Canadian governments unite to avoid future forest fire disasters

October 04, 2005

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.
For more information, media may contact:

Canada - Natural Resources Canada (613) 992-4447
Ontario - Ministry of Natural Resources (705) 945-6735
Quebec - Ministry of Natural Resources and Wildlife (418) 627-8609
Nova Scotia - Department of Natural Resources (902) 424-5239
New Brunswick - Department of Natural Resources (506) 453-2614
Manitoba - Department of Conservation (204) 945-0516
British Columbia - Ministry of Forests and Range (250) 387-8486
Prince Edward Island - Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry (902) 368-5286
Saskatchewan - Saskatchewan Environment (306) 787-5796
Alberta - Sustainable Resource Development (780) 427-8636
Newfoundland and Labrador - Department of Natural Resources (709) 729-4715
Yukon - Department of Energy, Mines and Resources (867) 667-8065
Northwest Territories - Department of Environment and Natural Resources (867) 873-7379
Nunavut - Department of Environment (867) 975-7700

Natural Resources Canada

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