After 10 years of being constantly stripped down, the BC Forest Service now stands cold and shivering. Foresters and associations around the province are finally saying “enough is enough” and standing up to the relentless attacks as the Forest Service approaches its 100th anniversary.
In a report released last week, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives outlined it perfectly in its title, “Axed”. It shows that nearly 25 per cent of the ministry has been cut, resulting in the loss of 1,000 full time jobs. Mounting workloads and a recent irresponsible re-organization has created an environment where our forests are no longer being managed for the greater good and health of this province.
Targeted personnel in the cuts over the years have chiefly been the people who have had the responsibility to contribute to forest policy and overarching best practices when it comes to forest management. Those positions largely have been hydrologists, biologists, forest ecologists and silviculturalists, to name a few. The report plainly hits on a key issue, that “ we are losing our collective eyes and ears in the forest, a trend that is unfortunately being replicated in other provincial government departments including the Ministry of Environment.”
There simply aren’t enough personnel anymore to staff key operations such as growth and yield, inventory sample plots and research station; all of which are important for determinations in regards to looking at future allowable harvests and forest modeling. One forester pointed out that “ the lack of baseline information means the public can have no confidence that their forests are sustainably managed.”
The situation has become so dire that UNBC forestry professors as well as the Confederation of University Faculty Association of B.C. made a plea to both the Liberals and New Democrats last week. Their hopes were that whomever becomes the next leader of those parties, understands the need for forest research and long-term investments.
Pat Bell’s response, “The [governments’] focus in forestry research has shifted to increasing growth and forest yield.” While the minister’s response to the UNBC faculty and the Confederation of University Faculty Association of B.C. may bear some merit in some circles, I feel that the shift of the Ministry of Forests’ focus will have undue consequences in the long term.
As a holistic and integrated field of science and management, forest managers have to consider all aspects of forest ecosystems and values. With the cuts to the forest service over the last 10 years, as well as the near-abolition of the forest research branch, I feel that we are going to shortchange our province’s future in forestry as the paradigm shifts from forest management’ to timber management’. A healthy forestry sector cannot exist without a healthy forest.
Student of Forest