April 24, 2006

Newfoundland budget targets "The Right Choices" for sustainable development

The Newfoundland and Labrador budget, recently tabled by Premier Danny Williams, has adopted a sustainable approach to the protection and development of the province's natural resources. Environment and Conservation Minister Clyde Jackman and Natural Resources Minister Ed Byrne said the government will invest nearly $60 million to ensure that optimal benefits are derived from the province's forests and to promote emerging renewable and non-renewable energy sources and related industrial development.

Among the funding allocations are $800,000 to enable the provincial Forestry Services Branch to establish an enhanced forest inventory data base upon which future forest management and conservation decisions can be more accurately determined; and $150,000 for an energy efficiency public awareness program, a joint initiative by the four Atlantic provinces under the leadership of the Council of Atlantic Premiers.

The 2006 budget is also providing $3.5 million to safeguard the province's natural resources. More than $1.9 million has been committed this year to proceed with a two-year monitoring program to manage the caribou herd. The initial year of the program will examine the eight south coast herds. The government will also establish an advisory committee to help guide the development of a caribou strategy.

Building on last year's investment to establish the Centre for Environmental Excellence (CEE), the 2006 budget commits $500,000 to maintain the operational aspects of the project and to support preliminary research activities conducted as part of the Centre's continuing agenda. The budget has also allocated just over $1 million to other conservation initiatives such as:

*$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 both public and private sector groups to make this a priority.

*$259,000 to accelerate the completion of a proposed Natural Areas System Plan for the province's 19 ecoregions and to support the preliminary work associated with a public consultation process;

*$175,000 to further government's commitment to create a Sustainable Development Act to guide future decisions by government concerning development of the province's natural resources; public consultation on this initiative are expected to begin in the near future.

*$100,000 for an education and enforcement program on the use of pesticides, focusing particularly on toxicity, use, effectiveness and restrictions in order to balance the need for pesticides against protection of the environment and human health; and

$50,000 for the development of a contingency plan to manage the large quantities of waste generated during cleanup of oil spills that may occur along the Newfoundland and Labrador coast. The waste generated associated with a single spill can be as much as ten to 30 times the volume of the original spill.

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