The NBFPA Comments on Crown Land Forestry Strategy
In recent months several groups have dominated the conversation regarding the
government of New Brunswick’s proposed crown land forest management strategy.
Many of the province’s sawmills, pulp and paper producers and various other
manufacturers, as represented by the New Brunswick Forest Products Association,
have respectfully allowed the discourse to unfold but we feel it is now time to voice our
opinion and provide some balance and clarity to the debate.
The issue has been bantered about as a struggle between those preoccupied with
timber values on one side and those with strictly conservation values on the other. The
general public is left to try and sift through the facts which often seem jaded by extreme
and polarizing opinions.
The NBFPA and its industry members find merit in the proposed management strategy.
Why? Simply put it represents the best alternative for long term wood supply which will
strengthen the industry by spurring investment which improves productivity and our
globally competitive position. This will result in further demand for fibre which will benefit
private woodlot owners as mills seek to source more raw material to meet the demand
for competitively priced New Brunswick forest products.
Is the management strategy perfect? There are certainly compromises to be made
when trying to satisfy multiple objectives and this strategy reflects those compromises.
The management strategy closely represents one of eight alternative management
schemes proposed by the New Brunswick Task Force on Forest Diversity and Wood
Supply which included broad stakeholder consultation from notable conservation,
industry and academic representatives. The report commissioned in 2008 is entitled
“Management Alternatives for New Brunswick Public Forests” and is best known as the
Erdle report after the chair of the task force Dr. Thomas Erdle of the University of New
Brunswick. It provided for several management alternatives, each focusing to varying
degrees on seven different management aspects including wood supply, protected and
plantation areas and old forest preservation.
The management strategy alternative proposed by the current government could be
said to closely resemble one of the eight alternatives identified in the report, known as
alternative “E”. It will be argued that this particular alternative and the government’s
actual proposed plan is weighted more towards the timber value end of the spectrum
than the conservation end but it needs to be pointed out for clarity and balance of facts
that the proposed management approach only differs from the status quo in three
One: it does in fact decrease conservation areas from 30% to 23% when comparing the
current proposal to the status quo, meaning that previous harvesting restrictions will
now be removed on 7% of the area. Two: protected natural areas will increase by
100% meaning that areas completely off limits to harvesting will double in size. When
combined with other special management zones, fully one third of crown forest land is
subject to no or restricted harvesting and when taken into consideration with federal and
provincial parks and private reserves, it represents a significant amount of protected
and conserved forest throughout the province as a whole. Three: forest renewal areas
will increase 32% meaning that conservation areas will be safeguarded over the long
term by the production of a sustainable fibre source, available for an industry that
supports over 22,000 jobs and contributes over $2.2 billion dollars annually, directly
and indirectly, to the New Brunswick economy including $900,000,000 in direct payroll.
Much of this contribution is the economic lifeblood of small and medium enterprises in
our rural communities that support the greater forest industry.
Does the plan meet the full expectations of all stakeholders? No, but it is a workable
solution to addressing the economic, social and environmental issues facing the people
of New Brunswick today. The province has taken note of the 2008 Roberts report on
“Future Opportunities for the Forest Products Industry in New Brunswick” which
recommended the province adopt a long term view of forest products manufacturing as
an economic and environmentally sustainable growth industry. The Roberts report also
sounded a warning regarding any delay in the expansion of the commercial timber
forest, meaning managed stands; and that failure to address competitiveness issues
may result in missed opportunities for creation of wealth for New Brunswick. Finally the
report concludes that wood flow security is a real impediment to investment and that
any management strategy needs to address this issue.
It is the belief of the New Brunswick Forest Products Association that the proposed
crown land forest management strategy has acknowledged and addressed
appropriately the major recommendations developed through consultations with
stakeholders and experts. It is our understanding that the government of New
Brunswick has taken the compromises rooted in the Erdle report regarding
management alternatives, combined this with the economic and market realities
outlined in the Roberts report and manifested these into the proposed crown land forest
management strategy. It is time for opponents and proponents of the crown land forest
management strategy to accept the necessary compromises and ensure we seize our
opportunity to support rural communities and grow a more prosperous future.