Public Lands Coalition StatementThursday, November 01, 2007
MORATORIUM ON LOGGING TIMBER ALLOCATED TO CLOSED MILLS NEEDED NOW IN NEW BRUNSWICK
The Public Lands Coalition, a collection of affected community groups, conservation groups, woodlot owners, and mill workers calls on the government to place a moratorium on the cutting of timber allocated from Crown land to closed mills until a wiser plan is put in place. The Public Lands Coalition calls for an end to the current practice of allowing raw timber exports and timber transfers among mills as it is detrimental to the forest and forest-dependent communities in our province.
A record breaking volume of timber is being cut from our public forest in New Brunswick. During 2006-2007, timber harvested from public land reached a record high at 5.4 million cubic metres - an increase of over 500,000 cubic metres from the 2005-2006 period. This is occurring despite a staggering number of mill closures, leaving scores of people unemployed and communities devastated by the loss of their primary industry.
In the midst of a wave of mill closures across the province, the government of New Brunswick is catering to the large forestry industry and ignoring the fate of the affected communities by allowing timber allocated to their local mills to continue to be cut and shipped away to provide cheap fibre to mills elsewhere in the province or to foreign markets.
For example, the government made an exemption to Section 68 of the Crown Lands and Forest Act to allow the export of raw logs from the province for Weyerhaueser. In June 2007, Weyerhaueser announced that they would not be reopening their mill in Miramichi, throwing 140 people out of work. Since then, trucks of raw timber have been allowed to leave Weyerhaeuser's licence area for destinations outside the province where the jobs have also moved to process the timber.
The government announced in late August a one-time fee to be paid to communities that have experienced a mill closure as part of a community economic development fund. The fee will come from the seller of the timber allocation in the amount of $10 per cubic metre of timber transferred. This one-time fund is a small fraction of the annual wages and income generated in communities from an operating mill. The timber transfer scheme is set to expire in December 2007. Disappearing fast are jobs and local income generated from operating mills as well as the forest that could have been used for greater benefit of the community.
Through a series of transfers between J.D. Irving and Fraser Papers, the government has allowed J.D. Irving to harvest wood from Fraser's licence in Juniper. Through this deal, J.D. Irving gets more timber, Fraser's pulp mill is getting cheaper chips and the community of Juniper is left out in the cold. The Committee Against Transfers of Crown Allocations rejects this deal and demands a halt to the timber transfer.
People in Kedgwick are also very concerned about the status of their jobs at the now J.D. Irving-owned mill in their community. Will the wood be processed in Kedgwick or trucked elsewhere?
Forty-two percent of the mills' timber, softwood and hardwood, comes from public land (4,512,290 cubic metres), according to 2005-2006 data. Only seventeen percent comes from private woodlots. The percentage of timber from woodlots feeding mills has not been this low since 1974. While clearcutting in the public forest is increasing, timber from private woodlots feeding mills in this province is decreasing. Since 2003-2004, private timber is being displaced at a rate of one million cubic metres.
Government policies focused on growing low-value fibre and public investments in a faltering pulp and paper industry is responsible for a continued decline in the number of jobs per volume of wood harvested. According to data from Natural Resources Canada, New Brunswick employs the fewest number of people per unit of wood harvested in all of Canada. The number of people employed per unit of wood harvested has steadily decreased for decades. The smaller and medium-sized mills are actually employing more people per unit of wood harvested than the larger mills owned by the companies extracting timber from our Crown lands.
A logging moratorium on timber allocated to closed mills on public land. A moratorium is essential to stop further damage to our forest and forest-dependent communities from the current plan of logging on Crown land, raw timber exports and timber transfers among mills.
A public participation process. A moratorium would allow a public participation process to decide what should happen to unallocated timber in the event of a mill closure.
Tying timber allocations to communities. Public hearings held around the province in 2003 resulted in recommendations for the public forest including the implementation of mechanisms to retain local employment in the event of a mill closure.
Equitable Market Access for private woodlot owners. The Department of Natural Resources is encouraged to ensure fair and equitable market access for private woodlot owners to the mills in this province. The Crown Lands and Forests Act states that the Minister shall encourage the management of private forest lands as the primary source of timber for wood processing facilities in the province consistent with the principles of proportional supply and sustained yield (Sections 3(2) and 29(7.1)).
Tenure reform to provide for community-based management of the public forest. Government officials need to change the paradigm of control of the province's public forest so that local communities are able to manage local forests for the long-term benefit of their communities.
Respect for the public values of our forest. A source of fresh water, a place of diverse ecosystems and habitat, a critical part in the fight against climate change and meaningful employment are some of the public values of our forest. Our government, as a trustee of the public forest, must first and foremost incorporate public values associated with our forest in future forest management plans.
This statement is endorsed by the following organizations:
Campaign for Pesticide Reduction - Quispamsis, New Brunswick
Civic Fidelity Inc.
Committee Against Transfers of Crown Allocations
Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada Local 113 - Kedgwick Mill
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
Falls Brook Centre
Good Life Gathering
Kedgwick Chamber of Commerce
Les Intendants du Madawaska
New Brunswick Federation of Labour
New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners
Organic Crop Improvement Association - New Brunswick Chapter
PANE, for a new perspective on energy
Public for the Protection of the Forests of New Brunswick
SOS Eau Water Sankwan
Tantramar Environmental Alliance
Tobique Aboriginal Forest Watch