GUIDE TO THE APPLICATION OF THE REGULATION RESPECTING THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF FORESTS IN THE DOMAIN OF THE STATE

Complete guide

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Was a sustainable development process used to prepare the Regulation respecting the sustainable development of forests in the domain of the State?

A: Yes. Public participation is a major part of sustainable forest development. The Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) therefore wanted to hear the population’s opinions and suggestions before preparing the Regulation. The 2010 public consultations on the content of the draft Sustainable Forest Development Regulation clearly illustrated the MFFP’s commitment to dialogue with the population. In 2014, the population had another opportunity to express its views, this time as part of the legislative process prior to publication of the Regulation. This type of dual public consultation during preparation of a regulation is exceptional and does not usually occur.

Q2: At what level – regionally or for all forests in the domain of the State – does the Regulation respecting the sustainable development of forests in the domain of the State take into account the concerns of stakeholders affected by sustainable forest management and development issues?

A: The Regulation takes into account the stakeholders’ general concerns, since it contains basic rules to ensure sustainable management of Québec’s public forests. However, it does not address specific regional issues because there are so many of them and they change constantly. Forest stakeholders can establish measures adapted to regional aspects via the local integrated land and resource management panels. It is important to note that the Sustainable Forest Development Act allows the Minister to impose standards that differ from those set out in the Regulation, and to authorize departures from the standards. Decisions such as this may be driven by environmental characteristics and the nature of the projects to be carried out. In all cases, the protection afforded to forest resources must be equivalent or more stringent.

Q3: Which section of the Sustainable Forest Development Act allows the Government to regulate forest development activities?

A: Section 38, which states that:

“The Government may, by regulation, prescribe sustainable forest development standards for anyone carrying on a forest development activity in a forest in the domain of the State. The main object of the standards is to ensure the preservation or renewal of the forest cover, the protection of the forest environment, the conciliation of forest development activities with the activities pursued by Native people and other users of the forest, and the compatibility of forest development activities with the use of land in the domain of the State under the land use plan provided for in the Act respecting the lands in the domain of the Stat (chapter T-8.1).

Among other things, the standards may cover:

  1. the area, location and spatial organization of forest operations and the residual forest areas after those operations;
  2. the protection of lakes, watercourses, riparian areas and wetlands;
  3. the protection of soil and water quality;
  4. the installation and use of piling, lopping, sawing and transfer areas;
  5. the location, construction, improvement, repair, maintenance and decommissioning of roads;
  6. the site of forest camps, sugar bush buildings and equipment and other infrastructures;
  7. the regulation of forest development activities in order to protect various resources, sites or land units;
  8. the forest development activities affecting wildlife protection, management and utilization activities in controlled territories within the meaning of the Act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife (chapter C-61.1);
  9. the application of sylvicultural treatments, including marking activities; and
  10. the protection of forest regeneration.

The Government may also determine, by regulation, the provisions of the regulation whose violation constitutes an offence and specify, from among the fines prescribed in section 245, the one to which an offender is liable for a given offence.”

Q4: In what circumstances are forest developers subject to the provisions of the Regulation respecting the sustainable development of forests in the domain of the State?

A: Forest developers are subject to the Regulation’s provisions when performing forest development activities:

  • as defined in section 4 of the Sustainable Forest Development Act;
  • on lands in the domain of the State;
  • in forests in the domain of the State;
  • in the area to which the Regulation applies, which extends up to the northern forest tundra boundary.
Q5: What new elements have been included in the Regulation respecting the sustainable development of forests in the domain of the State, and what has been improved, compared to the previous regulation?

A: The new elements and improvements:

  • implement ecosystem-based development in the spruce-moss forest;
  • introduce adapted forestry practices on land used by outfitters with exclusive rights, as well as in controlled zones and wildlife sanctuaries;
  • provide better protection for the visual settings of certain recreation and tourism sites (1.5 to 3 km);
  • give greater consideration to the basic needs of certain wildlife species;
  • ensure free circulation of fish in culverts;
  • protect sites with long-term soil fertility problems;
  • regulate forest development activities near sugar bushes operated for acericultural purposes.
Q6: How does the Regulation respecting the sustainable development of forests in the domain of the State foster the introduction of ecosystem-based forest development?

A: For forests in the spruce-moss bioclimatic domain, the Regulation includes provisions on the distribution of cutting areas and residual forest areas, which form the basis of ecosystem-based management.

For forests in the balsam fir and maple bioclimatic domains, the Regulation renews the standards that have been in force since 2003 on the distribution of cutting areas and residual forest areas (including block cutting). However, in these domains, there are plans to include a new approach in the Regulation, as quickly as possible, on the distribution of cutting areas within a context of ecosystem-based development.

This new approach is gradually being deployed in development units in the balsam fir bioclimatic domain, where exemptions to the block cutting rules have been granted under the Sustainable Forest Development Act in order to allow for an ecosystem-based approach to logging. This approach is being deployed with a view to finalizing operational guidelines governing the volume, configuration, composition and distribution of the residual forest.

Q7: The Regulation respecting the sustainable development of forests in the domain of the State contains numerous standards to ensure the free flow of fish in culverts. Why is this important?

A: When building culverts, it is important to ensure that they do not become obstacles for fish (e.g. water that is too shallow, excessive flow rate through the culvert, creation of a vertical drop at the culvert exit).

Fish move from place to place throughout their lives, seeking good quality habitats that provide food, shelter and a place to breed. It is vital for fish to be able to circulate freely, in order to meet these needs. If they are unable to feed properly, they will not thrive. Their growth may be retarded, their ability to reproduce may be compromised, and they may become easier prey for predators. During the breeding season, obstacles may delay their arrival at spawning grounds or prevent them from accessing the best sites, thereby depriving them of suitable conditions for incubation of their eggs and affecting the survival rate of their young.

Q8: Is water evacuated by natural drainage and water circulating at the base of a road embankment or in a rut considered to be a watercourse for the purposes of the Regulation respecting the sustainable development of forests in the domain of the State?

A: No. These elements are not considered to be watercourses (permanent or intermittent) for the purposes of the Regulation.

Q9: Is permission needed to construct, improve or close a forest road?

A: Yes. The Sustainable Forest Development Act prohibits the construction, improvement or closure of a multi-purpose road unless authorization has been obtained from the regional office of the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP).

Q10: Is a permit required to maintain and repair a forest road?

A: No. The Sustainable Forest Development Act does not require prior authorization to maintain or repair a forest road. However, there are numerous provisions in the Regulation that apply to road maintenance and repair work.

Q11: Are hauling trails, dogsledding trails, hiking trails, winter roads, mining roads, exceptional roads and Class 1 to Class 5 roads subject to the Regulation respecting the sustainable development of forests in the domain of the State?

R: Yes. These roads and trails are all subject to the Regulation, even though some of them are not specifically named in the text. The terms “trail” and “road” are not defined in the Regulation, meaning that the legal system recognizes the dictionary definition: a wide way leading from one place to another (Oxford). Unless otherwise noted in a section of the Regulation (e.g. road, other than a felling or hauling trail), the Regulation applies to all roads in the forest.

However, the Sustainable Forest Development Act places certain restrictions on multi-purpose roads. The Act defines a multi-purpose road as a road in the forest, other than a mining road. For the purposes of the Regulation, the term “road” therefore has a broader meaning than the term “multi-purpose road” as defined in the Sustainable Forest Development Act. A mining road in the forest is subject to the Regulation. However, the authorization system applicable to mining roads is set out in the Mining Act, not in the Sustainable Forest Development Act.

Q12: Must a vacationer who builds a road to a cottage located in the public forest apply the standards of the Regulation respecting the sustainable development of forests in the domain of the State?

A: Yes, because road construction is a forest development activity within the meaning of section 4 of the Sustainable Forest Development Act.

Q13: Which legal system applies to roads under the authority of the Ministère des Transports that are not subject to the Regulation respecting the sustainable development of forests in the domain of the State?

A: The Environment Quality Act and the Act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife both apply to these roads.

Q14: Which legal system applies to roads constructed on land in the domain of the State that is located beyond the northern limit of the forest tundra domain?

R: The Environment Quality Act and the Act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife both apply to these roads.

Q15: The Regulation respecting the sustainable development of forests in the domain of the State applies to every person carrying out forest development activities in the public forest. What are the criteria for deciding whether or not a given activity in the public forest is a forest development activity?

A: Under the Sustainable Forest Development Act, a forest development activity is an activity related to timber felling and harvesting, the operation of a sugar bush, the construction, improvement, repair, maintenance or closure of infrastructures, the carrying out of silvicultural treatments, including reforestation and the use of fire, fire protection, the suppression of insect epidemics, cryptogamic diseases and competing vegetation, and all similar activities that tangibly affect forest resources. For example, logging inventories and searching for areas needing silvicultural work are both forest development activities, because they are related to silvicultural treatments and timber felling and harvesting. The activities that precede commercial or non-commercial sylvicultural treatments are forest development activities. These can include surveys to identify land in need of sylviculture work, delimiting cut blocks, and carrying out intervention inventories and timber marking.

Q16: What numeric information layers must be used to perform the peak flow calculations required before constructing, improving or repairing a bridge or culvert?

A: The most up-to-date numerical information layers available from the MFFP.