Public Forest Conservation Campaign – Fall 2011
The provincial government will be deciding this fall whether to go ahead with the previous government’s plan for public forest use and conservation. The plan that was on the table would decrease the amount of forest that is managed specifically to conserve deer wintering habitat, old forests and stream bank buffer zones.
Based upon what we have learned from the Department of Natural Resources, this could mean a reduction of as much as 25% (one quarter) of some of these habitats. At the same time, the amount of plantations on public land would be increased to 28% of Crown forest.
The new Minister of Natural Resources has announced he will re-examine the previous plan this fall, and will announce a new forest plan after December.
New Brunswickers have rejected this before
The majority of the public told the Select Committee on Wood Supply in 2004 that they do not want fish and wildlife habitat to be sacrificed to increase wood supply. The Select Committee rejected industry’s request to put a cap on conservation zones, and instead recommended that the amount of clear-cutting be reduced.
A 2007 survey of the New Brunswick public showed that the overwhelming majority of people surveyed place highest priority on the forest’s protection of fresh water, air and wildlife habitat (Public views on forest management in New Brunswick: Report from a provincial survey).
Both the Select Committee hearings and the survey of New Brunswickers showed that our citizens expect government to stand up for what the people want, and to work with the natural forest we have.
The public also expressed they want more say in how forests are managed. Government has still not implemented any real public consultation strategy to involve the public in the public’s forest.
Will the government listen this time? We think yes.
We believe there is a real opening for New Brunswickers to speak up on behalf of our forests once again. This is a new government, and the Minister said he wants to hear more from conservationists and First Nations.
Please write a letter that tells government what is important to you about our forest, and what you expect government to do.
Send your letter to: Bruce Northrup, Minister of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1, and a copy to your MLA. We can provide a list of MLAs if you are not sure.
Make a short version of your letter and send it as a letter to the editor to your local newspaper, or one of the daily newspapers.
If you are part of a community group or NGO that would like to invite one of us to speak to your group on this topic (to answer questions, provide more detail), please contact us, as below.
Prepared by Crown Lands Network steering committee (CCNB Action, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-NB Chapter, Meduxnekeag River Society, Nature NB, Public for the Protection of the Forests of NB), a caucus of the NB Environmental Network.