The impact of oil and gas industry policy on responsible forest stewardship in North-eastern BC Smith, Richard
In order to maintain a sustainable forest industry in British Columbia (BC) that meets the requirements of social, environmental and economic values, responsible forest stewardship needs to be applied. Today forest stewardship is encouraged in the forest industry through the legislation in the Forests and Range Practices Act, as well as through multiple forest products certification organizations and programs. However, the forest industry is not the only stakeholder in BC extracting natural resources from the land. In fact, there is an array of different industries, such as the agriculture, mining, and oil and gas industries, that all share the use of the same publicly owned crown forestland. Of importance to this report is the dominance of the oil and gas industry in northeastern BC. The oil and gas industry, governed by the BC Oil and Gas Commission (OGC), has a huge impact on the land, clearing hectare upon hectare of forestland each year for oil and gas exploration, and development. The oil and Gas Commission Act was created in 1998 as a single piece of legislation for oil and gas contractors to follow in order to streamline the activities of the industry. Due to this policy change, the oil and gas industry pulled away from many of its obligations to forest industry policy as well as to various other industries’ policies that surround the proper management of BC’s forest, and hence responsible forest stewardship. Through thorough research, weaknesses were discovered in oil and gas policy to practice responsible forest stewardship in such activities as riparian management, road construction and maintenance, timber harvesting for exploration, and land reclamation. In general, these weaknesses were found to include poor communication skills on behalf of the OGC with contractors and other industries, a lack of monitoring and enforcement of proper practices by the OGC, and a lack of diligence on behalf of the OGC in maintaining records of all oil and gas activities, which in turn has led to uncertainties regarding the sustainability of timber harvesting in northeastern BC.
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