The Minister has expressed the social and economic objectives of the Crown for the province in two documents to the chief forester: a letter dated July 28, 1994, (attached as Appendix 3) and a memorandum dated February 26, 1996, (attached as Appendix 4). I understand both documents to apply to TFL 45. They are consistent with the objectives stated in the Forest Renewal Plan and include forest stewardship, a stable timber supply, and allowance of time for communities to adjust to harvest level changes in a managed transition from old-growth to second-growth forests, so as to provide for continuity of employment.
The Minister also stated in his letter that "any decreases in allowable cut at this time should be no larger than are necessary to avoid compromising long-run sustainability." He placed particular emphasis on the importance of long-term community stability and the continued availability of forest jobs. To this end he asked that the chief forester consider the potential impacts on timber supply of commercial thinning and harvesting in previously uneconomical areas. The latter would likely require the use of alternative harvesting systems, and to encourage this the Minister suggested consideration of partitioned AACs.
As discussed above, under Commercial thinning, no commercial thinning has yet been undertaken in TFL 45, and none is planned. With regard to operability, I note that the licensee plans to harvest in marginal stands and in areas suitable for helicopter harvesting systems, as discussed under operability. Current opportunities for harvesting in previously uneconomical areas have been accounted for in the analysis, and I am satisfied that the assumptions used in the analysis appropriately reflect the objectives expressed by the Minister.
The Minister's memorandum addressed the effects of visual resource management on timber supply. It asked that pre-Code constraints applied to timber supply in order to meet VQOs be re-examined when determining AACs in order to ensure they do not unreasonably restrict timber supply when considered in conjunction with other Code requirements. As noted above, under visually sensitive areas, VQOs place significant limitations on timber supply in TFL 45, and I have addressed that impact in light of the memorandum under "Reasons for Decision."