New Brunswick needs new laws to protect its Crown-owned forests, according to a group of environmental, industry wildlife and scientific groups.
Lois Corbett, the executive director of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, said it was key for the more than 30 groups to band together to demonstrate the importance of updating the Crown Lands and Forests Act, which was passed in 1982.
“What’s really significant here is the broad range of people who are coming together and saying, ‘This act doesn’t work for us anymore — it doesn’t work for the good of the province,'” Corbett said in a statement.
“Our forests are very special to New Brunswickers, so when this many people and different types of experts are saying something is broken, it is time to fix it.”
The Conservation Council was joined at a news conference by Nature NB, the New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners, the New Brunswick Salmon Council, the Canadian Parks and Wildnerness society and the New Brunswick Wildlife Federation.
The groups are calling for six broad reforms, which would state clear principles on forest management issues, clarify the government’s role as a “trustee” for the forests and add transparency to setting forestry goals and objectives.
The groups also pointed to Auditor General Kim MacPherson’s June report that criticized how the Department of Natural Resources was overseeing laws that dealt with silviculture and private wood supply.
The auditor general’s report said the department has a bias towards economic development and industry in managing the Crown forest, had weak oversight of private wood supply and was not complying with the Crown Lands and Forests Act.
Roberta Clowater, the executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, said New Brunswick trails all provinces except Prince Edward Island, when it comes to protecting public forests.
“New legislation should create new rules that allow us to conserve resilient forests and native biodiversity in light of climate change and support a wider range of forest-based businesses,” Clowater said.