VANCOUVER, Aug. 15, 2012 /CNW/ - The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union welcomed the release of the legislature's Special Committee on Timber Supply report today, which makes several key recommendations that, if fully implemented, could help move to reverse a decade of budget cuts and mismanagement of B.C.'s public forests ministry.
The report recommends shifts in forest policy and increased funding to restore some services previously cut by the B.C. Liberal government, including increasing resources for compliance and enforcement, inventory, silviculture and an increased planning role for local communities.
"This report amounts to an admission that the B.C. government's forest policies have failed," says BCGEU president Darryl Walker. "While the recommendations begin to address the lack of timber supply and incoherent forest management practices, it is clear that significant resources will be needed to achieve the committee's goals."
The committee report follows up on warnings from the Auditor General about the impact of budget cuts on forest inventory and research services, which have been cut further this year to $8.4 million, from a historic average of $15 million annually. The Association of B.C. Forest Professionals has estimated that foresters are now making decisions based on inventory data that is at least 20-30 years out of date.
More than one thousand forest ministry jobs have been cut over the past decade, in areas including compliance and enforcement, research, inventory, and silviculture. The Forest Practices Board has warned that the government is no longer able to track forest harvesting and restocking activities and is "concerned" that industry self-reporting is incomplete, inaccurate or filed late.
"This report is a good first step, but will only be successful if the government restores public oversight in B.C. forests and puts boots on the ground to implement the committee's recommendations," says Byron Goerz, chair of the BCGEU's Environmental, Technical and Operational component. "The work won't get done by itself, and it has become clear that self-regulation isn't working."
The union also supports recommendations that call for re-engaging local communities in the forest planning process, and a review of raw log export policy to ensure adequate domestic supply.
SOURCE: B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union
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