New Brunswick’s greatest resource is renewable. We have more than 6 million hectares of forest land. Our forests have sustained our communities for centuries and because of intelligent management our forests will continue to provide prosperity and a healthy environment for centuries to come.
Our vast and healthy forests provide for our very existence, energy and the many products we use in our daily lives from toilet paper to the roof over our family’s heads. More so, forestry has been the economic engine for our economy and our social fabric providing jobs to our men and women, sustaining our local communities and generating wealth to pay for our government services like healthcare and education.
It is true that forestry has seen the 7 worst years in its history. The global economic downturn and the slowing of our largest trading partner, the USA, have taken their toll. Half of our saw mills and half of our pulp mills have been lost to closures with devastating effect on communities like Miramichi and Dalhousie. However, we must remind ourselves that even after these most challenging of times, forestry remains a critical part of New Brunswick’s economy.
In fact, More than 20 000 families are supported by the forest sector. With more than 16,500 people directly working in forestry related jobs, our people produce 30% of total manufacturing output of the province and as such, not including oil and refineries, make forestry the largest manufacturing sector in the New Brunswick. The forest sector pays more than $1 billion in annual salaries to the men and women who are the back-bone of the industry and the heart of our communities.
Forestry also remains a significant contributor to the economy and the government. The saw mills and pulp mills paid $35.1 million in Crown Royalties to the province in 2010 and the forest manufacturing sector contributed an estimated $250 million dollars in direct taxes to the government coffers.
In addition to direct taxes, Statistic Canada stipulates that for each cubic meter of wood harvested on Crown lands, $41. 54 can be attributed to the overall economic impact of that activity. This impact can be better quantified in terms of direct salaries, equipment, and supplies. It is important to emphasize the forestry and forest products sector is primarily an export-based industry. This is critically important because it is bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in new wealth into New Brunswick generated by transforming a small part of our forests into economic value each year.
The good news for New Brunswick is our trees are a renewable resource and with careful and insightful planning we can, with reasonable accuracy, calculate and monitor the fibre supply and we can also choose to grow more trees for our growing economy. Here in New Brunswick we have centuries of experience as a forestry province. We have seen the benefit of a managed sustainable forest harvest. We have taken and continue to take care to manage our greatest asset. We know we can grow the wood we need in the future. New Brunswick men and women have been planting trees on Crown land since 1962 and since then, we have planted 700 million trees. If you add to that the trees planted on private land and our industrial freeholds, we can proudly say, we have planted more than 1.2 billion trees. Growing more wood on Crown lands and private lands is the key to our future economic success. Ensuring there is a growing timber objective is at the heart of a new green jobs driven economy.
The global demand for sustainably managed and certified forest products is expected to significantly grow as economies recover. All future opportunities depend on the wood supply. New Brunswick will need more wood to meet this demand and allow us to benefit from this growing market. We will need to get our wood from Crown lands, private lands and even seek to import wood.
It is expected in the weeks and months to come, Premier David Alward and the Hon. Bruce Northrup, Minister of Natural Resources will release the forest management plans that will set the short and long term strategic direction. Good public policy is essential to the maintenance of existing investments and infrastructure as well as the attraction of new investment to New Brunswick.
If we want to create more economic wealth and create more green jobs, we need government policies and strategic directions that support a sustainable and growing forest sector. We encourage the Minister to ensure there is a growing wood supply timber objective on Crown lands. In turn, a vibrant and globally competitive forest sector will continue to support an array of social, environmental and economic values that will benefit New Brunswickers for generations to come.