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Budget 2006 - The Right Choices : Momentum for Growth and Prosperity

March 30, 2006
(Natural Resources)
(Environment and Conservation)

The Right Choices: Sustaining Our Resources

The Williams government is taking a sustainable approach to the protection and development of the province�s natural resources, investing close to $60 million to safeguard this legacy for future generations, said Ed Byrne, Minister of Natural Resources, and Clyde Jackman, Minister of Environment and Conservation.

Government is making a considerable contribution to ensure that optimal benefits are achieved from our forests, emerging renewable and non-renewable energy sources and related industrial development.

"Government is demonstrating leadership in its approach to resource development and protection. We have tremendous renewable resources that through effective stewardship and focused public investment can benefit many generations of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians," said Minister Byrne. "We have a long-term vision for our energy and associated industrial development that we will achieve by putting in place a strong policy agenda � one that values the resource base and develops it in a manner where the greatest number of our people can benefit."

Managing our Forestry
To preserve and sustain the vital resource base, Budget 2006 supports the following initiatives:

  • $800,000 to enable the Forestry Services Branch to establish an enhanced forest inventory data base upon which future forest management and conservation decisions can be more accurately determined;
  • An additional $1 million for the silviculture program, which will increase the total number of tree seedlings planted in our province from 11 million to 15 million. This investment enhances our forests and assists in reducing future wood harvesting costs through increased productivity, thus keeping our industry competitive;
  • Maintain the total resource road construction budget at $3.5 million. Forest resource roads are required in order to access tree stands in difficult areas and optimize the sustainable use of the resource;
  • An ongoing commitment of $800,000 for the Inland Fisheries Enforcement Program, which is proving to be effective in deterring and reducing the impact of poaching throughout the province; and,
  • $460,000 to support an expanded fire suppression program in Labrador. Forest protection is vital to the long-term sustainability of the resource. This funding will be used by the forestry service for additional aircraft fire suppression as the need arises during the height of the fire season.
  • Government is also renewing its commitment to contribute $300,000 to a program that sees the government, the lumber industry and the value-added wood products sector working together to identify and pursue new market opportunities. The four-year program is in its second year.

    Energy and Industrial Benefits
    In the area of energy and industrial benefits, Budget 2006 directs $4.2 million in funding to support the following initiatives:

  • A further $1.5 million to attract and retain professional staff and expertise in key management and technical skill areas to enable government to remain competitive with energy-based industries;
  • $1.4 million in support of key energy policy development initiatives. This will be used to complete and begin the implementation of the Provincial Energy Plan, engage world-class policy advice and professional services regarding current and emerging energy developments and to enable the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board to meet its growing regulatory commitments;
  • The continuation of $1.1 million in support for the Bull Arm Site Corporation. The Bull Arm site is a critical component of our overall industrial capacity and strategic ability to attract offshore fabrication and construction work to our province; and,
  • $150,000 for an energy efficiency public awareness program that is a joint initiative of the four Atlantic provinces, led by the Council of Atlantic Premiers.
  • Preserving and Conserving our Environment
    Resource management, conservation and a long-term plan to protect our resources are vital in securing and sustaining the province�s natural heritage. To that end, Budget 2006 provides $3.5 million to safeguard our natural resources.

    "Our province is known for its magnificence, the sense of connection we have to our environment and to each other, and its potential as one of the best natural heritage sites in the world," said Minister Jackman. "We recognize the need to protect our wildlife, green spaces, parks and wilderness areas and focus on sustaining our environment for generations to come. This budget goes far in helping achieve our environment and conservation priorities for the next fiscal year."

    More than $1.9 million has been committed this year to proceed with a two-year caribou monitoring program to manage the caribou herd. The initial year of the program will examine the eight south coast herds.

    Government will establish an advisory committee to help guide the development of a caribou strategy, as recommended by the Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitters� Association.

    Building on last year�s investment to establish the Centre for Environmental Excellence (CEE), Budget 2006 commits $500,000 to maintain the operational aspects of the project and to support preliminary research activities conducted as part of the ongoing CEE agenda.

    A further $1,084,000 has been allocated for the following conservation initiatives:

  • $500,000 to combat climate change and continue implementation of the Climate Change Action Plan, representing a $200,000 increase over the last fiscal year. This funding will help promote clean energy and encourage public and private sector groups alike to make this a priority;
  • Based on the long-term goal of protecting representative areas of the 19 eco-regions, $259,000 has been allocated to accelerate the completion of a proposed Natural Areas System Plan and help with the preliminary work associated with a public consultation process;
  • $175,000 to further government�s Blueprint commitment to create a Sustainable Development Act to guide future decisions by government to ensure sustainable development of our natural surroundings as a foundation for long-term economic growth and social well being. Public consultation on this important initiative will commence early in the new fiscal year;
  • $100,000 for an education and enforcement program on the use of pesticides, focusing particularly on toxicity, use, effectiveness and restrictions as we balance the need for pesticides against human health and the environment; and,
  • $50,000 is designated for the development of a contingency plan to manage the large quantities of waste generated during cleanup of oil spills that may occur along our coast. The waste generated by one spill maybe 10 to 30 times the volume of the original spill.
  • Media contact:
    Tracy Barron, Natural Resources, (709) 729-5282, 690-1703
    Tina Coffey, Environment and Conservation, (709) 729-5783, 728-8650

    2006 03 30                                  2:30 p.m.

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