After recently adding nearly 300,000 hectares to Crown-protected natural areas, New Brunswick may soon have even more protected land.

Speaking to reporters after a two-day meeting of the Canadian Council of Forestry Minister in Saint Andrews, Natural Resources and Energy Development Minister Mike Holland said the province is looking at more conservation areas within the province, “ensuring we can create more Indigenous, protected and conserved areas.”

Protected areas have minimal human interaction in order to preserve the province’s biodiversity.

Announced in December 2022, the province doubled Crown-conserved natural areas in the province, bringing the total protected area to just under 10 per cent. 

Holland said it’s the equivalent of adding 19 national park-sized lands to the province’s conservation footprint, though New Brunswick is below the national average. Across Canada, 13.6 per cent of a province or territory’s land is protected or conserved.

Holland, though, says the conservation efforts are “amazing” considering New Brunswick’s “limited geographic scope.

“Compared to other provinces, we’re a postage stamp, but we’ve still been able to make those moves, making it a progressive part of our ongoing work plan,” he told reporters.

A group of New Brunswick-based conservation groups have called on the province to commit to ambitious conservation targets, and “step into its leadership role” on biodiversity, sustainable logging practices and climate change.

“This needs to be done through one integrated, ecologically-based management strategy for the forests of New Brunswick, with transparent consultation and engagement of Indigenous people and the public,” reads a joint statement from the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-New Brunswick Chapter, Nature Trust of New Brunswick, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, and Nature NB.

The conservation groups called for “significant reduction in clear-cuts, elimination of glyphosate-based herbicides in forests, legislated targets for increasing selective cutting, new protected areas to safeguard wildlife habitat, and provision of more fairness and opportunity for private woodlot owners and Indigenous communities.”

These steps “would go a long way toward addressing the failures of New Brunswick’s current, old-fashioned and big industry-favored approach to Crown forest management.”

Holland said Indigenous leaders were involved in discussions during the two-day meeting, but the topic of glyphosate was not discussed.

“Indigenous relationships, and the work we need to do with First Nations was woven throughout the context of our meetings throughout the days,” Holland said.

Roberta Clowater, executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-New Brunswick Chapter, said the province is on the right track with its conservation efforts. She took part in some of the discussions at the two-day meeting, and said conversations were “really productive.

“They did a good job of getting the kinds of discussions on the table,” she said, “and now we need to keep it going, get it to an action point.”

By Marlo Glass, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 16, 2023 at 05:55

This item reprinted with permission from   Telegraph-Journal   Saint John, New Brunswick
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