Private woodlot owners say they're key to protecting Crown forest
Group says they have extra wood forestry companies want, but can't compete with cheap public timber
But those companies only want the cheapest wood with the fewest strings attached and the government seems willing to oblige using the public's timber, said Ken Hardie, of the New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners.
“I think to a degree there is a certain level of just total frustration and disgust the way things have gone," he told CBC News on Wednesday.
The new policy, announced last month, increases the amount of softwood that industrial forest operations, such as J.D. Irving Limited, can cut on Crown land by 21 per cent.
We have that wood available, if they wish to do some business with us. They wouldn't have to do what they intend to do.- Ken Hardie, New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners
“We have that wood available, if they wish to do some business with us. They wouldn't have to do what they intend to do," said Hardie.
About 30 per cent of the province's forests belong to smaller, independent owners.
But Hardie says they can't compete with the cheap price of Crown wood, which will mean less demand for their wood.
Phil Foreman, who inherited about 200 acres from his father, agrees.
Greater access to Crown land by big industry means they aren't willing to pay enough for his wood to make it worth harvesting, he said.
"By the time you hire a trucker and a contractor, and they take what they need to make a living on, and we still get this lower price, that was at least I'd say $100, $1,000 less than when I inherited this in 1997, so it's not worth it."
Foreman had hoped selling trees off his land would boost his retirement income. "But that hasn't happened and I don't think it's going to happen," he said.
Although Crown wood belongs to all citizens, Foreman contends it's only benefiting a few.
Green Party Leader David Coon says the province's new strategy will eliminate restrictions on cutting Acadian forests areas, relax clearcutting rules and lessen government oversight of industrial operations, based on leaked briefing notes from the Department of Natural Resources.
But the documents show an additional 22 per cent of the extra wood, or 142,000 cubic metres a year, will come through elimination of the Acadian forest standard that mandated only selection cutting in those areas.
The documents also indicate the maximum size of clearcuts will be increased to 100 hectares from the previous maximum of 75 hectares. The requirements to leave forest patches in clearcuts will be reduced by 10 per cent.
Coon is also concerned about a move to results-based management, which lessens oversight of industry operations on Crown land by Department of Natural Resources officials.
Natural Resources Minister Paul Robichaud says details about the plan will be made public in a few weeks, or months.
Meanwhile, Coon is seeking a copy of the Crown land contract the government signed with J.D. Irving through the provinces Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The government has another two weeks to respond to his request.