A poll carried out for J.D. Irving Ltd. indicates New Brunswickers lean toward supporting the Alward government's new Crown forest policy.

In the Corporate Research Associates survey, people were asked to indicate their opinion of the new policy on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 indicating they were completely opposed and 10 representing compete support.

The sample of 400 adults, over the age of 18, provided an overall result of 5.7, indicating New Brunswickers are slightly more supportive than opposed to the deal.

The survey results are in stark contrast to a recent poll by University of New Brunswick forestry professor Tom Beckley. that study of 525 New Brunswickers found more than 60 per cent of New Brunswickers oppose the new forestry plan.

Beckley's survey also repeated two questions from a 2007 survey and the results were consistent in showing New Brunswickers want to be consulted about Crown forest policy.


J.D. Irving Ltd. and other Crown licence holders will have access to more softwood trees on Crown land under the new forest policy. (Jeff Bassett/The Canadian Press)

Under the terms of the new agreement, J.D. Irving Ltd. and other Crown licence holders will have access to more softwood trees on Crown land.

The policy increases the amount of softwood available to industry by 20 per cent. The policy also reduces the amount of forest that is off limits to industry to 23 per cent of the public forest, which is down from the previous standard of 28 per cent.

The Irving-commissioned poll by CRA also questioned whether people believe it is possible to protect the environment and create jobs at the same time.

The overall result for that question was a score of 7.4 on a 10-point agreement scale, with 1 representing complete disagreement and 10 representing complete support.

When asked whether the new strategy will protect the long-term sustainability of the forests in New Brunswick, opinion was almost equally divided with an overall response of 5.3 on a 10-point agreement scale.

A question asking whether the strategy is in the best long-term interest of New Brunswick provided a result of 5.4 on a 10-point agreement scale.

When asked about their confidence level that J.D. Irving would deliver on its commitments to invest $513 million in its mill operations and woodlands and create 1,200 construction jobs and 300 full-time jobs, the respondents indicated they were "somewhat confident" with an overall response of 5.9 on the 10-point agreement scale.

The survey results are considered accurate within +/- 4.9 per cent, 95 per cent of the time.

The study was carried out between May 12 and 19 using a random person-to-person telephone survey of a representative sample of 400 people from across the province.

Crown forest policy survey for J.D. Irving Ltd.