New study shows the need to order a halt to forest degradation caused by clearcutting older forests

FREDERICTON – Findings of severe biodiversity loss in New Brunswick’s forests were published today in the online journal Nature Ecology & Evolution by an international collaboration of scientists led by New Brunswicker Matthew Betts, currently a professor of forest ecology at Oregon State University.

The scientists looked at the degree to which forest degradation – the reduction or loss of biological complexity – in the form of clearcutting and then thinning or replanting single tree species affected bird habitat and long-term trends in bird populations.

“The scientists’ findings should be a call to action for Natural Resources Minister Mike Holland to order a halt to forest degradation caused by clearcutting older forests and then thinning the regrowth or replanting single tree species,” said Green Party leader David Coon.

Species experiencing the greatest decreases in habitat were the golden-crowned kinglet and Blackburnian warbler, with seven species in all showing habitat declines of greater than 25%.

Habitat loss was strongly linked to long-term bird population declines, particularly for species living in old forest. The researchers estimate that between 33 and 104 million birds were lost due to forest degradation over the 35 years of the study. 

“The Standing Committee on Climate Change and Environmental Stewardship recommended in its first report to the Legislature that Minister Holland replace these forest damaging practices with ecologically appropriate logging practices,” said Coon. “He is a member of that committee and has a responsibility to act on its recommendations which he supported.”

The full study is available here: