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Geoff Britt, a spokesman for J.D. Irving, said the petitions reflect the opinions of people who depend on the forest industry for their livelihood. ((CBC))

J.D. Irving Ltd. is defending a new lobbying campaign by the forest industry to halt a possible reduction in Crown land wood allocation, saying the petitions represent the opinions of forestry workers and their communities.

The province's biggest logging companies have helped organize a petition and letter drive with roughly 3,000 names.

The petitions and letters say hundreds of jobs are at stake if the provincial government reduces allowable cuts of some types of trees by 25 per cent.

Geoff Britt, a J.D. Irving Ltd. spokesperson, said the people who have signed their names to the petitions are entitled to voice their opinion to the provincial government.

"Why is it you have a different standard when it comes to the forest products industry about a petition, that all of a sudden it's diminished if it's the forest products industry?" Britt said.

The forest industry organized an information session for provincial politicians before the legislature adjourned for the summer.

At that session, the MLAs were presented with petitions advocating against a reduction in the Crown land wood allocation.

Progressive Conservative MLA Dorothy Shephard presented the petition inside the legislature.

The Department of Natural Resources has an important policy decision looming this summer when it sets its annual allowable cut, which is set every five years.

The decision is based on computer modelling and other projections of whether industrial cutting will leave enough wood for the province's forests to keep regenerating themselves.

Environmentalists say the quota has to be reduced because forest regeneration has been slower than expected.

David Coon, the executive director of the Conservation Council, said the proposed reduction is important because the province's forest companies have logged too much in previous years.

"They're going to reduce it because the Crown lands have been overcut. In retrospect they allowed way more cutting than they should have," Coon said.

Natural Resources Minister Bruce Northrup said on Wednesday that he put a "stop sign" on the release of the 2012-17 wood allocation plan after he took over the department.

Northrup said he's been talking with different groups, such as industry and First Nations, to better understand the implications of the next five-year plan.

"I value the opinions of people on this. We've been consulting with New Brunswickers since March on this five-year plan. There is a lot at stake both [from an] economic and conservation perspectives. That's why we're taking our time to hear from everyone," Northrup said.