Biodiversité menacée : une gestion responsable de la forêt doit inclure la protection de la diversité forestière

La forêt acadienne du Nouveau-Brunswick est un endroit d'une diversité étonnante. Les coupes à blanc dans les habitats fauniques et dans les zones de protection de l'eau non seulement menacent la survie de notre faune, mais réduisent aussi d'une façon dramatique le marché des propriétaires de lots boisés et menacent la survie des entreprises forestières familiales. L'auteure Tracy Glynn affirme que seulement 15 % les terres forestières publiques du Nouveau-Brunswick sont protégées des coupes à blanc.

Glynn fait la promotion des coupes sélectives comme méthode de récolte plus acceptable que les coupes à blanc parce qu'ainsi les habitats et l'eau sont protégés. Néanmoins, l'industrie forestière voudrait pouvoir augmenter les coupes à blanc dans les habitats fauniques et dans les zones de conservation parce qu'on y trouve du bois plus mature et que c'est la façon la plus rentable de faire des profits rapides.

Glynn espère que, lorsque le gouvernement dévoilera sa nouvelle politique de gestion forestière cette année, elle contiendra des mesures pour sauver non seulement l'industrie forestière, mais aussi la forêt.


Biodiversity at Risk: Responsible forest management must include protecting forest diversity

Tracy Glynn
Conservation Council of New Brunswick
May 2008

tretching across the Maritimes into the Northeastern U.S. and parts of Quebec, the Acadian forest is a remarkable diverse ecosystem of 32 tree species. The forest was historically composed of long-lived tree species that grew for 200 to 400 years in forest stands that contained a mixture of hardwoods and softwoods.

Three hundred years of European settlement and industrialization in New Brunswick have drastically altered the Acadian forest. Large tracts of forest have been cleared for farming and forestry activities. Species composition has changed towards a forest with shorter-lived and shade-intolerant species such as poplar, white birch, and white spruce.1


Fall on Mount Carleton, NB.
(Photo: Tracy Glynn)

Traditionally, forest management has been based, almost entirely, on economic profit.2 Societal pressures have resulted in the addition of numerous values; hunted wildlife, job creation, water quality, recreation, aesthetics, protected areas, and biodiversity are all aspects of today's forest management.

Of the 30% of New Brunswick's public land that is designated as forest conservation area, only 4% is protected area where no logging is permitted. The remaining 26% of conservation area does not allow clearcutting but is open to other forms of logging like partial cutting. After you account for watercourse buffers and areas that are too steep to log, clearcutting is actually only excluded from 15% of the public forest which is designed to conserve wildlife habitat and biodiversity.

Areas important for wildlife habitat and biodiversity will be decimated if industry-driven recommendations of reducing forest conservation areas from 30% to 20% are implemented. The best science available suggests these areas actually need to be larger to be effective in conserving biodiversity. As a signatory to the U.N. Convention on Biodiversity, Canada is obligated to curb biodiversity loss by 2010.

Clearcut in Goshen forest, Elgin, NB.
(Photo: Tracy Glynn)

Clearcutting animal habitat and water protection zones does not only maintain the plunder of our public forest, creating an even more precarious environment for the survival of our threatened and vulnerable species like the Canadian Lynx, various songbirds, and forest orchids, but it also dramatically shrinks the market for New Brunswick's private woodlot owners, putting family forests out of business.

Selection logging is a more acceptable harvesting method than clearcutting and, if done right, can ensure that habitats and freshwater are protected. But, the industry wants more clearcutting in wildlife habitat and conservation areas because this is where the last big wood is found and it is the cheapest way to make quick profits. The area of old forest would plummet again under such a concession when it only exists on 5% of the entire Acadian forest land base.3 The forest must also be left alone to regrow naturally. In 2005, the World Wildlife Fund classified the Acadian forest as one of North America's most endangered forests.

Alternative licensing structures such as community forestry arrangements are a growing trend in other places such as British Colombia. Working alternatives rooted in what is best for forest-dependent communities would also prioritize restoration and conservation, and support for more diverse timber and non-timber products because of the inclusion of diverse interests in the community.

Snag with squirrel.

A 2008 provincial survey on public views on forest management4  found that environmental values of watershed and habitat protection gathered stronger support than industrial harvesting of forests. A majority of New Brunswickers who responded to the survey felt that industry has too much control over forest management in the province. Survey respondents ranked the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, a long-time advocate of the restoration and conservation of the Acadian forest, in the top three of organizations that best reflect survey participants' views.

The government of New Brunswick is set to unveil a new forest management policy this year after consultation on a set of different forest management scenarios to be presented to the public. It is hoped that the government finally recognizes that the Acadian forest is rapidly being lost and that something has to be done to save not only the forestry industry, but also the forest. Every government that has come to power in New Brunswick in the last decade has proclaimed that our forest is one of the best-managed forests in the world. But, as indicated in the recently released provincial survey, New Brunswickers hold a different opinion. These are the opinions of woodlot owners and workers, conservationists, hunters and anglers, and urban and rural dwellers alike, who are witnessing the degradation of the forest happening before their eyes and want a management regime that protects what is special and natural in New Brunswick.

[1] Lorimer, 1997; Loo & Ives, 2003; Mosseler et al., 2003; Dewolfe et al., 2005
[2] Greater Fundy Ecosystem Research Group, 2005, "Forest Management Guidelines to Protect Natural Diversity in the Greater Fundy Ecosystem"
[3] Mosseler et al., 2005
[4] Commissioned by the N.B. Department of Natural Resources and carried out by researchers with local universities and the Canadian Forestry Service.