SAINT JOHN (GNB) – A review into the province’s forest management strategy calls for an increase of 150,000 hectares to Crown land conservation areas over five years.

This action is one of several items included in the Department of Energy and Resource Development’s review of the previous forest management strategy.

“We have carefully considered the trade issues our province faces in undertaking this review, and I am pleased that our government has fulfilled its commitment to improve the forestry strategy for Crown land,” said Energy and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet. “Responsible and sustainable development of natural resources is a key element of our economic growth plan. These changes will help ensure our industries remain viable while protecting and improving the conservation elements of the previous plan.”

The government review of the 2014 forest management strategy was completed after dialogue with dozens of groups and individuals which included environmentalists, industry representatives, private woodlot owners and biologists. The review is available online.

Five themes were identified as needing improvement:

  • Long-term conservation of forest biodiversity.
  • Respecting the rights and developing the interests of First Nations.
  • Creating a vibrant and competitive forest sector.
  • Growing a healthy and productive forest.
  • Maintaining transparency and accountability for Crown forest management.

The government expects several changes to the strategy will address concerns raised by the United States government during negotiations to restore New Brunswick’s exemption from softwood lumber tariffs, and further changes will be considered, if necessary, to help resolve the trade dispute.

“We are working hard to achieve the best possible outcome to our negotiations with the United States on softwood lumber tariffs,” said Treasury Board President Roger Melanson, who is also minister responsible for trade policy. “The changes to our forest management strategy announced today are important to these talks and put us in an even better position.”

“I thank all those who met with the department, which ultimately led to developing our action items,” said Doucet. “This industry is a vital component of our economy, with more than 24,000 people earning their livelihood thanks to forestry. We need to ensure it is sustainable.”