Missing report on the state of N.B. forests 'appalling,' says Green Party leader
In January, the Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development said it would release an updated report on the state of New Brunswick's forests on April 1. That deadline came and went — with no report in sight.
Green Party Leader David Coon said he's been waiting for an update on the report since it was first promised seven years ago. He said since then, the department has continuously missed its own deadlines.
"The government has a responsibility to be transparent around its stewardship of half of our land mass. And they're not at all," said Coon. "That's appalling and unacceptable."
The report details forestry activity updates, ground sampling, aerial photography and photo interpretations of New Brunswick's forests.
"The state of the forests in New Brunswick has deteriorated considerably since 2015 when the last state of the forests report was released," said Coon.
"We know that there's been a massive reduction in habitat, a massive reduction in wildlife populations, birds in particular, as a result of the loss of that habitat."
The department did not respond to requests for an interview, but they responded via email: "We are committed to providing an update on the state of New Brunswick's forest[s]. We look forward to sharing more information with New Brunswickers in the near future."
"I don't expect to see it anytime soon," said Coon.
Calls for other forest-related reports
Amanda Page, ecological forestry researcher for the Conservation Council of New Brunswick, said this isn't the first time the government has missed a deadline on forest-related updates and reports.
In May, conservation groups — including the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Nature Trust of New Brunswick, Conservation Council of New Brunswick, and Nature NB — called on the provincial government to provide a "transparent and integrated forest management strategy rooted in biodiversity, conservation, Indigenous co-stewardship, and ecological forestry practices," according to Nature NB's website.
Page said the forest management strategy was supposed to be released in July, but it never came. She added that the Department of Natural Resources said it was working on a forest carbon inventory, but it too has not been released.
The Department of Natural Resources and Energy Development did not provide a response for information pertaining to these missing reports.
"Year after year, we're missing these deadlines," said Page. "The forests report is just the cherry on top of the cake of deadlines missed by our administration."
'Missing a lot of information'
The Carleton Victoria Wood Producers Association is a non-profit organization in Florenceville dedicated to helping private woodlot owners. General manager Linda Bell said that without an updated report, "we are missing a lot of information. We know it's inaccurate."
Bell added, "We know that many woodlots have been harvested, and we have no records of the wood being harvested. So the wood's gone, but there's been no record remitted to government in our production."
CBC New Brunswick requested interviews from larger logging companies, including J.D. Irving and Acadian Timber, but no one was made available for an interview.