08 APRIL 2014
The Green Party has learned that the Alward government's forest strategy is based on a radical deregulation of forestry on Crown lands, leaving industry to regulate itself. For example, the new strategy will eliminate the existing standard to preserve the Acadian Forest, and permit an increase in the size of clearcuts, while cutting oversight, jobs and $10 million from the Department of Natural Resources' annual budget. This changes are in addition to the reduction in conservation forest from 31% to 23% that had previously been made public.
The Tories' forest strategy is being implemented through contracts signed with the four corporations licensed to cut on Crown land. The first contract has been signed with J.D. Irving .
"The Alward government has no mandate to hand the keys to the Crown land over the big forestry corporations," said Green Party Leader David Coon. "I requested a copy of the contract with J.D. Irving under the Right to Information Act two weeks ago, so New Brunswickers and the First Nations can see what the Tories have signed away, and what it is going to cost us to get it back," said Coon.
The Green Party wants industrial licenses converted into a system of community licenses and a public process established to determine resource use and conservation priorities for Crown land.
The now defunct Acadian forest standard prohibited clearcutting in any remaining patches of Acadian forest. Eliminating this rule will increase clearcutting by 10%. Meanwhile the size of clearcuts will increase to 250 acres (from 75 ha to 100 ha). The new forest strategy will also permit logging of steep slopes , in wet terrain and around some wetlands, where lower royalties will be charged to entice companies to work in these more costly areas.
"The Tories' forest strategy is illegitimate. The Green Party will work to have it replaced with a sensible plan that is consistent with the values of New Brunswickers," said Coon.