VICTORIA – An investigation into the state of fire management planning has found that fire management plans have been prepared in all forest districts in the province, and that they provide the basic information needed to help plan a response to a wildfire, according to a report released today.

“The plans prepared to date identify values at risk, such as dwellings, infrastructure, wildlife habitat and timber,” said board chair Al Gorley. “However, the initial plans are narrow and need to be improved to include local priorities for protecting values as well as areas where fire may be allowed to burn under certain conditions. It will be important to involve First Nations, local governments and the public in setting these priorities.”

The report makes seven recommendations aimed at improving fire management planning and response.

The report also recommends that government fully implement its 2010 Wildland Fire Management Strategy, which will move the province toward more proactive fire management.

“Globally, we see a trend toward more severe and costly fires,” said Gorley. “Other jurisdictions have found that simply adding more fire fighting capacity alone doesn’t solve the problem. We need proactive policies and programs that account for the inevitable occurrence of fire in the forest environment.”

The Forest Practices Board is B.C.’s independent watchdog for sound forest and range practices, reporting its findings and recommendations directly to the public and government. The board can investigate and report on current forestry and range issues and make recommendations for improvement to practices and legislation.