Help protect New Brunswick’s forests!

New Brunswick currently protects less than 4% of our forests from development and industrial activity. That is way below the bare minimum needed to conserve our wildlife and wilderness values for the future. New Brunswick is second to last of all provinces in Canada in the proportion of land we’ve protected. It’s nowhere near enough!

New Brunswick’s Acadian Forests dominate our landscape. Their long-lived, towering trees keep our rivers cool and filter their waters. They provide homes for iconic Canadian species, including Canada lynx, American marten, flying squirrels, moose, deer, and once even caribou. Warblers, barred owls, hazelnuts, and fiddleheads have thrived in the midst of these giants.

New Brunswick currently protects less than 4% of our forests from development and industrial activity. That is way below the bare minimum needed to conserve our wildlife and wilderness values for the future. New Brunswick is second to last of all provinces in Canada in the proportion of land we’ve protected. It’s nowhere near enough!

CPAWS had recommended that at least 17% of New Brunswick’s Crown land, including the largest patches of old forest, be designated by 2015 as permanently protected areas. We also asked the province to immediately take action to keep all of the Crown land they were conserving as old forests, wildlife habitat and riverbank buffers.

In 2014, the New Brunswick government released its 10-year plan for Crown lands, and chose not to accept our recommendations.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE CURRENT FORESTRY STRATEGY FOR CROWN LANDS

The provincial government created new Protected Natural Areas in 2014.  This brought New Brunswick’s proportion of protected land up to 4.7% of the province. The national average is 10%.

At the same time, government removed conservation from more than one-quarter of our public land they used to manage to conserve fish, wildlife habitat and our rivers. The forestry industry has access to these previously conserved habitats for increased logging and clear-cutting. Researchers are very concerned that it will be difficult to conserve viable populations of all our wildlife under this plan.   

Barred Owl, photo by Steve Reid

The strategy puts at risk our cold-water rivers and their wild Atlantic salmon populations.  Old forests in the headwaters of the Restigouche and Miramichi Rivers used to provide shady habitat, but now are open for increased clear-cutting.

At the same time, government will allow industry to double the amount of tree plantations, to occupy one-quarter of Crown forests. 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.

For our forests to be resilient to climate change, we need to conserve diversity and natural forests. The current strategy is reducing natural diversity in forests and along waterways. This increases the risk new or increased pests and diseases, droughts, floods and fires will degrade our forests.

New Brunswickers have rejected this before

The majority of the public told the Select Committee on Wood Supply in 2004 they do not want government to sacrifice fish and wildlife habitat to increase wood supply.  The Select Committee rejected industry’s request to put a cap on conservation zones, and instead recommended that government reduce the amount of clear-cutting.

A survey of New Brunswickers in 2014 found that a large majority place highest priority on protecting our forests to conserve fresh water, air and wildlife habitat. Our citizens expect government to stand up for core public values, and to conserve what remains of our natural forests.

The survey showed that people want more say in how government manages our forests.  Government has still not implemented any consultation strategy to involve the public in shaping our forests’ future.

WHAT IS CPAWS RECOMMENDING?

CPAWS is recommending that at least 20% of Crown land (10% of the province), including the largest patches of old forest, be designated by 2020 in permanent protected areas. These areas would prohibit logging and mining, and be open to outdoor recreation. This amount will move us closer to the level in other provinces – the national average is over 10%. There is no plan to increase our protected areas, so we need a new commitment.

CPAWS is recommending the province bring back conservation to the parts of Crown land they were 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.

If we take these steps, New Brunswick will be doing our fair share to protect wilderness areas and wildlife, and the significant tourism and ecotourism jobs that go with them. We will be protecting our forests to be resilient to climate change. This will conserve the richness of the forest, and help provide ecological services and resources we need (from river protection to timber).

HOW YOU CAN HELP

- Write an email or a letter to the Minister of Energy and Resource Development – we’ve created an easy link here.

- Write a letter to the editor to explain any concerns you have about the state of forest conservation in New Brunswick. Decision-makers read them!

- Join us on Facebook to help spread the word.