A complaint about logging of old forest on Sonora Island on B.C.’s South Coast has highlighted the importance of following the spirit and intent of ecosystem-based management (EBM).

Residents of Sonora Island complained that TimberWest Forest Corp. was logging old-growth forest and rare and endangered plant communities in the Great Bear Rainforest.

While TimberWest was found to be following the legal requirements of land use orders, the board was concerned that the company’s approach to identifying old forest and rare and endangered plant communities did not meet the spirit and intent of EBM.

“EBM is driven by, and ultimately must satisfy, local and global public concerns about forest management,” said board chair Tim Ryan. “Those licensees that prefer to stick to the letter of the law, rather than managing to the intent of EBM, may find they lose public trust and their social license to operate.”

EBM is an approach that has evolved over the past two decades to enhance stewardship of forests in the coastal regions of British Columbia by maintaining ecological integrity and conserving biodiversity, while also addressing human well-being.

The board recommends that TimberWest provide information on its future EBM management approach and that government clarify the definitions for old forest and red- and blue-listed plant communities.

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 investigates public complaints about forest and range practices on public lands and appropriateness of government enforcement. It can also make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.