Canadian governments unite to avoid future forest fire disasters


SASKATOON, October 4, 2005 -- Federal, Provincial and Territorial Forest Ministers have committed to working together to reduce future losses of life, property and critical forest lands to wildfires. The Canadian Council of Forest Ministers today unveiled the Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy Declaration (CWFS), agreeing to develop joint, cost shared, proposal driven initiatives which could represent significant investments over the next 10 years. The initiatives that would see comprehensive and innovative changes to the management of wildland fires in Canada.

The Declaration presents a shared vision and common principles that emphasize the use of risk management and hazard mitigation, enhancing public safety, forest protection, and the effective use of funds in managing fires. It emphasizes a strong, effective fire suppression organization, as well as prevention, preparedness and recovery activities, and recognizes the important role fire can play in rejuvenating our forests.

"In recent years we have seen more frequent and intense fires, and a rising number of homes, cottages, and businesses being built in or near highly flammable forests," said the Honourable David Forbes, Minister of Environment for Saskatchewan and Chair of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers. "Sooner or later, other major disasters like the devastating fires in British Columbia in 2003 will occur somewhere else in Canada."

"Wildfires have directly threatened more than 700,000 Canadians in more than 200 communities in the past decade, and therefore pose a serious threat to public safety," said the Honourable John McCallum, Minister of National Revenue and Acting Minister of Natural Resources. "Recent natural disasters have highlighted the benefits of being prepared and this Declaration provides the catalyst to reduce the threat to public safety, the destruction of property and the impact on jobs in the forest sector overall."

The Ministers agree that spending money in preparation and mitigation, will save countless dollars in suppression and disaster relief.

The Declaration recognizes that fire is an essential and vital ecological process that can sometimes threaten public safety. It proposes to work toward improved land planning and updated forest management practices, as well as increased investment in innovation, public education, and building capacity in local communities.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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