Sept. 15, 2004
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The Select Committee on Wood Supply tabled its report today with the Clerk of the Legislature. The report contains 25 recommendations relating to wood supply in the Province and other matters pertaining to the management of New Brunswick's forests.
Following the impressive input received through a series of 13 public meetings, the committee deliberated over several months. "The public response to the hearings was tremendous, giving the committee members much to digest and consider," said committee chair Kirk MacDonald (MLA, Mactaquac).
The 12-member committee began its work in October 2003, examining the Crown forest management system and the many complex issues related to the current wood supply situation.
"Today, we are tabling a report with 25 recommendations. This is a continuation of the process that began with the Jaakko Poyry study examining the possibility of doubling the softwood supply of New Brunswick," MacDonald said.
While the committee does not endorse the Jaakko Pöyry strategy as a 'go forward' one, it instead recommends a more holistic approach - managing for a forest of greater diversity, thereby creating greater benefits for the people over the long term.
"The lack of support for the Jaakko Poyry recommendations should not be misconstrued as disregard for the forest sector and its economic importance," MacDonald said. "To the contrary, the committee's recommendations provide support for the survival and prosperity of the forest industry, and equally important, the future ecological health of the province."
Like Jaakko Pöyry, the committee recommends continued participation of the public through the adoption of a formal consultation process. It recommends the establishment of a Provincial Advisory Committee, giving representatives from various stakeholder groups an opportunity to routinely provide advice to the minister. As the task of implementing approved recommendations is seen as significant, both in scope and consequence, the committee further recommends that a co-ordinator be engaged to facilitate implementation.
The committee also recommends establishment of specific wood supply objectives, with a silviculture fund devoted to support the management needed to meet those objectives. These recommendations respond to two issues of considerable significance to the forest industry, and signify the committee's recognition that such commitments are essential to generate more stability and greater assurance about the Province's commitment to a vibrant forestry future.
As special advisor to the committee, Dr. Thom Erdle, of the University of New Brunswick said, "In my view, the committee effectively facilitated the long overdue discussion of New Brunswick forestry; and it did so fairly, fully, and openly. As evidenced in the committee's deliberations and in the breadth of its recommendations, none of the important issues raised in the hearings escaped the committee's attention."
Erdle believes the committee's recommendations to be balanced, thoughtful, and progressive, but he noted that the final judgement on their adequacy must be made by each party interested in New Brunswick's forests. Success of the committee's efforts to advance forestry in New Brunswick will depend upon the willingness of all parties to give close and careful thought to the report, to engage in constructive discussion of its contents, and to support a well-conceived plan for implementing its recommendations.
The committee's 25 recommendations fall into four categories:
- Governance and Accountability (nine recommendations);
- Forest Management Objectives (five recommendations);
- Allocation of the Resource and Distribution of Benefits (six recommendations); and
- Provincial wood supply (five recommendations).
Now that the committee's work has concluded, MacDonald acknowledged it is up to the government to decide on implementation. He is confident that the interests of the people will be well served as government considers these recommendations and makes its decisions.
"Decisions about forest management will not be taken lightly; their impact will affect our public resources for years to come," MacDonald said.
Copies of the report are available on the Legislative Assembly website at: http://www.gnb.ca/legis/index-e.asp, and from the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Box 6000, Fredericton, NB, E3B 5H1, Telephone: 506-453-2506, Fax: 506- 453-7154.
MEDIA CONTACT: Don Forestell, Legislative Assembly, 506-453-2506.