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McBride Community Forest fails audit
The general manager of the McBride Community Forest Corporation (MCFC) accepts the findings of a Forest Practices Board (FPB) audit, but not the way they were presented.
“While we accept the findings of the audit,” Marc von der Gonna said in response to written questions, “we are extremely disappointed with the conclusions drawn by the FPB in their press release and commentary.”
In that press release, FPB chair Al Gorley said the results of the audit were not up to the standards of other community forests which had undergone similar audits.
“Each of these findings has potential implications for the overall sound management of forest resources,” he said, “and collectively they raise serious questions about the community forest corporation’s diligence and attention to detail.”
The audit, which examined the activities of the MCFC from Sept. 1, 2010 to Sept. 1, 2012, found a number of non-compliances with provincial legislation.
Among these were failing to show road locations on site maps, which in one case led to a poorly constructed road causing environmental damage. According to the audit report, a small stream was diverted by the construction, and a trench had to be put in place to redirect the stream to Clyde Creek. The road was also constructed adjacent to Clyde Creek and, for about 40 metres, ran inside the 30-metre riparian reserve zone.
Von der Gonna says the MCFC was taking steps to remedy that situation before the audit was finished.
“We were already working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to develop and implement a rehabilitation plan in the summer of 2012. The rehabilitation works were carried out in June and July of 2012, and inspected and signed off by DFO three months prior to the field portion of the FPB audit.”
The audit report also noted MCFC had used five access roads which it was not authorized to use.
Von der Gonna says that was true during the period of the audit, but no more.
“We were working on getting approval for one cutting approval over our whole community forest area, thereby authorizing our use of all roads. This was issued to us on Sept. 13, 2012. Nevertheless, the audit reported on not having authority during the window of the audit.”
He says the MCFC considers the biggest problem brought up in the report being communication with government.
“We consider the most significant problem discussed in the audit being the reporting to government. In late 2011 we decided to purchase our electronic data management system and have in-house staff trained in its use.
“We are now fully caught up in our reporting requirements.”
It was also noted in the audit that MCFC has a licence for 50,000 cubic metres of harvest annually, but over the two years covered by the audit, they harvested about 123,000.
“We operate in a five-year cut control window,” von der Gonna explains, “that allows us to harvest 250,000 cubic metres any time within that five-year window.
“Within the two-year audit window, the markets were pretty poor, therefore our small-market loggers were operating with less of a profit margin. As such, we allowed them to harvest slightly more than normal.”
Von der Gonna says they were satisfied with the thoroughness of the FPB audit, but feels it doesn’t go far enough in its findings.
“Unfortunately, the audit is looking for strict compliance with legislation and is not mandated to look at all the good things MCFC is doing for the community, for instance, recreation site maintenance or collaborative research with the universities.”
While he says MCFC has addressed many of the issues cited in the audit, he adds correcting past problems is not the answer.
“MCFC is committed to continuous improvement and reserves the right to do better tomorrow than we did today. We are constantly monitoring our operations and welcome any suggestions for improvement.”
The complete audit report of the McBride Community Forest can be found online at www.fpb.gov.bc.ca.