Less than 3% are currently protected. That is way below the bare minimum we need if we want to conserve our wildlife and wilderness values for the future. New Brunswick is second to last of all provinces in Canada in the amount of land we’ve protected. It’s nowhere near enough!
CPAWS asked that at least 17% of New Brunswick’s Crown land, including the largest patches of old forest, be designated as permanently protected areas by 2015, where no logging or mining can happen. We also asked the province to immediately take action to keep all of the Crown land they are already conserving as old forests, wildlife habitat and riverbank buffers. The New Brunswick goverment has now released its plan for Crown lands, covering the next 10 years, and has chosen not to accept our recommendations.
|Barred Owl, photo by Steve Reid|
The previous government’s plan for public forest use and conservation would have drastically decrease the amount of forest that is required to be conserved as deer wintering habitat, old forests and stream bank buffer zones.
This would mean a reduction of 25% of these habitats. At the same time, tree plantations on Crown land would be more than doubled to 28%. Tree plantations are NOT the same as old growth mixed forests, and take away habitat vital for the survival of native wildlife such as barred owls, flying squirrels and American marten.
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 New Brunswickers showed that the overwhelming majority place highest priority on protecting our forests to conserve fresh water, air and wildlife habitat. In other words, our citizens expect government to stand up for what the people want, and to conserve what remains of our natural forests.
The survey also showed that people want more say in how our forests are managed. Government has still not implemented any real consultation strategy to involve the public in determining our forests’ future.
CPAWS is recommending that at least 17% of Crown land (8.5% of the province), including the largest patches of old forest, be designated by 2015 in permanent protected areas, where no logging or mining would take place. This amount will move us closer to the level in other provinces, where the average amount of land protected is nearly 9%.
CPAWS is also recommending the province keep all of the Crown land they are already conserving as old forests, wildlife habitat and riverbank buffers. What we have now is below the bare minimum required to conserve all the wildlife that need old forests, so any reduction is unacceptable.
If we take these steps, New Brunswick will be well on the way to doing our fair share to protect wilderness areas and wildlife, and the significant tourism and ecotourism jobs that go with them.
The provincial government announced its new plan in March 2012. While it is a better plan than was previously announced, there are still serious problems with it. Protected areas will be increased from 4% to 8% of Crown land, less than half of what we asked for. Conservation areas will be decreased. For our response to this plan, please read our press statement.