Sunday, January 20, 2008

NB Woodlot Management

I wrote this letter to the premier, not just because I am an interested citizen, but as a woodlot owner. While I stressed provincial issues, I think there is a very important federal role in the whole issue - we do not tax raw log exports. If Harper really wanted to help us, then rather than giving Canadians $1 billion after-the-fact ($30 million for NB), he'd work to limit raw log exports. That would stop a foreign-owned company from coming to Canada and cutting (Crown) wood here because its own government has put stringent and enforced harvesting practises at home. It would stop foreign-owned multinational companies from taking grants, loans, write-downs, and other government subsidies out of the hands of Canadians and then leaving (with the capital) when government sources of funds dry up. It would put New Brunswickers and Canadians back to work and contribute to a more reasonable woodlot management plan.

For those interested in the issue of forestry management and private woodlots, I'd recommend checking out the New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners and The Conservation Council of New Brunswick.

28 Nov. 2007

Dear Premier Graham;

I am writing to you as a concerned private woodlot owner and as an economist. I am very worried about the management of our crown forests and the impact this is having upon private woodlot management and sustainability.

I find it deeply distressing, both as a private woodlot owner and as an economist, to see crown timber resources used to compete against private timber. Even more disturbing is the growing market power of timber buyers who are capitalizing on harvesting rights from crown land. The combination of a growing oligopsony in mills and competition from crown wood has severely hurt private woodlot owners.

Since early 2006 we saw mill closures resulting in the loss of 1.4 million m3 of milling capacity. In 2006-07, private woodlot harvest dropped to its lowest level in a decade – 1.3 million m3 – a drop of almost 524,000 m3 from last year. In the same period, Crown Land harvest increased to its highest level, 5.4 million m3 – an increase of about 882,000 m3. Thus, in a year where we saw mill capacity decrease by 1.4 million m3, we have witnessed a provincial net harvest increase of 358,000 m3, driven by increased Crown timber harvests. This is neither fair nor does it make economic sense. Indeed, when one recalls the lost mill capacity of this past year, one questions where all the extra harvest has even gone.

I feel it is important that your government, and all future governments, publicly recognize that all New Brunswickers, present and future, are co-owners of crown resources. As such, it is New Brunswickers that confer upon a government the right to manage these resources with public interest in mind. I remind you that since 1992, there has been a call upon the government to treat private wood as the primary source of wood fibre harvest with crown wood forming the residual supply. Moreover, the idea of equitable market access for private wood has been the policy of the Liberal Party of New Brunswick.

If your government is really interested in an agenda of self-sufficiency and sustainability, I strongly urge you to create a wood fibre market that has equitable access for both private and Crown Land wood fibre. I look forward to your government’s earliest response.


Dr. Rob Moir, Professor of Economics
NDP Candidate, Fundy Royal

CC: Jeannot Volpé (Leader of the Official Opposition), Roger Duguay (Leader of the New Brunswick NDP), Hon. Donald Arsenault (Minister of Natural Resources), Keith Ashfield (Natural Resource Critic), Hon. Roland Haché (Minister of the Environment), Wayne Steeves (Albert), Hon. Eugene McGinley (Grand Lake-Gagetown), Bev Harrison (Hampton-Kings), Bruce Northrup (Kings East), Hon. Wally Stiles (Petitcodiac), Hon. Mary Schryer (Quispamsis), Bruce Fitch (Riverview), Hon. Roly MacIntyre (Saint John East), Hon. Stuart Jamieson (Saint John Fundy), New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners, SNB Wood Co-op Ltd.

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