Backlog Program Shifts to Impeded Stands and Free to Grow

A recently released report from the Ministry of Forests Forest Practices branch shows an increase in backlog silvicultural activities aimed at releasing impeded stands to free to grow status.

2001 Summary of Backlog NSR and Impeded Forest Land

Ministry of Forests Forest Practices Branch

Executive Summary

The 1984 Forest and Range Resource Analysis estimated that there were 738,000 hectares of good and medium site Crown land that had been harvested, burned by wildfire, destroyed by pests or other damage and were calassified as backlog (pre-1982) not satisfactorily restocked (NSR). These areas were considered economically viable for timber production and given a high priority for silvicultural activities. In 1995 the Forest Practices Code of British Columbia Act re-defined a backlog area as “an area from which the timber was harvested, damaged or destroyed before October 1, 1987; and, which in the district manager’s opinion, is insufficiently stocked with healthy, well-spaced trees of a commercially acceptable species.” Therefore, summary reports produced prior to that date included only pre-1982 backlog NSR, while subsequent reports include information on both pre-82 and 1982-87 backlog NSR.

The present summary indicates that as of February 2001, there were 55,421hectares of treatable pre-1982 backlog NSR remaining on good and medium sit4es, and 40,548 hectares of treatable 1982-87 good, medium and poor site backlog NSR on Crown land in British Columbia. Reductions in the amount of backlog NSR land during recent years can be attributed to reclassification of NSR sites to satisfactorily restocked or not productive as well as to reforestation programs. Since 1996, this has been carried out with funding provinded by Forest Renewal BC (FRBC).

The 1984 estimate of 738,000 hectares of backlog NSR on Crown land was the motivation for the 1985-1990 Canada-British Columbia Firest Resource Development Agreement (FRDA). Under FRDA, there was an increase in reforestation activities on backlog NSR areas. Increased site preparation, planting and silviculture surveys decreased the areas classified as backlog NSR. Modifications in survey procedures and in silviculture stocking standards also resulted in less land being classed as backlog NSR. As FRDA wound down in 1990, the Ministry of Forest continued to address the backlog areas at a somewhat reduced rate. Between 1990 and 1996, funding began to shift away from planting and toward plantation maintenance activities such as brushing.

In 1994, FRBC was established to plan and implement a program of investment to, in part, “renew the forest economy of B.C.” Part of the FRBC program was to invest in projects that help to reduce the amount of backlog NSR. In August 1996, Forest Renewal BC agreed to fund a ten-year, $250-million backlog reforestation program. With this commitment, it was estimated that planting of backlog sites would be completed by 2002, or earlier wherever possible. In spite of this commitment, however, planting of backlog NSR sites has dropped off since 1996 to around 9000 ha/year. Current estimates are that backlog NSR is likely to be elminated in the Cariboo, Kamloops, and Nelson Forest Regions by 2005-2006, and somewhat earlier in the Vancouver Region. In the Prince Rupert and Prince George Forest Regions, backlog NSR is estimated to be elminated no earlier than 2007.

As the amount of backlog NSR land diminshes, the focus of the program is shifting towards bringing the backlog landbase to free growing. In the current five-year backlog management plant, approximately half the funding has been allocated for trreatment of “impeded” stands that are satisfactorily restocked, but not yeat free growing. Approximately 2.4 million hectares are currently classified as impeded. Estimates of the completeion date for bring all backlog areas to free growing ranges from 2015 to 2025 in different parts of the province.