A failed reforestation effort in the Kootenays has left B.C.'s logging watchdog concerned.
Arrow Glenn Ltd, a private logging company with access to over 600 hectares of forested land in B.C., failed to reforest several clear-cuts near Creston — a direct violation of the regulatory Forest and Range Practices Act.
According to a two-year random audit from the Forest Practices Board, Arrow Glenn had seven years to replant trees in numerous clear-cuts but failed to meet minimum standards. They also failed to submit mandatory annual progress reports to the government.
"In the case of a licensee not meeting reforestation obligations, that's not good stewardship — or stewardship period," said Timothy Ryan, chair of the FPB.
The FPB is funded by the province to make suspect forestry practices public and prompt a response from the government. But they can only audit a handful of logging licenses a year inside a pool of thousands.
"The reality is that what the board does is a drop in the bucket over a season," said Chris Mosher, the director of audits for the FPB. "We can only get to so many areas to assess."
While Arrow Glenn isn't a major player in forestry when compared to Canfor or TimberWest, Mosher says it's important nonetheless to monitor what smaller companies are doing because they make up a significant portion of the industry.
Slipped through the cracks
But the board isn't the only body that keeps an eye on forest practices. The Ministry of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations is responsible for ensuring license holders reforest clear-cuts accordingly.
The ministry's regional staff never noticed Arrow Glenn's mismanagement, even after mandatory progress reports didn't show up in their mailbox, Mosher notes, and he is unsure how Arrow Glenn managed to slip through the cracks.
"It's one of the questions that we wonder," he said. "But it's not part of our compliance audit."
The ministry did not address the issue in their response to CBC.
"As recommended by the board, district staff will work with the licensee to ensure he meets his reforestation obligations," said the ministry in a written statement, adding that reforestation can be quite difficult in the region.
Arrow Glenn Ltd. could not be reached for a comment on the audit.
Not an excuse
"These are arid, challenging sites to grow trees on," said John Betts, director of the Western Silvicultural Contractors Association, an organization that promotes forest management in B.C.,
"But that doesn't relieve them of any duty to properly reforest them."
According to Betts, the failure will reduce the amount of wood available to local mill operators, who are increasingly desperate for regional timber.
"Everybody should be pulling their weight," he said.