B.C. parks hurt by budget cuts and poor enforcement

'The auditor general’s findings are entirely consistent with what our members have been saying for years.' - Byron Goerz, BCGEU.

Vancouver (25 Aug. 2010) - Environmental monitoring and enforcement are badly lacking in British Columbia parks, says a report by B.C. Auditor General John Doyle.

“Despite its declared intentions and clear vision to conserve the ecological integrity in British Columbia’s parks and protected areas, the ministry of environment is not successfully meeting this goal,” Doyle says in the 23-page document.Among recommendations it contains, the report calls for the ministry to fill in the current gaps in the parks system, to better manage conservation efforts, and to conduct better annual planning at each of the province’s estimated 1,000 parks to address specific objectives and threats.The audit also found that officials need to better protect B.C.’s ecology from threats such as the public, invasive species and nearby logging and land development, especially in 'Class A' protected areas.Fewer than half of all Class A parks and only one quarter of all ecological reserves have a management directive or plan, the report found. Of the managements plans that do exist, many are outdated, it adds..The deficiencies reported are associated with budget cuts, partial or complete office closures and severe staffing cuts between 2001 and 2004.Since then, the situation has gotten worse, with repeated small budget cuts to the parks system. Between 2008 and 2010, the cuts totalled $7 million and the March 2010 service plan for the ministry of environment suggests that government has no intention expanding budgets before 2013.“Sadly, these findings are not news to our members who work in B.C. parks as conservation officers, scientific technical officers, or as parks personnel,” says Byron Goerz, technical and operational component chair for the British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE).“Environmental workers are the public’s 'eyes and ears' on the ground in B.C. parks. They are committed to their jobs and the duty of protecting our wilderness but simply lack real capacity to fulfill their mandate. The auditor general’s findings are entirely consistent with what our members have been saying for years," Goerz says.“As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of B.C. Parks next year, the government needs to listen to the auditor general and do more to protect our parks and natural reserves. This is about so much more than defending public sector jobs, this is about conservation and environmental responsibility."NUPGEThe National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

More information:Download Report: Conservation of Ecological Integrity in B.C. Parks and Protected Areas

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