Meeting with the Honourable Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests Lands Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD)
BCWF President, Chuck Zuckerman, Wildlife and Allocations Committee Chair, Gerry Paille, and Director of Fish and Wildlife Restoration, Jesse Zeman met with Minister Conroy in October, 2021.
Their conversation focused on:
Dedicating all licence fees immediately
- The BCWF 2021 Wildlife Position Statements state: The management of B.C.’s wildlife and habitat continues to be one of the most poorly funded in North America. For the past decade, the proportion of the provincial budget spent on renewable resource management has been less than two percent. The result is diminishing fish and wildlife populations, including some at risk of extinction. Hunting license sales, excluding GST and Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) surcharges, averaged $11.4M annually between 2017-2019. BCWF asks the Province of British Columbia to dedicate all fees collected for hunting, including but not limited to: hunting licence fees, species licence fees, limited entry hunting fees, and royalty fees for wildlife and trapping as funding for wildlife management in British Columbia that can be counted on now and in the future. The delegates at the BCWF’s 2021 Annual General Meeting supported a resolution to approach government to double the HCTF surcharges — this request has been forwarded through the Provincial Hunting and Trapping Advisory Team. Any other fees, or portion of those fees, collected for activities that impact wildlife or their habitats on crown land should be dedicated to wildlife and habitat management.
- The BCWF, along with the Fish, Wildlife and Habitat Coalition and hundreds of thousands of members and supporters, are compelling the provincial government to recognize that the conservation (management, restoration and protection) of habitat across B.C. is fundamental to the needs of fish and wildlife and to ensure that all native species have abundant and self-sustaining populations. Fish, wildlife and habitat cannot rely on annual allocation from the Treasury Board; therefore, the government must create a permanent endowment for fish, wildlife and habitat stewardship. In addition, the BCWF believes that any commercial or industrial activity that benefits from the use of fish and wildlife, or impacts their habitats, must be required to financially contribute to fish, wildlife and habitat management.
- The ministry has committed to reviewing and making recommendations for dedicated funding and potential new creative funding models in 2021. Actions 12 and 13, Together for Wildlife Strategy, FLNRORD
On-the-ground actions, objectives, timelines for Together For Wildlife/MWAC (Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council)
- Moving forward with concrete timelines, actions and objectives with a focus on meaningful on-the-ground actions.
- Legislative reform is needed. In 2021, the government has committed to complete a comprehensive review of land designations under the Land Act, Wildlife Act, Oil and Gas Activities Act, and Forest and Range Practices Act that contributes to conservation to ensure they effectively target the intended habitats now and in the future, and in light of climate change impacts and habitat alterations. The review results will identify gaps and opportunities to improve the effectiveness of those designations for wildlife. A more detailed assessment for 10 percent of these designations will begin in 2022 (Action 10, Together for Wildlife Strategy, FLNRORD). The government will also review the Wildlife Act in 2021 and make recommendations to address priority issues, such as reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, determination of objectives, improved wildlife stewardship, effective and accessible service delivery, and dedicated funding (Action 12, Together for Wildlife Strategy, FLNRORD). The BCWF recommends: enshrining fish, wildlife and habitat protection into outcome-based legislation by reviewing and modernizing other existing related legislation to integrate the needs of fish, wildlife and habitat; giving wildlife and habitat equal status to other land-use legislation; creating clear, transparent and achievable legislated objectives for habitat and wildlife; dedicating funds focused on evidence-based landscape-level actions that treat causes and produce effects.
Proper consultation with stakeholders
- The Province of B.C. has committed to a public consultation on stewardship plans for priority species and populations through the Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council, and the Regional Wildlife Advisory Committees established or expanded upon in 2022 (regional). The B.C. Wildlife Federation does not currently have a representative on the council, which will advise the minister on new and existing provincial legislation for wildlife and habitat stewardship. The Minister’s Wildlife Advisory Council, including Indigenous members and Indigenous governments, will be encouraged to join Regional Advisory Committees as the Province’s government-to-government partners.
Policy statement and support for consumptive use
- The government needs to be more public in their support for hunting and fishing as an important source of food and connection to heritage for many people in British Columbia. Regional staff, when making management decisions, need to be cognizant that licensed hunters and anglers are often harvesting food for themselves and family.
Funding ecosystem restoration as part of wildfire mitigation – for example, the lack of prescribed burns in regions of B.C.
Setting regional objectives (HAs) for ecosystem restoration
- In addition to having objectives for the number of hectares, regional objectives for ecosystem restoration need to be focused on places where the impact will be most beneficial for fish and wildlife.
Restoration & post-fire management practices
Holding staff accountable
Changing the Professional Reliance Model
The BCWF supports the regulation of firms, and in particular, we support regulating resource extraction companies that employ professionals as firms. We believe that regulation of engineering, oil, gas, mining and forestry companies as firms is a high priority.
While we support the province’s commitments to address environmental assessment, wildlife habitat management, endangered species, land use planning, agricultural land and water sustainability, each of these reforms requires a comprehensive professional reliance framework to be successful. Without such a framework, these reforms will mostly fail.
The implementation of Bill 49 and the Professional Reliance Review recommendations are going to take several years. In the meantime, it is unclear how the management of B.C.’s natural resources will change on the ground and how long it will be for ‘current business practices’ to change in the field.
Provincial scientific integrity policies need to be developed that improve scientific transparency, minimize political interference in policy-making, and protect scientific professionals that speak out.