Until the end of the month, we are marking national forest week Canada-wide.
The name may not ring a bell, that’s because it used to be called forest fire prevention week which dates back to the 1920’s. at that time the greatest threat to forests came from fires, mainly human caused. The week was renamed in 1967 and has evolved to encompass the many and varied human and environmental aspects of the resource.
While much may have changed over the years, it is still pretty much a given that humans are still the forests worst enemy… Then enters climate change.
This province suffered through what is considered to be the driest summer weather ever recorded by a significant margin. Areas that normally measure precipitation in triple digits saw this summer’s rainfall measured in single digits.
Since 2010 the Forest Practices Board has issued reports on wildfire dangers and have made a number of recommendations to reduce the risk. The board says while they would like to be able to report significant progress has been made- they instead note, that just isn’t the case. Meanwhile, the cost to fight fires has climbed significantly. but since 2015 the amount of money spent on prevention has dropped from $60 million to $20 million over just a few years.
Many communities have wildfire protection plans, but the board points out it doesn’t make any difference if the plan isn’t implemented. Funding for mitigation must be on-going. Property owners also need to take the necessary precautions.
The board says their reports and recommendations are there for all to review. They say the provincial government needs to stop wasting time with more reviews and evaluations of what went wrong. This fire season has been the worst since 2012 and it isn’t over yet and they remind politicians the next fire season is just six months away. It’s time for action now not dithering.