June 18, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - A comprehensive plan to conserve the province's biological diversity was released today by Natural Resources Minister Wally Stiles.
The New Brunswick Biodiversity Strategy will be a road map to achieving our twin biodiversity goals: conservation of the genetic, species and ecosystem diversity of New Brunswick; and the sustainable use and development of New Brunswick's biological resources," said Stiles. "With this plan we will be able to use our biological resources in such a way that we live off nature's interest without depleting its capital."
Stiles said that the strategy will ensure that biodiversity will be considered in government decision-making that affects biological resources, and that government will encourage and facilitate others to do the same.
"We'll be able to better assess and understand the implications of land uses and development," he said. "And we'll do this guided by the principle that where there is the potential for serious or irreversible harm to biodiversity goals, we will work to identify preventive or corrective actions.
"Now is the time to protect biodiversity, while New Brunswick's native plants, animals and ecosystems remain generally healthy. Here in New Brunswick we are still relatively rich in biodiversity as a result of good stewardship, resilient ecosystems and a low human population, so this is the opportune time to be conservation-minded as we work together to achieve self-sufficiency, and tackle challenges such as climate change."
Environment Minister Roland Haché said that Environment supports the principles of the biodiversity strategy.
"At the Department of Environment, we have integrated biodiversity principles into our programs and policies to ensure that New Brunswick is a leader in responsible stewardship as we move toward our self-sufficient future."
Stiles said that achieving self-sufficiency by the year 2026 will involve increased industrial productivity and competitiveness, increased investment, the development of new markets, the diversification of resource-based industries, the establishment of an energy hub, and an increased population.
"Self-sufficiency will greatly benefit the people of New Brunswick, but it also increases the challenges we face in maintaining biodiversity," said Stiles. "Given the increased risk to biodiversity posed by development, and the relatively good position we still find ourselves in today, the time is right for a biodiversity strategy that will work here, in New Brunswick."
Stiles also said that government intends to lead by example when it comes to conserving biodiversity.
"With the adoption of this strategy, our government will ensure that Crown lands, water and biological resources are used and managed in a sustainable manner to achieve our biodiversity goals," he said. "While we recognize that the stewardship of private lands and their biological resources is principally the responsibility of the owners and users of those lands, our government will work with private landowners to encourage and facilitate good stewardship through existing and new collaborative efforts."
The strategy was developed by staff from the departments of Natural Resources, Environment, Agriculture and Aquaculture, Local Government and Transportation. A draft version was circulated last year to more than 55 stakeholders for review and input. Those stakeholders were invited to today's release of the strategy.
"Our government very much appreciates the contribution stakeholders have made to the final version of the strategy, and wants to continue to work with them on the development of action-specific plans related to it," said Stiles. "We believe that the best way to develop these action plans is with the involvement of stakeholders, using the biodiversity strategy as a clear vision of where we want to go, and as a framework for getting there."
Stiles said that a Biodiversity Secretariat has been established within the Department of Natural Resources to provide advisory, logistical, planning and reporting support related to the strategy. It will also facilitate communication and awareness-building among stakeholders and residents.
"It will be important for all New Brunswickers to be engaged and be conservation-minded in the activities they undertake and the decisions they make," he said. "In this way, we can all do our part to conserve the biological diversity of our province."
MEDIA CONTACT: Geneviève Mallet-Chiasson, communications, Department of Natural Resources, 506-453-2614, e-mail: email@example.com.