Huge Minister of Forests Budget Cuts Produce an Intimidated Staff and Terrible Forest Practices

Since 2002, the BC Liberal government has slashed more than 1,100 forestry workers' jobs from the Forests and Range ministry. That, along with former premier Gordon Campbell’s idiotic move to collapse the forests ministry into that “super” ministry has resulted in a demoralized and intimidated staff. Also in 2002, the B.C. Liberals changed provincial forestry laws, lessening the obligation of harvesters to replant. Then they cut the budget for silviculture by almost 90 per cent. Ten years later, we have learned that there are more than one million hectares of  “not sufficiently restocked” land.

Then we have British Columbia's Auditor General John Doyle's recently released report on the state of timber management by the Minister of Forests which says, "...by any measure is a scathing indictment of the ministry and proof that the continuous funding cuts made by 11 years of BC Liberal government have left a once proud Forest Service in disarray. Each budget year rolls out deeper and deeper cuts, laying off experienced professional staff and severely reducing the Ministry’s ability to fulfill its purpose."

Over 90% of British Columbia is Crown land, owned by all the people of British Columbia, and it is the responsibility of the Forest Service to act as stewards for this land and cutting of staff  is incredibly short-sighted. It's also effective if your goal is to generate reports from that now insecure staff that agree with your pre-conceived agenda.

Professional foresters are highly trained intelligent people who know full well that clear-cuts and mono-culture plantations aren't good forestry practices. Many have attended courses like those of of UBC Forestry Prof. Suzanne Simard, who at UBC lectures on and researches the role of mycorrhizae and mycorrhizal networks in the web of life that supports us all. All of them are trained in how the progression of species through time leads to a balanced mature forest and the dangers inherent in a mono-cultured plantation compared to the long term health and resilience of an interconnected real forest.

But folks are folks, including BC's forestry professionals. They have families to support, mortgages to pay and careers. In any organization, including the Ministry of Forests, a researcher knows exactly what results his or her supervisor wants - the results their superiors want to hear. And so on up the food chain it goes, until it reaches the top predator, in this case BC's Liberal government.

The results are clear from the Timber Supply Report, the Auditor General's Report of from the Association of BC Forest Professionals themselves - the BC Liberals have, in the last 11 years, run our once powerful forest industry into the ground. Why? Is it simply to cut costs so as to achieve an apparently balanced budget in the short term and pay for it by destroying the long term viability of our forests while at the same time cutting government revenues by lowering taxes on the corporations and their rich benefactors? Sure looks like it from here.