Conserving Forest Values
Interfor is a leader in sustainable forestry, managing forest resources in a manner that is environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable. We conduct internal environmental audits annually, identify areas for improvement and develop action plans. We ensure healthy, natural forests by planting approximately three seedlings for every tree we harvest.
We maintain an Environmental Management System (EMS) that provides a structure to identify, address and manage environmental issues for all woodlands and manufacturing facilities. We perform regular audits to verify EMS effectiveness.
Interfor manages nearly 2.7 million hectares of forests on public land in BC where timber harvesting activities must comply with the results-based Forest and Range Practices Act. The act requires forest stewardship plans showing how activities are consistent with objectives set by government for soils, timber, wildlife, water, fish, biodiversity, visual landscapes and First Nations cultural heritage resources.
The independent Forest Practices Board audits forest and range practices on public lands in BC to ensure they are consistent with government objectives. In 2013, it audited Interfor’s operations on BC’s northcentral coast and found compliance with all planning and operational requirements.
“This is a challenging operating area, and the board would like to acknowledge Interfor’s diligence in applying the planning and operational requirements of ecosystem-based management.” – Al Gorley, Chair of the BC Forest Practices Board in 2013
All of our forest operations are in BC, and are third-party certified to the globally recognized Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard. Accredited auditors measure planning, procedures, systems and on-the-ground performance against a predetermined standard, and issue a certificate once they are certain forest operations conform. In Canada, we are a member of the Western Canada SFI Implementation Committee, which has provisions allowing members of the public to report perceived inconsistent practices.
In the US South and British Columbia, Interfor mills are certified to the SFI Fiber Sourcing Standard, which holds us accountable for ensuring our mills buy fiber from legal and responsible sources. Among other things, this means we ensure suppliers use best management practices to protect biodiversity and water quality, and use the services of forest professionals. We also use state logger training or equivalent programs to ensure our procurement suppliers are trained in the SFI standard and at least one supervisor at each logging site is a Qualified Logging Professional, which means they are accredited or trained through an SFI-recognized program.
Great Bear Rainforest: Old Growth Retention Targets
We play a leading role in managing and protecting forests of high conservation value. We are a founding member of the historic land use planning process that led to the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement between industry, leading environmental groups, First Nations and the Province of British Columbia. Our SFI certification requires us to protect Forests with Exceptional Conservation Value as well as old-growth forests. We have internal programs and planning to address both of these key issues.
Many jurisdictions, including the European Union, have introduced regulations to avoid importing timber from controversial sources. Our Chain of Custody Policy Statement on Wood Fiber Procurement demonstrates our commitment to avoiding trading wood or wood fiber from controversial sources such as illegal harvesting, conversion of primary forests to forest plantations, and use of genetically modified forest-based organisms.
We have put in place an FSC wood procurement policy for our British Columbia Coastal Woodlands to avoid trading in wood or wood fiber that does not meet our sustainable forest management standards. Our Wood Purchasing Guide encourages our customers to choose products from sustainably managed forests.
We fully comply with laws in Canada and the United States that exclude fiber from genetically modified forests. Both countries also prohibit genetically modified trees for commercial planting. Our BC wood procurement policy commits to not purchasing or trading in wood harvested from forests in which genetically modified trees are planted. Through our SFI forest certification, we comply with SFI’s policy on Forest Tree Biotechnology, which states that genetically modified trees shall not be used.
We minimize chemical use, only using them where required to achieve reforestation objectives while protecting people, wildlife and the environment. We are subject to local, provincial and federal laws related to chemical use. We fully conform to the SFI Forest Management Standard, which prohibits the use of WHO type 1A and 1B pesticides, and states that where practicable we avoid the use of all other pesticides and herbicides.
Professional foresters and forest technologists working for Interfor are registered and regulated by the Association of BC Forest Professionals. As required by SFI certification, we train employees and contractors to fulfill responsibilities in the standard. When appropriate, we engage other qualified persons with expertise such as professional engineers and geoscientists, hydrologists, biologists and archaeologists.
We have designated a management liaison between management and the Environment & Safety Committee of our Board. The committee ensures we comply with our corporate Environmental Policy as well as environmental legislation in all areas where we operate, and resolve any instances of non-compliance.
2017 achievements and actions
- In BC, we planted nearly 8.8 million seedlings – three for every tree we harvested.
- Adams Lake Division held a special water management field-training day led by a hydrologist. A similar event was held for staff in Grand Forks and Castlegar.
- We provided Environmental Management System and SFI training to 61 contractors on BC’s coast, with a focus on riparian best management practices. We also developed a best practices playbook and training for stream crossings.
- Interfor staff participated in the BC Interior Migratory Bird Working Group, which developed management tools including a risk matrix and Beneficial Management Practices document. In 2017, we developed an internal set of Standard Operating Procedures based on this work, and rolled it out across our Interior operations.
- Coastal Woodlands staff undertook species at risk awareness training. In addition, as member of the Coast Forest Products Association (CFPA), Interfor endorsed the signing of an MOU between CFPA and the BC government regarding the northern goshawk and marbled murrelet interim management strategy. Since then, we have reported three goshawk nests to the province.
- We reward and recognize contractors or employees who make reports about species at risk. In 2017, work was stopped when an equipment operator noted a bear den during harvesting in the interior. The den was protected in a reserve and mapped. Our logger training also includes species at risk and the BC Report-a-Weed smartphone app.
- On BC’s Pacific Coast, we helped the Yuułu?ił?ath First Nation, environmental organizations and the Canadian government restore fish habitat on the Effingham River.
- In Central Oregon, we partnered with the US Forest Service and environmental organizations to support forest restoration activities in national forests.
- The 2017 wildfire season was the worst in BC’s history. Grand Forks Division held audits and meetings with staff to help reduce fire risk and ensure proper fuel handling.
- SFI surveillance audits for Interfor’s coastal woodlands and interior woodlands operations cited good practices such as:
- Making extra efforts on the coast to retain western yew trees in the understory after harvest so they are available to meet the needs of First Nations.
- Using a ledger system with supporting records to track log supply contracts on the coast and ensure conformity with SFI fiber sourcing requirements.
- Promptly reforesting interior locations with a diverse mixture of locally adapted tree species, including more larch because of potential warming due to climate change.
- We work with First Nations, government officials, industry partners and stakeholders to implement the new forestry approaches of the Great Bear Rainforest Order (GBRO). Key initiatives included:
- Hosting a comprehensive training session for 46 forestry professionals.
- Creating a GBRO Implementation Team to develop guidance on the successful implementation of the land use order.
- Leading the work with industry, environmental groups and First Nations on four landscape reserve designs, as well as working with other companies and ecologists to develop criteria for rare red- and blue-listed ecosystems.
- Using technological advancements (LiDAR) to help implement objectives of the GBRO.
Internal and external oversight
- SFI 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard
- Legal and regulatory compliance Objective 9
- Protect threatened and endangered species, old growth management areas, Forests with Exceptional Conservation Value Performance Measure 4.2
- Protection and maintenance of water resources based on best management practices Objective 3
- Promptly replant or regenerate all harvested areas Performance Measure 2.1
- Minimize chemical use Performance Measure 2.2
- Appropriate training of personnel and contractors Performance Measure 11.1
- Broaden awareness of impacts of climate change Performance Measure 10.3
- Western Canada SFI Implementation Committee
- Georgia SFI Implementation Committee
- SFI 2015-2019 Fiber Sourcing Standard
- SFI 2015-2019 Chain-of-Custody Standard
- Interfor’s FSC wood procurement policy statement
- Interfor Wood Purchasing Guide
- BC Forest and Range Practices Act
- Forest Planning and Practices Regulation
- Forest Stewardship Plans
- Managing Resource Values under FRPA
- Section 29 Free growing stands
- BC Old Growth Management Areas
- BC Compliance and Enforcement Program
- BC Forest Act
- BC Environmental Management Act
- BC Wildlife Act
- BC Integrated Pest Management Act
- Canada Federal Migratory Bird Convention Act
- BC Forest Practices Board
- Association of BC Forest Professionals
- Foresters Act
- Code of Ethics
- Professional Reliance
- Species at risk regulations include:
- United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity
- Canada Species at Risk Act
- BC Species & Ecosystems at Risk
- US Fish & Wildlife Service Endangered Species
Benefits of third-party certification
Certification is a market-based, non-regulatory forest conservation tool designed to recognize and promote environmentally responsible forestry and sustainability of forest resources. Currently there are more than 50 forest certification standards worldwide, reflecting the diversity of forest types, ecosystems and tenures. There are subtle differences but most promote sustainable forest management through principles, criteria and objectives consistent with local government processes and public expectations.
Like other credible forest certification programs, the SFI standard promotes principles, criteria and objectives that are viewed around the world as the basis of sustainable forest management. It has balanced governance, with a board that represents environmental, social and economic interests, and it revises its standard regularly through an open public process.
Promoting continuous improvement
Interfor has a culture of continuous improvement. In woodlands operations, this means applying science-based principles and working collaboratively to meet high environmental standards.
Through third-party SFI certification, we address non-conformities and act on opportunities for improvement identified in the annual audit reports.
The 2017 audits for both coastal and interior woodlands found we had addressed all non-conformities from previous audits, and identified two new minor non-conformances related to training in the interior and inspections on the coast.
The reports also listed opportunities for improvement. For interior woodlands, these included ensuring all contactors complete fire preparedness inspection reports, all small streams are properly classified, and skid crossings are removed from small, non-fish bearing streams. The auditors noted that while an unregistered recreational quad trail was not identified in the management plan, field staff took appropriate care to protect it. On the coast, there was an opportunity for improvement related to riparian protection in one block.
Since the audits were completed, Interfor has developed corrective action plans. Auditors will conduct follow-up assessments in 2018.