New Crown Forest Agreement Strips Control from Government

(Fredericton) – The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, New Brunswick Chapter (CPAWS NB) is expressing serious concerns about the details in the just released Forest Management Agreement government  signed with J.D. Irving Ltd in the summer.

This agreement sets out binding terms that reach at least 35 years into the future. CPAWS NB is especially concerned with the parts of the agreement where it appears the forestry company will have control over what rules and standards they will have to meet on Crown land over the next several decades. This is on top of problems related to the reductions in conservation of old forests and wildlife habitats, which wildlife ecologists say will seriously compromise our ability to conserve forest wildlife.

Roberta Clowater, Executive Director of CPAWS NB says, “We sincerely hope the provincial government will make significant changes to this agreement and the plans that go with it. It appears that the forestry company will have veto power over any changes that government might want to make to the rules that companies have to follow. This removes the power of government to manage the public resources in a responsible way.”

Under the Forest Management Agreement, for example, if government wanted to add new conservation measures in the future, based upon climate impacts, or a large fire, or new scientific understanding of what is needed to conserve forests or wildlife, they would have to have the company’s approval. The agreement also sets in stone the current uses of the Crown forest, preventing any new economic uses in the future.

“CPAWS NB is appreciative of government taking this first step in transparency by releasing the agreement. The provincial government has committed to reviewing the plan and opening up a dialogue with First Nations, wildlife researchers, conservation organizations and private woodlot owners to get on a sustainable track. We look forward to working with them to accomplish a better outcome. We believe the public will be outraged to learn how much control of Crown land decision-making this legal agreement gives up to the forestry company. We also hope that the government will put a halt to signing any similar Forest Management Agreements with other companies, so potential legal issues are not compounded,” says Clowater.


Video: Watch the interview of Roberta Clowater on CBC NB evening news.