June 17, 2022, B.C. — To reduce wildfires in higher-risk communities, the B.C. 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 enhance wildlife habitat, greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction, forest recreation and ecological resiliency. Applications for this funding will open on Monday, June 20.
“The Forest Enhancement Society of BC is a proven partner in delivering projects on the ground that protect people from wildfire risks and reduce emissions from slash pile burning,” said Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, in a press statement. “Along with the 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 communities that are safer and more resilient to climate change.”
FESBC has supported 263 projects throughout B.C., and 43 of these projects have been in partnership with First Nations. These projects have reduced wildfire risk in 120 communities and have created about 2,200 full-time-equivalent jobs, among other outcomes, reported the B.C. government.
Since 2017, FESBC has funded the use of 4.8 million cubic metres of wood fibre that otherwise would have been burned in slash piles or abandoned. The combined GHG benefits of FESBC fibre use, tree planting and fertilization projects is 5.3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent sequestered or avoided, which has the same GHG benefit as taking 1.1 million cars off the road for a year.
“Many Indigenous communities, municipalities, regional districts, woodlots and community forests have taken action in the last few years to protect their communities from wildfire,” said Steve Kozuki, executive director, FESBC, in a news release. “They reduced the risk of extreme wildfire near buildings, communications infrastructure, water supply, power, safe place, 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 work toward near elimination of slash-pile burning by 2030 and will increasingly divert materials away from slash piles and into bioproduct development. This will reduce air pollution and GHG emissions, while creating new economic opportunities.
The $25 million provided to FESBC is a component 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 is helping to transform the BC Wildfire Service into a year-round service, shifting from its reactive mode to a more proactive approach. This will enable the BC Wildfire Service to focus on all four pillars of wildfire management: prevention and mitigation; preparedness; response; and recovery.
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