The forest industry is regulated through legislation, regulations, licences, operating plans, forest management plans and the Saskatchewan Environmental Code.
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, administration, timber scaling, renewal, road building maintenance and reclamation, water crossing installations/maintenance/reclamation and forest grazing and haying. The ministry inspects approximately five per cent of high-risk sites in any given year.
Inspection items: 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 permits and temporary work camp permits.
Observation: compliance education opportunities given to proponents after an inspection, when activities are still within compliance but approaching the non-compliance threshold.
Voluntary compliance opportunity (VCO): a VCO is a compliance tool that applies to minor non-compliances which are normally first offences and 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. A number of enforcement tools, including warnings, orders, administrative penalties and prosecutions are available for use. The ministry uses a stepped compliance model, applying a range of enforcement tools as the situation warrants.
Compliance-related data guides compliance assurance activities. Risk is determined by looking at how effective our controls are and if compliance education, compliance monitoring and enforcement are resulting in industry achieving compliance. There has been a significant increase in voluntary compliance opportunities since VCOs were implemented in 2012-13. This compliance trend is related to more ministry programs using voluntary compliance opportunities as a compliance tool.
Inspection data does not include company self-reporting, immediate investigations or outside inquiries of complaints. 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 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. Forest industry compliance rates show that the ministry is conducting compliance assurance on forest industry activities and is deterring and remedying non-compliance through compliance options and enforcement actions when necessary.