For the last several years, the first of April, 2013 has been on all of our minds; for the last few weeks, the new forestry scheme has been in place. This signals a major shift for the logging and forestry industry in Quebec and will bring its share of adjustments for all parties involved, particularly for entrepreneurs and for the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The most important aspect will undoubtedly be that the contractors’ customer has changed. Under the old system, the holder of a forest management permit was responsible for the reforestation after the harvest. From this point forward, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) will grant contracts for the implementation of silviculture. These two future partners must learn to work together and moreover, to trust each other. Dialogue will be essential so that each party realizes the objectives and constraints that exist for the other. Each has its own concerns; the contractor to perform quality work while making its operations profitable and the MNR to ensure that public funds are well managed and that effective accounting takes places.
Also, it should be noted that the companies will have to sign “ETTF” (ententes de travaux techniques forestiers) as well as the usual “ERTS”(ententes de realisation de travaux sylvicoles). On another hand, there are the elements included from now on for the operational planning : surveying for land, making a survey of the inventory before treatment, taking inventory data before treatment, beaconing (taping), proposal requirements, conducting quality control inventories (after treatment) and compilation and analysis of inventories after treatment, processing of geographical data and finally tailoring the report to be signed by an engineer member of the Ordre des ingénieurs forestiers du Québec.
All new systems experience unexpected challenges, adaptations, and delays while being implemented- this new forestry regime will as well. In the beginning, 25% of the projects were supposed to be auctioned. However, with the budget cuts to silvicultural work in 2013, as well as the extra work the MNR must undertake to be prepared, the volume of work to be auctioned is more likely to be around 10%. This will decrease the amount of work required by the ministry during the period this new regime is put into place.
What’s more, certification requirements will be modified. In fact, the ministry has confirmed that companies doing non-commercial silvicultural work will no longer be obliged to hold an ISO-14001 certificate. On the other hand, companies will still be required to hold a PGES (pratiques de gestion des entreprises sylvicoles) for non-commercial work. In order to respect article 62 of the law on sustainable forest development (“Les activités d'aménagement forestier planifiées sont réalisées par le ministre ou par des entreprises d'aménagement détenant un certificat reconnu par le ministre ou inscrites à un programme pour l'obtention d'un tel certificat[…]”)*, the obligation for certification will still be upheld. For the 2013-2014 season, companies will have the choice between ISO 14001 certification, or a new environmental management certification adapted for silviculture that is expected to be announced in the fall. However, given that this certification will not be ready until then, silviculture companies will have to take it upon themselves to maintain environmentally sound practices in the meantime. Starting next year silvicultural companies will be held to the requirements of environmental management system, or ISO-14001, or the standard that will be prepared by the Quebec Standards Service. The ministry agrees to consult associations throughout the tabling of this new certification. Improving the Environmental Management System component and keeping its primary goals consistent is preferable to adding a second standard for non-commercial silvicultural work.
In order to ensure progress of this new system there must be a common goal of developing a positive dynamic between the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Conseil du Trésor, and representatives for silviculture contractors. These relationships will redefine the various tasks in order to better delegate them and maximize efficiency. The presence of the Conseil du Trésor is reassuring to silvicultural contractors since it will, in some respect, play the role of financial partner by authorizing all future silvicultural budgets in the future.
* Translated as: the activities of planned sustainable forest development will be executed by companies holding a certificate recognized by the ministry or enrolled in a program to obtain such a certificate