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Compliance and Enforcement of the Forest Industry

Truck hauling timber

The forest industry is regulated through legislation, regulations, the Saskatchewan Environmental Code, licences, forest management plans and operating plans

What's happening

Whats Happening 2022

What we are Doing

The ministry focuses staff training and proponent education and compliance efforts on higher-risk items identified through data analysis and compliance planning. Priority compliance areas include riparian areas, water crossings, roads, soil protection, data submission, renewal and activities that affect landscape-level forest management objectives.

Inspections: ministry inspections provide compliance information on activities such as harvesting, licensing and approval administration, timber scaling, renewal, road building/maintenance/reclamation, water crossing installations/maintenance/reclamation, forest grazing and haying. The ministry inspects approximately five per cent of high-risk sites in any given year.

Inspection items: for each inspection conducted, multiple inspection items may be assessed for compliance. Compliance items range from, but are not limited to, timber utilization, harvesting standards, forest management plan VOITS (values, objectives, indicators and targets), visual resource management, cut control, aquatic habitat protection and temporary work camp permit items.

Observations: are compliance education opportunities given to proponents after an inspection, when activities are still in compliance but trending toward and potentially leading to a non-compliant situation.

Voluntary compliance opportunity (VCO): a VCO is a compliance tool that applies to minor non-compliances which are normally first offences or where self-reporting has occurred. A VCO is an option used by the ministry when the proponent is willing and able to remedy the non-compliance. This compliance option allows the proponent an opportunity to rectify the non-compliance in a timely and effective manner.

Warnings, orders, administrative penalties, and prosecutions: where a non-compliance is more serious, or if the proponent fails to comply with a VCO, further enforcement action is required to compel the proponent into compliance. Several enforcement tools, including warnings, orders, administrative penalties, or prosecutions are available for use. The ministry takes a stepped approach within its compliance model, applying a range of enforcement tools as the situation warrants.

Number of inspections and compliance rate vs. number of inspection

Number of observations by inspection items

The number of inspections over the past 10 years on forestry operations remain steady between 400 and 600. In 2020-21 for example 521 inspections were conducted by the ministry on forestry operations covering a total of 1,816 inspection items. Inspection data does not include company self-reporting, immediate investigations, or outside inquiries of complaints. The trend for forest industry compliance rate is steady and is considered good but could be improved. When VCOs were implemented in 2012-13, they were frequently used. However, in recent years, the usage has been trending downward. VCOs are typically applied to minor non-compliances that can be easily remedied, so their use may fluctuate based on the amount of industry self-reporting of non-compliances, reoccurrence of offences which lead to other actions, more serious offences occurring, or it may have even been due to performance improvement which led to less actions being taken. This can be seen in 2020-21 where there was a decline in total enforcement actions.

The ministry is modernizing its compliance database to improve compliance analytics and reporting capabilities.

Why it matters

The forest industry maintains a competitive advantage provincially, nationally, and internationally through responsible stewardship of forest resources. Achieving high rates of compliance aids industry in maintaining a licence to operate, and third-party certification which gives companies greater access to product markets.

The public expects the ministry, as a regulator, to ensure that resource extraction activities balance environmental protection, economic opportunities and social benefits of Saskatchewan's forests. The compliance statistics presented here demonstrate that the ministry is conducting compliance assurance activities and ensuring non-compliances are remedied through use of its compliance tools and enforcement actions when necessary.

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