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Documents outline changes to forest ministry focus

The Forests and Range ministry is working on a transformation that critics say will put industry interests ahead of all other values.

The ministry's mission is now, “To provide superior service to resource stakeholders by supporting competitive business conditions and managing forest and range values,” according to a Feb. 1, 2010, document titled The Objectives & Tasks of Functional Change to Realize our Business Response.

Previously, the mission was “to protect, manage, and conserve forest and range values through a high performing organization.”

“To respond effectively to the changing business environment, the Ministry of Forests and Range needs to change the way it delivers key business functions,” says the 29-page document the ministry provided earlier this month to the Tyee. “This document provides Executive’s clear direction in that strategic context.”

The document includes lists of promises from the 2009 B.C. Liberal election platform and throne speeches, and offers an overview of ways the ministry is expected to refocus. “More detailed business plans and operational plans will be developed over time with engagement from all staff,” it says.

The ministry also developed a 16-page power point presentation, dated March, 2010, that describes the planned changes. The Kamloops Daily News reported earlier this week on the ministry's change in mission.

“The ministry is giving up the last vestiges of any focus on protecting other values of the forest other than commercial values,” said Jim Cooperman, president of the Shuswap Environmental Action Society.

The number of people working in the ministry is already depleted and these documents suggest the jobs of the ones who are left will be to do whatever the logging industry wants, he said.

“The forests are getting degraded out there,” he said. “Now the ministry is mostly supposed to focus on making sure companies can make money.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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