BCGEU report finds B.C.'s forests in crisis: Labour and forest-dependent communities committed to finding solutions

VANCOUVER, May 17 /CNW/ - A new report prepared by the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU), with contributions from residents of forest-dependent communities, finds B.C. forests are in crisis due to a decade of government deregulation and disinvestment, including deep cuts to the BC Forest Service.

Input for the report, B.C. Forests In Crisis: A Community Call for Reform, was collected at a series of community dialogues conducted by the BCGEU earlier this year in Castlegar, Campbell River, Kamloops and Prince George.

The community dialogues gave the BCGEU the chance to engage with community leaders to get a grasp of the key issues and problems facing forest-dependent communities, and hear possible solutions.

"Participants at our community dialogues sounded the alarm bells about forest management. They told us they're finding it hard to reconcile the government's sunny forest industry rhetoric with their experiences as they live with government neglect of the forest sector," said BCGEU President Darryl Walker.

The same themes were raised at each of the four community dialogues.

"We heard similar remarks over and over again: B.C.'s forest communities are struggling and residents believe the government isn't listening to them. Participants also told us the government has failed to manage the forests in the best interests of the public. They also want forest management overhauled," said Walker.

"In every community we visited, participants welcomed the chance to come together to discuss the issues in B.C.'s forests," said Walker. "Leaders in the forest communities made it clear they're committed to finding ways to bring about positive change for both forests and their communities. We urge the government to implement our recommendations."

Recommendations:

STRENGTHEN PUBLIC OVERSIGHT AND ACCOUNTABILITY
Establish a public commission of inquiry to provide an independent assessment of B.C.'s forest sector and the effectiveness of our current laws and practices.

RECOMMIT TO GOOD FOREST STEWARDSHIP
Restore staff and funding to B.C.'s Forest Service, and provide enhanced funding for key programs including compliance and enforcement, forest inventory, research, and reforestation.

RECONNECT COMMUNITIES WITH THEIR FORESTS
Review and reform B.C.'s forest tenure system to provide more local participation in managing local forestlands and ensure communities benefit from local resources.

TAKE REAL ACTION TO GENERATE MORE VALUE FROM B.C.'S FORESTS
Implement strategies to support greater diversification and more value-added enterprises in B.C.'s forest sector, including tightening restrictions on raw log exports.

/NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited members of the media/

SOURCE B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union

For further information:

or to arrange an interview on May 17, please contact Karen Tankard, BCGEU Communications Department at 604-312-1204 or karen.tankard@bcgeu.ca.

Download the full report at: www.bcgeu.ca/forestry_report

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B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union

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