Sustainable Forest Management

Office of the Chief Forester: Policies and Standards

Government continuously refines forest stewardship through ongoing improvement of policies, legislation and practices for forest inventory, timber supply planning, allowable annual cut determinations, silviculture, forest health, land-based research, climate change, and forest genetic resource management. Government's goal is to achieve sustainable management of British Columbia's forests.

The chief forester is an assistant deputy minister responsible for determining timber harvest levels for each timber supply area and tree farm licence in the province. Reporting to the deputy minister, the chief forester also provides key strategic guidance and direction on forest stewardship to forestry practitioners in government and industry. The following ministry programs and branches report through to the chief forester:

  • Forest investment and research management:
  • Forest carbon initiative
  • Integrated investment planning
  • Silviculture
  • Forest health
  • Forest and Range Practices Act policies and support

The chief forester is an independent statutory decision maker who must make the allowable annual cut determinations for Crown forest land in British Columbia based on a wide range of environmental, social and economic factors as specified in Section 8 of the Forest Act including:

  • The rate of timber production that may be sustained from the area
  • The short  and long term implications to the province, of alternative rates of timber harvesting from the area
  • Constraints on the amount of timber produced from the area due to use of the forest for purposes other than timber production
  • The economic and social objectives of the Crown, for the area, the region and the province as expressed by forestry minister
  • The best available professional information regarding fire, insect or disease impacts and major salvage programs planned for an area is considered, measured and analysed as appropriate when making an AAC determination;  however, the chief forester ultimately makes an independent professional judgment. 

Under section 169 of the Forest and Range Practices Act, the chief forester also sets seed, seedling and stocking standards for reforestation of B.C.’s forests. 

Led by the province’s chief forester, the Chief Foresters’ Leadership Team is a group of chief foresters currently operating on B.C.’s Crown land. With a vision to “create unified leadership to help shape future forests through management rooted in science to promote healthy, ecologically diverse, resilient forests that will sustain a strong forest sector in B.C.,” this group supports working toward sustainability while balancing societal, economic, environmental and ecological considerations.