“The proof will be in the legislative change”: Corbett on latest changes to forestry management

“The proof will be in the legislative change.”

This was what the Conservation Council’s Executive Director, Lois Corbett, and Rick Doucett, President of the New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners, had to say about the province’s move to freeze the amount of wood big mills can take from Crown land while promising a greater share of the market for private woodlot owners.

“So, it is either going to be an empty gesture, lots of great talk, or it will be something that will be able to hold up in the legislative minutes and see actual proof,” Corbett said Thursday, Jan. 2, in an interview with CBC New Brunswick’s Terry Seguin.

Natural Resources Minister Mike Holland made the announcement on Thursday, Dec. 19, saying the goal is to not only help support local woodlot owners but also allow New Brunswick’s “forest to mature, which will create more value for New Brunswickers and the forest industry.”

Corbett called the announcement an “acknowledgement that climate change is happening,” because it shows the Higgs government is starting to recognise the role mature, healthy forests play in helping to protect communities and habitat from extreme weather and rising temperatures.

While Minster Holland held back from speaking about the percentage of market share that would be guaranteed to private woodlots, Doucett, president of the woodlot owners’ association, says he’d like to see it raised by 10 to 15 per cent.

Should the province want to see the full ecological benefit of their proposed changes, Corbett recommends that the provincial government double-down on conservation efforts and reduce clearcutting in Crown forest by the same percentage that the woodlot owners’ market share is increased.

“If it goes according to the minister’s wishes and some of his stakeholders and public interest groups like the conservation council’s wishes, it should be a good step for nature.”

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