and balances
in the regulations. The impact of these changes, especially when coupled with major
cutbacks to Ministry of Forest’s staff and budgets is to reduce public control over
forest industry operations on public land.”
Protecting the environment and maintaining community relations will be more due to
the pleasure of a given forest company than a result of these regulations.
Both Standards and Planning Protections weakened. “ There are no doubt more
efficient and effective ways to regulate forest practices. West Coast Environmental
Law has long advocated stricter more comprehensive standards such as applied in
National Forests in the United States.
Increased Red Tape Blocks Government Action to Protect Environmental Values.
The new regime takes away the District Manager’s discretion to reject proposed
plans if they are not satisfied that resource values will be adequately managed or
Under the new Government Actions Regulation (GAR) a Minister may not take any
action to protect a host of environmental and recreational values unless:
• Taking the action would not “unduly reduce the supply of timber from British
• The action is consistent with all other objectives, including “ maintaining or
enhancing an economically valuable supply of commercial timber” and enabling
logging companies to be vigorous, efficient and world competitive .
The proposed action to protect environmental and recreational values is so
important that it outweighs the cumulative impact of all government actions on a forest
company to be “vigorous, efficient and world competitive.
The conclusion of the Deregulation Backgrounder Report 16 years on was an
accurate omen of BC Forest management politics to-day.
“The government has made an ideological shift, stating that it intends to rely on
professional foresters employed by forest companies to deliver the public interest
more than civil servants. All of this could render the public and community input
into forestry decisions less meaningful.”
The West Coast Environmental Law Deregulation Backgrounder Report that critiques
the B.C.Liberal Government Forest and Range Practices Act is an easy read and will
provide more than enough information that describes the politics of the why and how
the British Columbia Forest has been ruthlessly exploited.
The grande dame of the BC Council of Forest Industries, Susan Yurkovich
makes a call Nov. 23, 2019, Group wants BC to designate land as working forest
validates the importance of West Coast Environmental Law as a steadfast voice
speaking on behalf of British Columbians.
“B.C.’s Forest Sector is at the start of a major period of transition and taking a step to
create for industry secure access to a portion of the province’s dwindling timber reserves
is the industry’s No.1 priority,” said Susan Yurkovich.
“Access to fibre is hands down the most important” Yurkovich said Friday Nov. 22
during a speech to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.
Designating a land base for industry, similar to the way parks are set aside would give
companies the confidence to keep investing in operations during uncertain times. “Lets
have a balance” Yurkovich said “Lets say out loud we value forestry also as a
working forest, as a place that drives jobs and economic benefits”.
You have to give Susan Yurkovich and her corporate bosses credit for honesty. There
was a time not long ago that successful men and women aspired to leave a legacy
worthy of a tip of the hat by future generations.
The Final Report of the Review of Professional Reliance in Natural Resource
Decision Making by Mark Haddock May 2018 has a 15 page commentary on the Forest
and Range Practices Act, an important read that puts a failed corporate forestry agenda
For the sake of brevity I am concentrating on the Government Actions
The Government Actions Regulation is an important feature of the FRPA because it
allows the minister to make orders (GAR orders) to protect non-timber values
including the following: scenic areas, community watersheds, fisheries sensitive
streams, wildlife including ungulates (moose, caribou, deer and elk) regionally
significant species and species at risk.
“The obvious orders identify government’s objectives for managing these values
which guide professionals when preparing forestry plans. However, while similar
legislation would typically grant the minister broad discretionary authority to
make these orders GAR limits the minister’s discretion by requiring strict legal tests
be met before it can be exercised.” Section 2 of GAR imposes “limitations on actions”
that the order would not unduly reduce the supply of timber from British Columbia’s
Haddock wisely uses a declaration/affirmation by the Forest Practices Board to
showcase his critique of the Forest and Range Practices Act.
The Forest Practices Board considers professional accountability to government to
be a key condition for the public interest. In his submission the Board stated : One of the
key conditions that must govern the involvement of professionals in government’s
resource management decisions is that government must reserve to itself the right
to act when necessary to protect the public interest.
Mark Haddock, NDP Premier Horgan’s point man analyzing the merit of Professional
Alliance uses a quote to critique GAR from the Mike Morris report “Getting the Balance
Right: Improving Wildlife Habitat Management in British Columbia”.
In addition, statements like “Without unduly reducing the supply of timber from
British Columbia’s forests is a very subjective “default” term that significantly
lowers the threshold protecting our biodiversity and ultimately a reduced ability for
professionals to meet the spirit and intent of the legislation.
Mike Morris was Parlaimentary Secretary to the Minister of Forests, Lands and
Natural Resources, Steve Thomson when his report was released August 2015.
It is truly a rare moment in BC Politics when a minister and parliamentary
secretary publicly make the point they are in conflict with the Forest Range Practices
Act that became policy initiated by their former BC Liberal Government colleagues
Program Statistics-GAR Orders
Many designations set desired outcomes for timber harvesting but do not prevent
Government has established:
• 2104 wildlife habitat polygens over 3,708,577 hectares (including some large
grizzly bear and caibou specified areas)
• 85 ungulate winter ranges over 14,042,152 hectares
• 36 fisheries sensitive watersheds over 865,033 hectares
Logging in the Gilpin ungulate range Douglas Fir zone in 2015 resulted in 21 clear
cuts. The pictures I will send you show few mature Douglas Fir trees left to provide
Snow Interception Cover. (SIC)
The logging show resulted in more and and wider roads in a high road density area.
Haddock’s nine recommendations if implemented would improve logging
practices but not challenge the real problem; the allowable annual cut (AAC)
Recommendation 89- Improve Minister’s authority to make GAR Orders: review the
limitations on the minister’s authority to make orders to protect non-timber values.
I will send you pictures in two groups in a few days that showcase the good, bad, and
ugly of forest, grassland wildlife management.
Barry Brandow Sr.