For Immediate Release
Victoria, B.C. – The provincial government has released a budget without enough funding for water, fish and wildlife management. The BCWF position is that it is unacceptable to underfund wildlife management and to cut spending on matters related to fish, wildlife and the environment when parts of the province are facing decreasing fish and wildlife numbers and impacts to habitat caused by a changing climate.
BC Wildlife Federation President Bill Bosch said the budget shows, “government fails to recognize that fish, wildlife and habitat need to be respected.” Bosch said the BCWF is “dismayed that the provincial government has failed to follow through on its election commitment to dedicate all hunting fees to fish and wildlife management and to give wildlife and habitat a priority.”
During the pre-budget hearings, the all-party Budget 2020 committee heard from BC Wildlife Federation representatives around the province. The BCWF asked for adequate funding for collaborative water, fish and wildlife management to address the impacts of climate change.
Vice-president Chuck Zuckerman told the budget committee that the 1.4 percent of the budget for the Ministry of Forests, and .4 percent for the Ministry of Environment, is “not sufficient to improve the viability of landscapes and watersheds that directly impact our way of life and the province’s motto of splendour without diminishment.”
BCWF Wildlife Committee Chair Gerry Paille noted stakeholders are increasingly being asked to pay for core government responsibilities, such as inventory, research, and recovery. For example, the BCWF and its clubs had to cover funding shortfalls to combat chronic wasting disease by raising money for freezers to collect samples. Paille said the BCWF position is, “wildlife management should have funding dedicated through an independent structure that would be able to leverage more funds.”
Neil Fletcher, BCWF Wetlands Manager, noted that climate change is having an increasingly negative impact on watersheds and wetlands. Fletcher is part of a group of provincial water leaders calling for the provincial government to establish an independent water security fund to support collaborative community initiatives to protect and restore wetlands and watersheds impacted by flooding, fire and drought.
The BCWF made four budget recommendations:
- Establish a governance and funding model for fish and wildlife.
- Embed objectives that are place-based, community-based and preserve the functioning of our landscapes and watersheds in the Forest and Range Practices Act.
- Expand the oversight of the Forest Practices Board to look at the cumulative effects of development.
- Set up a long-term funding mechanism to support collaborative water sustainability initiatives that address climate change.
BCWF President Bosch said the government should follow the Budget 2020 all-party committee recommendations to invest in the functioning and resilience of our watersheds and landscapes. “We must maintain the natural diversity of our environment to have healthy fish, wildlife and water in our future.”
For more information on the background of the 2020 Budget: 2020 Budget Backgrounder