After an area is clearcut, most forests in New Brunswick will naturally regenerate themselves with new trees. Typically it is the pioneer species that grow back on clearcuts. These species cannot grow in shaded conditions and can only get established in large openings that have lots of sunlight. These species are therefore called shade intolerant and include white birch, trembling aspen, pin cherry, and white spruce. These species are typically considered less economically valuable and desirable to the forest industry.
In many areas of our forest, clearcuts are sprayed to kill the intolerant hardwoods in order to make room for softwood plantations. This practice has further changed New Brunswick’s forest landscape, reducing the diversity of our Acadian forest.
There is an increased frequency of relatively young, often even-aged, early successional forest types (balsam fir, white spruce, red maple, white birch and trembling aspen) (Etheridge et al., 2005; Loo and Ives, 2003; Lorimer, 1977). One study indicates that as much as 50% of the Acadian forest, could, at one time, have been dominated by late-successional old-growth forest types. Today, only 1-5% of forest cover is dominated by forest older than 100 years (Mosseler et al., 2003).
Since 2001, herbicide spraying on the public forest of Quebec has been banned. Eight per cent of the Quebec’s wood supply comes from the public forest. Prior to the ban, public consultations in Quebec concluded that a majority of citizens opposed herbicide spraying of public land and preferred alternative vegetation control methods. In Nova Scotia, NewPage (formerly StoraEnso) has not used herbicides since 1998. They are one of the largest forest managers in that province.
In 2004, residents in New Brunswick presented a petition to Rose-May Poirier, MLA for Rogersville-Kouchibouguac. The petition, signed by 4,200 people, called on the government of New Brunswick to abolish herbicide spraying in stands regenerating adequately in commercial hardwoods, stop cutting in boundaries along rivers and streams (buffer zones) and to put laws into place that would allow New Brunswickers (communities, cooperatives) to manage and work on public land. The petition was tabled in the Legislature on June 25, 2004.
As more New Brunswick public forest is being doused with herbicides, more New Brunswickers are mobilizing against the practice.
On September 8, 2010, the Conservation Council produced a one-page fact sheet on what you need to know about what’s sprayed on our forest.
Canadian Water Quality Guidelines for the Protection of Aquatic Life – Glyphosate 2012 is now posted to CEQG online and CEQG Summary Table, along with the scientific supporting documents.
Trees Do Not a Forest Make by Everett Mosher for Eastern Woods & Water
Etheridge DA, MacLean DA, Wagner RG, Wilson JS. 2005. Changes in landscape composition and stand structure from 1945-2002 on an industrial forest in New Brunswick, Canada. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 35: 1965-1977.
Loo JA, Ives N. 2003. The Acadian forest: Historical condition and human impacts. The Forestry Chronicle, 79(3): 462-474.
Lorimer CG. 1977. The Presettlement Forest and Natural Disturbance Cycle of Northeastern Maine. Ecology, 58(1): 139-148.
Mosseler A, Lynds JA, Major JE. 2003. Old-growth forests of the Acadian Forest Region. Environmental Reviews. 11:47-77.