Axing the Forest Service: The Cuts Continue
Well it looks like they’re getting ready to wield the axe yet again at the Ministry of Forests, and that the latest victims will join a long list of their sisters and brothers whose jobs were to protect the public interest and ensure that our publicly owned forests were responsibly managed.
In its latest annual Service Plan report, the Ministry notes that jobs in compliance and enforcement will decline by more than a fifth or 63 full-time equivalent positions over the course of the coming fiscal year. Total C&E staffing will shrink from 292 FTEs to 229, a decline of 22 per cent.
The coming cuts make it harder and harder to sustain the belief that anything approaching a proactive, rigorous and effective approach to monitoring forest company activities on public lands can be maintained by our Forest Service. Or that the public will not be shortchanged in some significant way either through unreported and unnecessarily destructive logging methods, insufficiently reforested lands, unacceptably high levels of usable wood waste at logging sites, or stolen timber on which no stumpage fees have been paid.
This is all the more troubling when one considers that it was only five years ago that the Sierra Club of Canada’s BC Chapter released a study documenting the elimination of 800 Forest Service jobs during the first Liberal mandate. The 2004 report – Axing the Forest Service – noted that 40 per cent of the jobs to disappear in the Ministry of Forests fell into a broad category called “Scientific Technical Officers”, which took in most of the men and women working in compliance and enforcement.
As goes the public’s eyes and ears in the forests, so goes the health of our publicly owned forests.