New Brunswick’s contribution to environmental leadership

In a recent commentary by the Forest Products Association President and CEO David Lindsay, he stated that the Canadian forest products industry has become a world leader in environmental credentials. Statistics show that Canada “now has 43% of the world’s independently certified forests or more than 160 million hectares, which is four times more than any other country.” What does that mean? It means that our companies follow progressive social and environmental forest management practices as assessed by an independent third body.  This includes prompt regeneration of the forest land, sustainable harvest levels, protection of biodiversity and wildlife habitat.   New Brunswick contributes three million hectares of sustainably managed Crown forest to the national total under the internationally recognized Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certification scheme. Industrial freehold lands further contribute to this total through a mix of SFI and Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certifications as well. Of our province’s total forested land base of six million hectares, less than 2% is harvested annually and all of this is regenerated naturally or through planting renewals. In fact, over 28 million tree seedlings were planted in 2012-13 on Crown land forests alone.


Canada’s forestry regulations and laws are among the most stringent in the world. By law, all harvested trees are regrown, ensuring the forest resource will be there for future generations. Canada has virtually zero deforestation or just 0.02% a year. How does New Brunswick compare? Agriculture, oil and gas and urban development are the main sources of deforestation according to the federal Department of Natural Resources 2014 annual report on the State of Canada’s Forests. The New Brunswick forest sector works to minimize the impact of deforestation by maintaining current forested land base under its management and in fact will increase available wood supply through silviculture activities.


Nationally, FPAC has led the collaborative effort to work with environmental and conservation groups to better address issues of habitat protection and species diversity. Provincially, for example, we can point to some positive progresses while acknowledging the ongoing efforts to address valid concerns. If we look at fish and wildlife management as an example we’ve seen increases in big game harvest in the 2012-2013 season over the previous year. Deer, moose and bear harvest has increased year over year, suggesting healthy populations, but there are areas of concern regarding other species of fauna and flora that find themselves in varying degrees of risk. Forestry operations respect the regulations that address habitat protection, for these species at risk, through special wildlife management zones and watercourse and wetland buffers. To make progress in meeting the multiple demands we place on our forest we need to collaborate with stakeholders and communicate clear and factual information to the public.


Canada’s forest products industry has the best environmental reputation in the world, and New Brunswick plays no small part in contributing to Canada’s recognition as a leader in sustainable forestry management. The forest industry in New Brunswick takes seriously its responsibility to manage the public’s needs, which include economic prosperity, responsible renewal of our forests and consideration for the non-timber uses of our forests such as recreation, habitat protection and cultural needs. We have come a long way in both practices and approach, and for that we should be proud as New Brunswickers of our place in the world as leading sustainable forest managers.