Letters to the Editor

Monday, 27 February 2012

Balsam fir likely to disappear from New Brunswick's forest - Conservation Council

Forest management needs to seriously consider climate change

FREDERICTON- According to a new Canadian Council of Forest Ministers' report, balsam fir, New Brunswick's provincial tree, is likely to disappear from most of New Brunswick by the end of the century as a result of climate change. The report states: "Balsam fir is likely to disappear from Nova Scotia and most of New Brunswick, and shift north into northeastern Quebec and Labrador." Balsam fir, New Brunswick's preferred choice for Christmas trees, has historically fed the pulp and paper, and timber industries in this province.

"It's not too late for the provincial government to seriously address climate change in future forest management," said David Coon, CCNB Action's Executive Director. "If we are serious about adapting to the effects of climate change, then we need to choose forest diversity over plantations. We need to refocus our cutting plans and silviculture spending on creating a resilient and diverse forest. We are currently favouring the regrowth of spruce and fir by cutting other species or by planting softwoods and spraying the hardwoods that try to grow back. We must focus on restoring our forests' natural diversity to adapt to a future of climate change," said Coon.

According to CCNB Action, going with status quo forestry will further degrade out forest's diversity and weaken its ability to recover from disturbances like fires, pest outbreaks, winter thaws, droughts and floods that come with climate change.

"The Alward government will decide next month whether to adopt the previous government’s plan to intensify the production of spruce and fir in the public forest by permitting the clearcutting of wildlife habitat zones and more than doubling the amount of natural forest converted to plantations or shift gears and manage for diversity and resilience in our public forest," said Tracy Glynn, CCNB's Forest Campaigner.

Forests play an important role in carbon capture and storage. Researchers have concluded that old forests continue to store and accumulate carbon at a much greater rate than had previously been thought, a fact yet to be considered in forest management plans.