Natural resource planning how to recognize the real thing
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Natural Resource Planning How to recognize the real thing. Much which goes by the term “planning” in B.C. natural resource management these days would not qualify

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Natural resource planning how to recognize the real thing
Natural Resource PlanningHow to recognize the real thing

  • Much which goes by the term “planning” in B.C. natural resource management these days would not qualify

  • Ask yourself: What kind of a “real” vertebrate has no backbone? Or, what kind of “real” house has no foundation and supposedly floats in mid-air?

  • There is currently no workable planning framework in place in B.C. Ergo, there is no functional system of natural resource planning.

  • This has enormous implications for everything from social and ecological sustainability, to claims of ecocertification. It is pretty hard to claim sustainability if your planning system is broken.

  • Operational planning is still happening, but in a vacuum.

So what is planning anyways
So, What is Planning anyways?

  • Everybody has their own idea on this, because planning is something everybody does as a basic part of the human condition.

  • So, everybody thinks they’re experts on planning. Therefore, they argue a lot about what the best type of planning should be.

  • So if you ever end up as a planner, expect to have lots of people telling you how to do your job.

Okay so what s a planner then
Okay, so what’s a Planner then?

  • Planners have probably been around ever since civilization began. Life started to get complicated, and people began to specialize.

  • We know what City Planners do – they interpret legislation and policy, analyze trends, and provide information and advice to City Council and the public.

  • Natural resource planners are basically the same, but there are some subtle differences.

The planner as ship navigator
The Planner as Ship Navigator

  • In the early days of sea travel, the captain and the navigator were the same person.

  • As things got more complicated, however, the roles diverged. The navigator was a specialist at plotting a course, analyzing trends, and providing advice to the captain about storms, icebergs, fuel consumption, etc.

  • The captain was still the decision-maker and often overruled the navigator’s advice in order to pursue his own (or the ship’s owner’s) agenda.

  • Which is entirely appropriate. That’s how the world works, and a good navigator understood that and didn’t go off plotting a mutiny every time this happened. He might jump ship at the next port, though...

Kootenay lake resource planning program
Kootenay Lake Resource Planning Program

  • In 1986, a District Planner was hired – Reg Davis

  • The “planner as navigator” analogy pretty much sums up how the Kootenay Lake planning program developed

  • Other Districts varied, depending on the most pressing issues, the District Manager’s priorities and the Planner’s starting skill set.

  • Public involvement/extension was a large part of the program; Steve Flett covered much of this

Analyst and communicator
Analyst and Communicator

  • So, you can see that there are really two distinct roles and skill sets required in a planning program

  • Often, people enter the field with one and have to learn the other. This doesn’t always work out.

  • Many planners arrived via Inventory. Makes sense, since they are familiar with the data. But the basic rule in Inventory – take the same measurements the same way everywhere – tends to not work quite as well when applied to people

Back to basics
Back to Basics

  • Okay, now we know what a planner should be. And planning is kind of decision-support and information management. Right.

  • Which means that planning is an ongoing thing, like a ship’s continuing voyages. It does not end when a “plan document” is created.

  • In short, planning is a verb, not a noun. And the concept of a rigid unchanging plan document is unworkable. A plan document is a snapshot in time, a reference. That’s all.

What process
What Process?

  • It may seem as if there are hundreds of planning processes out there, but some are not really planning processes, they are something else.

  • Of the real ones, all are basically variations on a single theme.

  • A planning process is expected to vary depending on timeframe, urgency, etc. Mostly it varies depending on when the Captain wants an answer and what the consequences of an error might be.

  • It usually does not result in a “plan document” as such, though careful documentation is essential.

The basic planning process
The Basic Planning Process

1. Obtain or develop scope/terms of reference for this project/request – what is the issue, what is needed, and by when?

2. Gather all relevant information, subject to time and resource availability.

3. Analyze information and identify critical issues and implications, including information gaps.

4. Develop workable options for the Captain to review (in some cases you may develop only one if it’s fairly obvious).

5. Obtain decision, and take the necessary steps to implement it (ie. issue the CP)

6. Monitor the results and make changes where necessary.

A note on monitoring
A Note on Monitoring

  • Here is where the ongoing nature of planning becomes obvious. This is also the basis of adaptive management

  • Currently, effectiveness monitoring is being conducted through the Forest and Range Evaluation Program, looking at individual resources without an integrated planning context. This greatly reduces its operational relevance.

Other points
Other Points

  • You can see, then, that generating a plan document and then considering the work done is not a planning process. That’s probably short term issue management.

  • Neither is generating or pushing only a single option (ie. your favourite) at the Captain. That’s advocacy, and potentially a conflict of interest.

  • Neither is generating options which are inconsistent with legislation or the Captain’s direction. That’s mutiny.

  • However, pointing out errors or issues with legislation or the Captain’s orders is entirely appropriate. Once you have done so, though, either get back to work or get off at the next port. This can be a difficult part of the job if you begin to suspect that the Captain(s) are untrustworthy.

The planning framework or hierarchy
The Planning Framework (or Hierarchy)

  • In our current system of government, certain decisions are made at different administrative levels.

  • Decisions made by the District Manager are expected to be consistent with land use and tenure decisions made by Cabinet

  • If issues or roadblocks arise as a result of higher level decisions, then feedback from lower levels is needed in order for adaptive management to happen.

  • If planning is a decision support tool, then, it has to have effective links to all administrative levels. A planning framework is designed to ensure that input data and decision-making occur at the appropriate administrative level, and that the levels communicate with each other in both directions. And also to keep politics at the appropriate levels.

  • See the next slide for an example of what we were using in 1986

Bc mof 1986 resource planning manual framework
BC MoF 1986 Resource Planning Manual Framework

  • Basically functional, though “Regional Priorities” was mostly there to give the impression that Regional planning staff (like me at the time) actually did something.

  • Forest Management Planning (TSA/TFL) was intended to provide overall direction, but got bogged down in detail and was replaced by the Timber Supply Review process in 1992 (which attempted to review timber supply in a timely manner but did not generate a plan).

  • Kootenay Lake had something like 25 LRUPs going at various times, mostly focussed on watershed issues. These met with some, but limited, success.

The code fails
The Code Fails

  • One of the main shortcomings of the Forest Practices Code in 1995 was its failure to develop and actively promote a workable planning framework.

  • Instead, it promoted “higher level plans” which emphasized legal land-use designations

  • The concept of landscape units as the basic strategic direction underneath land-use decisions was clearly identified in the Code, and several Districts attempted to move this forward, but most resources ended up being devoted to land use planning which is inherently difficult due to its political nature.

  • The Landscape Unit Planning Guide, in 1999, only spoke to old growth and wildlife tree requirements (with no significant change to those originally identified in the 1995 Biodiversity Guidebook).


For Immediate ReleaseDecember 6, 2000

Board Releases Review of BC's Forest Planning

Victoria -Fundamental changes to the way forest development is planned in B.C. are recommended in a report released today by the Forest Practices Board. The report concludes the board's provincewide review of the forest development planning process. Forest development plans are prepared by individual forest companies and the Ministry of Forests' Small Business Forest Enterprise Program.

The board is recommending that government develop plans to manage a full range of forest resources at the "landscape" or "watershed" level, rather than at the cutblock level.

"These plans would provide strategies and measures for protecting all forest resources in the area of the plan," said board Chair Bill Cafferata. "The public would have to be consulted in development of the landscape unit plans, and would have the opportunity to comment on the objectives for the full range of forest resources including timber, water, fish, wildlife, and recreation.“

"Once these landscape unit plans are in place, foresters will not have to 'reinvent the wheel' every time they prepare a forest development plan. They can focus on proposing roads and cutblocks that meet the strategies and measures already agreed to in the landscape unit plan," said Cafferata.

Well that never happened
Well, that never happened

  • During the Great Purge of 2002, the planning function was largely removed from the Forest Service and a new ministry created: MSRM (later ILMB).

  • Planning moved from the District to the Regional (land use) level. Endless KBLUP debate ensued and landscape unit planning was all but forgotten. Though, in Kootenay Lake, with Mike Knapik’s help, we did do a few.

And then frpa
And then... FRPA

  • Not much to add here. FRPA was touted as “results based” and the solution to the mess that planning was in during the Code years.

  • The problem with the Code was not that it was too rigid and procedural. All the guidebooks had provision for alternate strategies if a planner or proponent was prepared to defend them. But there was no planning framework to enable this.

  • Forest Stewardship Plans became the focus, which was good in some ways since at least they had to be operationally feasible.

  • But it was a bit much to expect licensees to sort out all the resource issues, especially in complex areas like Kootenay Lake. Excessive gov’t regulation is certainly to be avoided, but abrogation of responsibilities is not the answer.

  • And, of course, the planning framework pretty much vanished. Gov’t set objectives, industry did FSP’s, and there we were.

So, if it ever comes back, what should our Planning Framework look like? Maybe something like this which I suggested to the Minister (based on the proven CRMP approach):

1. Legislation and policy

2. Land Use Designations (ie. parks, working forest)

3. Resource Management Planning (landscape unit)

4. Operational Planning (ie. site plans)

(Forest Stewardship Plans are really just detailed tenure documents which touch on all of the above levels)

Other frameworks exist
Other Frameworks Exist Framework look like? Maybe something like this which I suggested to the Minister (based on the proven CRMP approach):

  • Forest analysts sometimes refer to the “tactical” planning level as something in between “strategic” and “operational” planning.

  • It seems to be related to “gaming”, or running analytical scenarios. In my mind, that occurs as part of either strategic or operational planning.

  • But having a workable and consistent framework which is supported at all levels is more important than what it looks like or what we call the levels.

  • The CRMP framework has many advantages, notably that it is simple, understandable, has been around for many decades, and it works.

Land use planning
Land Use Planning Framework look like? Maybe something like this which I suggested to the Minister (based on the proven CRMP approach):

  • In our early planning years, the lack of a clear land use plan was a detriment. We kept getting roped into land use debates, which were not decisions that we could affect.

  • The CORE process and the 1995 KBLUP resolved most of the Protected Area vs. working forest issues. This was needed.

  • The next step needed to be strategic resource management planning at the landscape unit level. Instead, resources were squandered trying to resolve resource management issues at the land use (political) level. The 1997 KBLUP Implementation Strategy accomplished very little and has never been updated. The KB HLPO contained relatively little of substance.

  • Other land use issues such as mountain caribou continue to surface as one-offs, which is very disruptive to the strategic and operational planning levels. Land Use plans need to be monitored and updated over time, but you need to keep these changes to a minimum.

Integrated planning
Integrated Planning Framework look like? Maybe something like this which I suggested to the Minister (based on the proven CRMP approach):

  • Needless to say, integrated planning is preferred to single-interest advocacy.

  • We constantly have people advocating “old growth plans”, “recreation plans”, “caribou plans”, “visual management plans”, “watershed plans”, and so on.

  • But these are not plans until they have emerged from an integrated planning process. They are single-interest scenarios or wish-lists with little chance of survival if developed in isolation of the larger picture.

  • At the end of the day, the legislated decision-makers still make the decisions about permit issuance, etc. That does not change, but hopefully they can make better decisions within an informed and up to date context.

A quick review
A Quick Review Framework look like? Maybe something like this which I suggested to the Minister (based on the proven CRMP approach):

  • Planning is a verb, not a noun

  • Planning is a system of decision support and information management with effective links to all administrative levels

  • There is no working planning framework in place in BC at this time.

  • Many people with the word “planner” or “planning” in their job title have no clue what the real thing is.

  • Eventually, it will return. When that happens, press as hard as you can for a working framework and long term commitment to all levels.

Strategic resource management planning landscape unit level
Strategic Resource Management Planning (Landscape Unit Level)

  • The key thing about this level is that it deals with decisions which are within the jurisdiction of local decision-makers, ie. DM. You do not need additional legislative approval!

  • Here is where an accurate picture of the operationally relevant resource management issues can be generated, ie. resource maps.

  • This provides an informed and defensible context for decision-making relative to all resource values. The landscape unit compilations (or “plans”, if you wish) can be used by all agencies for this purpose. Interagency issues can be identified and acted on jointly.

  • See examples of some LU compilations conducted in Kootenay Lake in the past: K03, K05, K16, K18.

Why landscape units
Why Landscape Units? Level)

  • RMP can occur at any geographical scale, but landscape units are preferred since a number of management strategies/targets are based on that boundary.

  • Smaller areas such as community watersheds within an LU will have different issues and strategies associated with them, and may take up most of the time. That’s to be expected; it is not a problem.

  • It is hard to wrap one’s mind around all the resource issues and interactions if you go larger than landscape units.

  • This is the level where the rubber meets the road. Where the strategic meets the operational. And now, a bit of history.

Crmp in b c
CRMP in B.C. Level)

  • Around 1975, Bill Anderson was hired by the BC Forest Service to implement a CRMP planning framework which included provincial interagency agreements to provide supporting staff and funding.

  • The main driver was the federal/provincial Agriculture and Rural Development Agreement (ARDA) which provided funding for range improvements, infrastructure (ie. 3-phase power) and habitat enhancement projects, provided a CRMP was in place.

  • Participants included MoF, MoE, and tenure holders.

  • Nearly 50 in the old Nelson Region; most with a range/grazing focus. All but one faded away once the funding dried up.

  • The Yahk CRMP, however, is still alive and kicking after 33 years.

  • The CRMP process was also used for Lasca Creek in 1992-93 (Bill Anderson came to Nelson and gave us a day’s instruction). Participants completed a consensual plan document. However, the area was subsequently made into the West Arm Park, so this is the plan that was never implemented.

Crmp is real
CRMP is real Level)

  • It was developed at the ground-level, with beginnings in Oregon in 1949.

  • Because so many CRMPs in BC were range oriented, people have the idea that CRMPs are for range. Lasca Creek cleared up that point.

  • The basic principles are straightforward, and they work. They do not achieve miracles, however.

  • One significant difference in the U.S. is the fragmented land ownership. Here, our CRMPs often consist only of Crown land. Down there, they may consist of federal, state, private, and other parcels. Conflicts are often between different landowners rather than different interests on public land.

Many others are not
Many others are not Level)

  • We have seen many examples of people promoting their own “brand” of planning process, and making exorbitant claims.

  • Any planning process which makes such claims is instantly recognisable to veteran planners as high-sounding BS.

  • Gov’t, desperately seeking the Holy Grail of planning which would make conflict go away, gave unwarranted credence to some of these.

  • Processes which claim to be “integrated”, “coordinated”, or “ecosystem-based” generally have nothing new to offer that CRMP did not identify decades ago. Many of these do not even acknowledge the framework issue.

  • Even the advent of GIS is not entirely new.

History folio plans
History - Folio Plans Level)

  • Even before GIS, the concept of map “layers” to inform decision-making was well known

  • “Folio” plans were very similar to our current landscape unit compilations, except they had fewer maps and they were hand-coloured. Our information base is much improved now; we just need to use it.

  • Examples include Argenta and Kamma Creek (a copy of Kamma Creek – 1977 - still exists)

  • These were real, but were usually generated to address a specific issue rather than an ongoing process, and at the time, a workable framework was lacking.

History subunit plans
History - Subunit Plans Level)

  • Some Districts found the term “Local Resource Use Plan” to be cumbersome. The term “subunit plan” was often preferred in Kootenay Lake – being a subunit of the management unit (TSA)

  • Examples include Pilot Peninsula, Blewett, Smallwood, and Kokanee Creek. These have little relevance now, though occasionally someone may bring one in with a question.

  • They were real, but as with all plans, they lose relevance if not maintained and updated. And the framework, though present, had problems.

Snippets of crmp wisdom
Snippets of CRMP wisdom Level)

  • “Natural resource management problems often relate as much to the behaviour of people as to the behaviour of an ecosystem”

  • “Achieving social change among the people involved in a particular resource management problem may be as important and difficult, or more so, than making changes in the ecosystem”.

  • “As irritating and obnoxious as some extremists are, it helps the moderator and the planning group if they will recognize that it is the extremist who gives power to the moderator”.

Crmp is also about working with people
CRMP is Level)also about working with people

  • The group-planning part of CRMP is structured so that agreement is reached on as many points as possible before tackling the “big ticket” issues.

  • The act of coming to agreement on minor issues gets people used to listening and to saying “yes”. They also, almost without realizing it, gain an understanding of the other participants.

  • The structured resource management formats keep the process on track and facilitate the learning process

  • Expectations are kept realistic. Changes to existing land use designations, legislation and tenures are not within the terms of reference of the group, although participants can flag their concerns to higher levels.

  • Basically, the planning group has decision-making power for those topics where it can come to agreement. In the absence of agreement, decisions are made by the legislated agency. This provides an incentive to focus on those issues where agreement is possible.

Resource formats
Resource formats Level)

  • Think of them as a detailed meeting agenda, in order to focus discussion

  • The nice thing about the resource formats is that you can change them to whatever makes sense. If a different issue or discussion point comes up, just add it.

  • Existing CRMP formats did have a range slant, so we re-wrote them for Lasca Creek and subsequent Yahk CRMP updates.

Lasca creek format for watershed
Lasca Level) Creek format for Watershed

  • Water Licensing

  • Fish Habitat

  • Water Quality protection

  • Road construction

  • Stream Crossings

  • Access Control

  • Forest Cover Removal

  • Alluvial Fans

  • Riparian Areas

  • Chemicals

  • Recharge Areas

  • Contingency Plan

For each topic, the discussion is summarized and decision points noted. Disagreements can be documented as well.

Get them used to agreeing with each other
Get them used to agreeing with each other points noted. Disagreements can be documented as well.

  • If you can’t reach agreement on one of these topics, simply shelve it and move along. Once you have completed everything you can agree on, it becomes easier to address the outstanding issues.

  • In the case of Lasca Creek, we had 21 issues outstanding when we got to the end. In our next meeting, we resolved all but three of them.

In closing
In Closing points noted. Disagreements can be documented as well.

  • Timing is everything. When the current lack of a planning framework finally comes to a head, this concept needs to be pushed hard by people who know what they are talking about.

  • Beware of hype and unrealistic claims about the wonderful things the new planning process is going to do.

  • Don’t let the resource management planning level get abandoned again. It really is the pivot point of the whole framework, the interface between the strategic and the operational.

  • Keep politics out of resource management planning. Leave them at the legislative, policy and land use levels, where they belong.

  • Even if you aren’t generating actual plan documents, the planning framework is a useful reference. Much of what I did over the years was in the RMP level, even if it was just a 10 minute data query. And, landscape unit files have proven an excellent place to store information.