FESBC gets $25 million boost to reduce BC wildfire risk and improve forest health
To reduce wildfires in high-risk communities, the BC government is providing $25 million in new funding to the Forest Enhancement Society of BC (FESBC).
This investment will support community projects that reduce wildfire risk and improve wildlife habitat, greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, forest recreation, and ecological resilience. Applications for this funding will open on Monday, June 20, 2022.
“The FESBC is a proven partner in delivering on-the-ground projects that protect people from wildfire risk and reduce emissions from burning slash piles,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests. “Along with historic investments in Budget 2022 to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service and double funding for proactive wildfire prevention, this new funding for FESBC will help build stronger communities. safer and more resilient to climate change.
FESBC has supported 263 projects across British Columbia, and 43 of those projects have been in partnership with First Nations. These projects have reduced wildfire risk in 120 communities and created approximately 2,200 full-time equivalent jobs, among other results.
“Our government is working with First Nations and local communities to reduce the risk of wildfires so that we are better prepared for climate change,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy . “This investment is an important part of our upcoming Climate Preparedness and Adaptation Strategy to support more resilient communities, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide job opportunities for people. By increasing actions, such as cultural and prescribed burning, we are using powerful tools that can help reduce wildfire risk and improve ecosystem health.
“We are proud to have been able to work with partners to return our key territories to a healthy state, and we are excited to see a return to cultural turmoil on the horizon. This land has been our home since time immemorial, and seeing the land return to a healthy state is important to us,” said Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars.
Since 2017, FESBC has funded the use of 4.8 million cubic meters of wood fiber that would otherwise have been burned in slash piles or abandoned. The combined GHG benefits of FESBC’s fiber use, tree planting and fertilization projects are 5.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent sequestered or avoided, which has the same GHG than removing 1.1 million cars from the road for a year.
According to Philippe Thériault, General Manager, Entreprises Tsi Del Del, “Since the start of the differential transport program, we have delivered more than 450,000 cubic meters of pulpwood and biomass that would have been burned before. Undoubtedly, the help from FESBC has greatly reduced litter in the bush and kept over 80 of us directly employed during very difficult times. Great job, FESBC team!
“Many Indigenous communities, municipalities, regional districts, woodlots and community forests have taken action in recent years to protect their communities from wildfires,” said Steve Kozuki, CEO of FESBC. “They have reduced the risk of extreme wildfires near buildings, communications infrastructure, water supply, electricity, safe places and emergency escape routes. This funding will enable more communities to do this important work.
As part of the CleanBC Roadmap to 2030, the province will strive to virtually eliminate slash pile burning by 2030 and increasingly divert materials from slash piles to the development of bioproducts. This will reduce air pollution and GHG emissions, while creating new economic opportunities.
The $25 million provided to FESBC is part of $359 million announced in Budget 2022 to protect British Columbians from wildfires, including $145 million to strengthen the BC Wildfire Service and Emergency Management BC. This is the largest investment in the history of the Wildfire Service and helps transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service, moving from its reactive mode to a more proactive approach. This will allow the BC Wildfire Service to focus on the four pillars of wildfire management: prevention and mitigation; preparation; answer; and recovery.
“The FESBC funding allows us to maximize our ability to supply a by-product typically left behind, increase overall fiber recovery and create long-term carbon benefits by harnessing new values from traditional logging outside the supply of sawn fibre. A $10 investment generates an additional $12 of private money, and $1 million generates about $10 million of private investment. This gives us a good transition to break into the local biomass and pulp industry,” said Percy Guichon, Director, Central Chilcotin Rehabilitation Ltd.
Learn more: Forest Enhancement Society of BC: www.fesbc.ca/