Who owns New Brunswick’s “Crown Land”?
Half of New Brunswick’s forests are on “Crown lands”, encompassing 3.4 million hectares. The Supreme Court of Canada holds that New Brunswick’s Crown lands are held by the Province of New Brunswick for the benefit of the people of New Brunswick, not as their owner but as their trustee. The “public trust doctrine” handed down to us through English Common Law says the resources of the commons are “gifts of nature’s bounty” to benefit present and future generations.
The provincial government has jurisdiction over the management of forest resources on Crown land subject to Aboriginal and treaty rights. As the Crown lands of New Brunswick were never ceded by a treaty to the Crown, as was required under British law, First Nations have Aboriginal title.
As trustee of our forest commons, the Crown lands, the provincial government is obliged to maintain their inherent value for all people, including those not yet born. Where the government fails in its trusteeship, citizens have a right to defend this public trust.
Who manages Crown Lands?
The right to manage these publicly-held forests has been transferred to mostly multinational companies: J.D. Irving Ltd.; Fornebu Lumber Company; Twin Rivers (formerly Fraser Papers); and AV Group (AV Nackawic/AV Cell).
The public forest is divided into six regions for management. The licenses over these six regions involve a 25 year forest management agreement. Each licensee has an assigned amount of sub-licensees operating on the leased land. Management plans on public lands are done every five years.
For the first time in 200 years, there is no mill operating in the Miramichi. According to the Department of Natural Resources, the Miramichi wood basket is divided as such: Fornebu has access to 175,000 cubic metres, JD Irving Limited has 83,000, Miramichi Lumber Products Ltd has 87,000, Delco Forest Products has 73,000, and TAG Enterprises has 57,559, with 31,067 cubic metres of the former UPM allocation still available for allocation (Times & Transcript, June 21, 2010).
The Norwegian Umoe group purchased the assets of UPM-Kymmene in 2009 and acquired a portion of UPM’s Crown wood allocation. Fornebu took over as licence holder and manager for Licence # 3, which encompasses the entire public forest region in Northumberland County. Fornebu owns and operates a sawmill in Bathurst and is therefore entitled to harvest a portion of UPM’s one-time 506,000 cubic metre allocation. In May 2010, Umoe confirmed that they would not be going ahead with their solar project planned for Miramichi.
The Department of Natural Resources has set up a management team for the former Weyerhaueser license in Kent County. Montreal-based TAG Enterprises is said to be on the verge of taking over Weyerhaeuser’s now closed oriented strandboard mill. TAG has secured a total of 277,802 cubic metres of Crown wood off of Weyerhaeuser’s former allocation and part of the old UPM allocation. The province approvd allocating the final 61,619 to AV Cell.
Approximately 2.7 percent of wood harvested on public lands in the Miramichi region was exported last year, according to the Dept. of Natural Resources.
New Brunswickers have very little say in how these lands are managed or who gets access to their resources. Goals and objectives for the management of our Crown lands are established without any meaningful public consultation. Aboriginal and treaty rights to access forest resources, while recently affirmed by the courts, have yet to be truly respected, recognized and accommodated. Forest communities and the families who live there have no direct access to forest resources upon which to base their development and livelihoods.
Our solution to giving the people of New Brunswick a voice on Crown Lands
The Conservation Council of New Brunswick is promoting greater public and community involvement in the administration and management of Crown lands which would be compatible with honouring Aboriginal and treaty rights. In particular, we advocate a community-based approach to forest management.
Community forestry is based on the local control over, and enjoyment of the benefits from local forest resources. It is implemented in ways which maintain the integrity and health of forest ecosystems. It ensures traditional and local ecological knowledge can be applied to forest management, and that management is designed to meet the needs of local people and communities.
Learn more about community forestry here…
How much money do we earn from royalties for wood cut on our public land?
The New Brunswick government earned $43 million in royalties for wood harvested from the public forest in 2007/2008. Royalties paid for the timber cut from public land in 2006/07 was $55.6 million. For a breakdown of royalties paid per license, visit here.
Where else do the mills obtain wood?
Some companies own vast tracts of forest land in New Brunswick and elsewhere which supply wood to their mills. They also buy wood privately from woodlot owners and logging contractors but to a lesser degree today due to changes in the Crown Lands and Forests Act that do not favour the purchase of wood from woodlot owners.
What trees do the mills use?
95% of the softwood used by mills is either balsam fir, black, white or red spruce, or jack pine.
What other trees grow on our public land?
Eastern Hemlock, Eastern White Cedar, White Pine, Red Pine, Tamarack, Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, Beech, White, Black and Red Ash, Black Cherry, Red and Bur Oak, White Elm, Basswood, Ironwood, Black Willow, Butternut, Poplar, Red Maple, Sliver Maple, Service Berry, and White, Yellow and Grey Birch.
Where are jobs headed in the forestry industry?
Since 2007, approximately 2,000 mill jobs were lost in New Brunswick. Of the 61 mills left in New Brunswick in 2007, only 16 were operating at full capacity at the end of 2007.