25 JULY 2013
The Green Party of New Brunswick is calling on the Alward government to create a New Brunswick Forest Service to take over responsibility for managing Crown lands from corporate license-holders, and to award those licenses to communities instead.
"When a local sawmill such as Miramichi Lumber Products is being forced to shut down because it is blocked from getting the wood it needs from the local Crown lands, you know the current system has become corrupted," said David Coon, leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick.
"We want to see David Alward take operational control of the Crown lands back from the corporations and manage them for the public good, with decision-making authority given to local communities," said Coon.
Decisions about which companies get how much of what kind of wood from Crown lands are currently made in Fredericton behind closed doors. The five corporate license holders are able to exercise considerable operatioal control over the wood that is supposed to flow to local sawmills.
The Green Party wants these decisions to be made in public at the community level, where local communities would have the authority to control the use of local forest resources within their license. Royalties earned on the wood cut, over and above the costs of management by the new Forest Service, would remain in the community. These changes would have to be made in consultation with First Nations.
"Crown lands must be publicly controlled, since they are supposed to be held in trust to serve the common good," said Green Party leader David Coon. "The privatization experiment begun in 1982 is an abject failure and must be abandoned," he said.