Protect forests to save jobs and wildlife
An open letter to Premier David Alward and Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup from New Brunswick scientists and conservationists.
Your government is making important decisions on the amount of land that will exist for wildlife, biodiversity, and clean water in New Brunswick.
Surveys have repeatedly confirmed that these are important issues to the people of New Brunswick. Notwithstanding, the previous government decided to decrease the amount of conservation forest, from 30 per cent down to 23 to 25 per cent. Almost half of the deer wintering areas were de-listed, even though many species benefit from this habitat. Protected areas will increase, but only to six to eight per cent and even then, the new protected areas were made from forest stands that were already partly-protected.
Overall, there is a net decrease in the amount of protected land. At the same time, government increased the amount of intensive forest practices. Plantations, for example, will go from 12 per cent now to 30 per cent of the public forest in the next 40 years. These are significant changes to public forest.
For the last 20 years, forest management planning in New Brunswick has been based on maintaining minimum amounts of wildlife habitat; these are the last bits of old and special forest that certain animals must have in order to live out their lives and raise their young. These amounts are well-advertised and published in government documents.
For example, wildlife that need old spruce fir forest may be able to tolerate the clearcutting, conversion, and plantations if there are enough untouched stands of 375ha with trees of a certain size and type.
We are concerned that the proposed forest policy and guaranteed timber supply objective can only result in a failure to meet even these minimum targets.
If true, this would call into question the claim that New Brunswick practices sustainable management of its resources – a requirement for any green certification for our products.
Accountability is often stated as a cornerstone of good governance. Because the decisions are being made now, we are asking for a transparent public accounting of whether defendable habitat targets are being retained for the benefit of wildlife, New Brunswickers, and long-term viability of our forest industry.
GRAHAM FORBES, PHD
Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management, UNB
MARC-ANDRE VILLARD, PHD
Département de biologie. Université de Moncton
ANTONY DIAMOND, PHD, Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management, UNB
Executive Director, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, NB Chapter
Registered Professional Forester
Executive Director, Conservation Council of New Brunswick
ROGER ROY, RPF, PHD
Faculté de foresterie, Université de Moncton – Edmundston