Approximately 90% of logging in Canada today occurs in virgin forest, according to Peter Lee, a scientist with Global Forest Watch.
In New Brunswick, clearcutting is destroying our native mixedwood forest known as the Acadian forest.
Clearcutting reduces this diverse forest of many species of all different ages – to a simple forest of one age, with fewer species. Species that require shaded conditions to become established (the main species of our Acadian forest) have to wait decades, if not centuries, before a new Acadian forest can be established.
Economically valuable species of the Acadian forest, such as Red Spruce, Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, and White Pine are replaced after clearcutting with the pioneer species that are less economically valuable, like Poplar, White Birch, and Balsam Fir.
Seventy percent of the harvesting conducted every year is done using clearcut harvesting methods. A little less than two percent of our forest is harvested each year (New
Brunswick Forest Products Association). At this rate it will take just over 50 years to harvest all the forest in New Brunswick once.
Where has New Brunswick’s mature forest gone?
New Brunswick’s current management system is designed to harvest all of our oldest, mature stands as soon as possible, often to replace the natural forest with tree plantations.
The “oldest first” management system is based on the misconception that old forests are composed of trees that will all fall down at once when they reach maturity, and therefore should be harvested before or at maturity, in order to recover the volume. The reality for most stands of Acadian Forest is that they are composed naturally of a mix of tree ages: from seedlings and saplings, mature trees to dead trees. All stages of trees play an integral role in the forest ecosystem.
Our present “oldest first” management system is setting back our Acadian Forest for generations, simplifying our forest, reducing our future options, and depleting the natural heritage we owe our children.
We are systematically destroying the last of New Brunswick’s old growth and mature Acadian Forest. In 1970, seventy percent of New Brunswick’s Crown land was considered mature – dominant trees over 80 years in age. Today, 45 percent of our Crown land is mature.
Over the next 20 years, this amount will decline to twelve percent according to current Crown policy.
Silvicultural discipline to maintain Acadian forest resilience. 2007. Salonius, P.O. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry 24: 91-97.