New Brunswick

Conservation council wants to show clear-cut impact

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick has a new project to bring attention to the decades-old issue of clear-cutting.

Using maps to help New Brunswickers visualize

Tracy Glynn of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick wants to give New Brunswickers a clearer picture of clear cutting. (CBC)

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick has a new project to bring attention to the decades-old issue of clear-cutting.

The non-profit organization is using mapping technology to show the extent of deforestation in the Acadian forest — one of six endangered forests across North America.

Tracy Glynn, CCNB’s forest campaigner, said it seems as though New Brunswick is very green. But on closer inspection, there are obvious signs of clear-cutting. That is what the conservation council wants people to see, she said.

"What we tend to see on highways now are tree farms — one or two species for spruce or pine,"  said Glynn. "It’s not the diverse forest that we would [naturally] find."

The Acadian forest, which covers the majority of New Brunswick, hosts more than 32 native tree species.

Glynn said that clear-cut areas are not particularly visible for most of the public — whether they are driving down the highway or looking at the map. The council has assembled a big picture that shows the overall impact of clear-cutting.

"The maps show there's no large intact undisturbed natural forests left in the province of New Brunswick, outside of the three per cent-protected forests," Glynn said. "That's really disturbing."

Forest cover is key to regulating water temperature, maintaining water supply and protecting other plants and wildlife from the harmful effects of climate change, she said.

Video submissions welcome

People can also submit their own videos of what is happening in their communities.

Simon Mitchell, a forester who has been campaigning to have Crown policy reformed for over a decade, said that current regulations are insufficient to protect the forest.

"This is complete devastation. The ecological integrity has been significantly compromised," he said. "That has impacts on water, wildlife and everything else."

"In basic terms it's a simplified forest that is unable to respond to change in climate, which impacts water quality water quantity and aquatic habitats."

Mitchell also said that clear-cutting is an outdated mode of resource use that is not suitable, given modern ecosystem knowledge.

"When we're dealing with complex natural systems, a simple solution like clear-cutting is no longer acceptable."

In addition to clear-cutting, some residents also note that spraying herbicides is another outdated and harmful practice.

Guy Daigle's property borders a section in Dunfries that was clear-cut. He worries about the chemicals used on the newly planted trees.

"No warning, they just showed up with a whole bunch of tree farmers and started spraying the stuff around," Daigle said.

"I have my kids go up there every once in a while — go play with the dogs and all that. We weren’t told it was going to be dangerous after the spring or nothing."

The council is calling on the provincial government to look at better options for forest management. It hopes that through restoration, future generations might have something left of the Acadian forest.