The newly-elected BC provincial government earlier this year has released it’s budget plan, for the general economy and for the forests ministry.
There are some changes in the dollars for the 2017/18 estimate from the previous year. Madison’s caught up with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development Thursday to get details on the new accounting.
British Columbia New Forest Service Plan and Budget Estimate: 2017 / 18
The only major change to the new budget for the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is an increase in Salaries.
BC Forest Products Exports: Value
A media representative at the ministry explained to Madison’s Thursday by email:
- The overwhelming majority of the salary increases reflect salary dollars for firefighters and wildfire support staff, given the record-breaking year for wildfires.
- Generally, over the past five years, there has been a gradual increase in salary dollars; however, not all of these hirings were for forestry staff.
To Madison’s question, “Any information on changes on the ground for forest operators regarding wildfire mitigation / management, and an increase in money for that important issue would be great! also what differences / impact this would have on First Nations and municipalities in rural areas.”
The ministry answered:
- Government has allocated $140 million for the fiscal plan specifically for wildfire risk reduction, wildlife habitat restoration and promoting FireSmart. This includes funds that were directed to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC. The society engages First Nations and local governments and encourages them to submit applications for projects.
This follows an $85 million increase in that budget in the BC Budget released under the Liberal government on February 26, 2017:
“The Strategic Wildfire Prevention Initiative, administered by the Union of BC Municipalities, focusses on reducing the wildfire risk in the two-kilometre wildland-urban interface surrounding communities. With its latest $10-million commitment, government has provided $78 million to this initiative since 2004. The Forest Enhancement Society of BC will complement the efforts of the Strategic Wildfire Prevention
Initiative by supporting critical wildfire prevention work outside of interface areas and providing a landscape-level approach to wildfire risk reduction.”
That spending is part of a broader $235 million the government has invested in the society.
The BC Wildfire Service has six fire centres as well as primary, secondary and forward attack bases and air tanker bases. Annual firefighting costs over the past decade have ranged from $47 million in 2006 to $382 million in 2010, according to the budget update.
BC General Budget
British Columbia’s GDP grew by an estimated 3.7 per cent in 2016. The August 22 government figures are largely in line with unaudited numbers the former Liberal government released in June.
According to a BC government release September, “Building a Strong, Sustainable and Innovative Economy”:
Budget 2017 Update includes new investments that grow jobs and help develop a strong, sustainable and innovative economy for the people and businesses of the province, including:
And specifically in regards to the forests:
- Helping evacuees, communities and businesses impacted by wildfires with $100 million in supports through the Red Cross along with $140 million in forest projects focused on wild re risk reduction, reforestation, wildlife habitat restoration, and raising awareness of the FireSmart program.
Forest Enhancement Society of BC
In February 2016, the BC Government announced the formation of a new organization called the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC). At the time of its formation, the BC Government provided an initial contribution of $85 million to the Society.
According to it’s website, the purposes of the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia are:
To advance environmental and resource stewardship of British Columbia’s forests; and, to advocate for the environmental and resource stewardship of British Columbia’s forests.
Full information on the agency’s mandate can be found here: