Nov. 4, 2008
FREDERICTON (CNB) - A policy to support and strengthen the forest industry and the New Brunswick economy through the sustainable harvest and use of Crown forest biomass has been released by the provincial government. The initiative is known as the Crown Land Forest Biomass Harvesting Policy.
"The Department of Natural Resources has received numerous requests from the forest industry and bioenegry companies to harvest and use Crown forest biomass," said Donald Arseneault, minister of natural resources. "There is interest in using this material to help reduce energy costs, to explore new forest market opportunities and to support other economic development initiatives in New Brunswick."
Forest biomass, used in the creation of bioenergy, consists of the parts of a tree not traditionally used by the forest industry and includes twigs, branches and tops. The procedure for selecting the areas to be harvested is scientifically based, using the most current information available.
"Uncertainty in long-term supplies of fossil fuels, increasing energy costs and environmental concerns have renewed interest in using forest biomass to produce energy," said Arseneault. "This policy is a step forward in the province's bioenergy strategy and will help strengthen the competitiveness of New Brunswick's forest products industry."
The policy was developed in conjunction with the University of New Brunswick. It defines forest biomass; identifies a procedure to assess the impact of harvesting on sustainability and forest growth; and provides a set of guidelines in selecting eligible areas for biomass harvesting on Crown land.
Biomass harvesting is to be within the framework of sustainable forest management and not jeopardize goals, objectives and policies for Crown forests.
The Department of Natural Resources will soon ask individuals, corporations or other provincial bodies interested in gaining access to a portion of the available Crown biomass supply to respond to a request for proposals (RFP). Under the RFP process, applicants are to identify their interest, business plans and proposals for biomass material. While the details of the RFP are still being developed, it is anticipated that written submissions will be required by the end of January.
The government expects to evaluate the proposals and award biomass allocations by April.
The Department of Natural Resources manages the public forest in the best long-term interests of all New Brunswickers, balancing the needs and expectations of a broad base of stakeholders, including those with economic, environmental and recreational interests.
Crown forests in New Brunswick cover 3.3 million hectares, slightly more than half of the total forest land in the province.
MEDIA CONTACT: Sharon Jones, communications, Department of Natural Resources, 506-453-2614.