FREDERICTON, N.B. – A forestry management strategy released yesterday will encourage investment, maintain thousands of jobs, create hundreds of new jobs and manage Crown forests in a sustainable way.
Putting our Resources to Work, a Strategy for Crown Lands Forest Management is expected to lead to the harvesting of an additional 660,000 cubic metres of softwood on Crown land, creating more than an additional 500 permanent private-sector jobs and 1,200 construction jobs as mills modernize.
"This strategy will put boots in the woods by providing clarity and a framework for businesses and workers to plan their future and the future of the forestry sector," said Premier David Alward. "A strong forestry sector is critical to our economic success. It is time to start growing our forestry sector again. I am proud that we are putting one of the most valuable resources we have, our Crown fibre, to work."
More than 22,000 people rely directly or indirectly on forestry in the province. The industry is worth more than $1.45 billion annually.
"We are at a crossroads in New Brunswick,” said Natural Resources Minister Paul Robichaud. “Since 2004, the number of mills operating in New Brunswick has been reduced by half, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs. Four of these were significant pulp mills that provided a market anchor for sawmill byproducts and low-grade forest products.
“This strategy protects current jobs and creates new opportunities while ensuring a sustainable forest for generations to come. We are striking a balance that puts the New Brunswick forestry sector in a stronger position to thrive and compete globally.”
The new allocation under the strategy will bring the timber objective of the province to about 3.9 million cubic metres of spruce and fir from Crown lands.
Under an existing agreement with the provincial government, First Nations will receive an additional allocation. It allocates five per cent of timber harvested on Crown land to First Nations. The provincial government is providing funding for a co-ordinator to manage the Aboriginal commercial harvest.
The hardwood objective will remain at 1.8 million cubic metres.
The increased Crown fibre supply will be generated by harvesting more on existing harvest sites and in typically difficult areas to access; by increasing commercial thinning in older silviculture stands; and by rearranging habitat areas to increase the efficiency of harvesting.
Protected natural areas
Robichaud reaffirmed the commitment of the provincial government to double the amount of land in permanently Protected Natural Areas. This will bring the total amount of land under Protected Natural Areas designation to 270,000 hectares (667,000 acres).
New Brunswick also has several significant provincial and national parks that provide 65,000 hectares (160,000 acres) of protected lands and wilderness. The new Protected Natural Areas will be announced within weeks.
"New Brunswick can perform among the best jurisdictions in the world in terms of benefiting from our natural forest resource, and we can do so by managing a sustainable forest for the long term," Robichaud said.
He noted the provincial government and industry will increase scientific research to ensure that harvesting practices are conducted in a sustainable manner.
Robichaud announced that the provincial government will adopt a "results-based framework" with Crown licensees. This approach will ensure licensees continue to follow best practices in their operations while being held more accountable for achieving specified outcomes from their harvest and management activities.
The provincial government will define clear forest-wide goals that are in line with the environmental, social and economic principles of its strategy. Licensees will be held accountable for achieving those goals through suitable and applicable consequences.
The approach has the potential to save the provincial government several millions of dollars annually.
"Licence holders must be accountable for the management of our forests," said Robichaud. "We will implement a system that ensures management activities are appropriate, sustainable and transparent to keep our forests healthy and our industries viable."
The provincial government will begin working immediately with licensees to develop and implement a more cost-effective and transparent management approach on Crown lands.