The ministry of environment saw cuts in the 2015-2016 provincial budget. Forest Services, responsible for managing provincial forest sustainability, will see an overall decrease in funding from $12,319,000 last year to $10,978,000 this year.
This includes $141,000 cut to forest programs and a $1.2 million cut to reforestation initiatives. Funding for insect and disease control will remain the same at just under $2.2 million.
Environment Minister Scott Moe said the $1.2 million decrease in reforestation is nothing to worry about, considering the government’s commitment to reforestation. “We’ve had a long standing commitment to reforest a certain amount of property in the province,” he said.
Companies sign forest management agreements and, over the last few years, reforestation responsibility has been slightly shifting from the government to the logging companies, said Moe.
However, Cathy Sproule of the NDP does not agree with the cuts to the environment.
“Everything seems to be down in environment. It isn’t even mentioned in this budget document, in the main documents. So clearly it is not a focus for this government and I think that’s very short sighted,” said Sproule.
Environmental advocate Joanne Havelock was also disappointed that the big budget announcement didn’t include much about the environment. “That’s disappointing because maintaining a good environment is really critical to our long term future,” said Havelock.
Moe offered assurances that the cuts this will not stop the province’s reforestation efforts as the province will maintain its traditional reforestation commitments.
The ultimate goal, said Moe, is to have logging companies and those doing logging operations to sign forest management agreements, making them ultimately responsible for reforesting the areas they log.
Sproule does not think this is enough effort by the government. “We need to boost our reforestation efforts and what I would like to see more of is an effort on reducing our carbon emissions. Obviously, we’re the highest per capita in Canada,” said Sproule.
Havelock was hoping for more investment in renewable energy for the province and more aid for the environment as a whole. “It just seems to be short-sighted to be improving roads when you’re not putting as much into the natural setting that we are really going to be relying on in the future,” said Havelock.