SUSTAINABLE FOREST MANAGEMENT IN NEW BRUNSWICK, CANADA A grant from the Randle Travel Fund enabled Edward Wilson to return to New Brunswick on the east coast of Canada where he received his original training in forestry. He reports on the changing face of Canadian forest management.
or most British foresters, Canada holds a some of the change that has taken place in Canadian forestry over the intervening years. My special place in the imagination. Some of our visit included a series of field trips and grandest and most important trees hail from there, and many adventurous tales have been told participation at the CIF conference. about the great plant collectors of yore, such as David Douglas, who hiked thousands of miles Land and context New Brunswick is located on the east coast of through mountains and valleys in search of new Canada, and along with the provinces of Prince species to send home. The economic importance of species such as Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) and Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) has always drawn UK foresters to the west coast, especially Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands. Nevertheless, there is also much to learn from forests of the east, in terms of ecology, silviculture and the management systems now being adopted. In the summer of 2008 I returned after nearly 20 years to Fredericton, New Brunswick. Two important centenaries were being celebrated there, those of the Canadian Institute of Forestry (CIF) and the Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management, Figure 1. The rugged landscape of the Fundy s.hore in the south of University of New Brunswick New Brunswick. Here the forest tumbles to the sea from the heights (UNB). As a member of the of the Southern Uplands. Shipbuilding was a major industry former and a graduate of the latter, throughout much of the 19th century, with many boats assembled in the trip was a great opportunity to coves and on the beaches using timbers taken from the surrounding reconnect with old friends and hills. Today the forest has largely returned as a varied mixedwood of spruce, pine and broadleaves. professors, and to experience
In the Garden of Eden, planted by God, There were goodly trees in the springing sod, Trees of beauty and height and grace, To stand in splendour before His face. Apple and hickory, ash and pear, Oak and beech and the tulip rare, The trembling aspen, the noble pine, The sweeping elm by the river line; Trees for the birds to build and sing, And the lilac tree for a joy in spring; Trees to turn at the frosty call And carpet the ground for their Lord's footfall; Trees for fruitage and fire and shade, Trees for the cunning builder's trade; Wood for the bow, the spear, and the flail, The keel and the mast of the daring sail; He made them of every grain and girth For the use of man in the Garden of Earth. Then lest the soul should not lift her eyes From the gift to the Giver of Paradise, On the crown of a hill, for all to see, God planted a scarlet maple tree. Bliss Carman, 1916, April Airs: A Book of New England Lyrics, Small, Maynard and Co., Boston, Mass.
Edward Island and Nova Scotia, forms a region known as the Maritimes. In the north New Brunswick is bounded by the Gaspe Peninsula of Quebec, and on the west by the US state of Maine. To the east the plain of the Eastern Lowlands gently slopes towards the Gulf of St. Lawrence, while in the south the forest tumbles from the Southern Uplands into the Bay of Fundy. With dramatic cliffs and some of the highest tides in the world (>16m), there is a natural splendour to the landscape, despite centuries of settlement and resource exploitation (Figure 1). When I first arrived in New Brunswick at age 20 to study for a BSc in Forestry, I was immediately struck by the extent and character of the forest. Trees are everywhere in this part of the world; with 84% woodland cover, New Brunswick is the most densely forested province in Canada (Holloway et al., 2008). Most farms appear like small clearings in a continuous 196
woodland expanse, glvmg the countryside somewhat of a pioneering atmosphere. A common practice in the early years of settlement was for land to be sold in 100-acre lots stretching back from the shore or a riverbank. The 'front 60' were cleared for the house and farm, and the 'back 40' were reserved for a woodlot that provided fuel, timber and even maple syrup. In the 1980s I recall that several of my friends partly paid for their education with funds from a 'once in a generation' harvest on the family woodlot. Together these impressions reinforce the idea of connectivity, both in an ecological and cultural sense, which we have lost in the largely pastoral and industrial landscape of England. The Acadian Forest In terms of the forest itself, New Brunswick has a unique assemblage of flora and fauna (Zelazny, 2007). This has led to its classification as the Acadian Forest, a separate forest region in Canada (Rowe, 1972). It has been the inspiration of many folksongs and ecological poems. The poem Trees, by New Brunswick poet Bliss Carmen (1861-1929), is just one well-known example that many children learn in school (see Box). Three major influences are at play. First, the Appalachian Mountains run a south-north course along the eastern seaboard of North America, reaching their final 'full stop' at Mount Carleton (817m) in New Brunswick's higWands. The complex faulting and folding of the bedrock provides habitat for many mountain species and a natural corridor for plant and animal migration. Second, the tolerant hardwood forest of eastern North America stretches up the coast of New England towards Canada. Among the many species prevalent in valley bottoms and on the richer upland soils are: oak (Quercus spp.), maple (Acer spp.), butternut (luglans cinerea), ironwood (Ostrya virginiana), basswood (Tilia americana), yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), ash (Fraxinus americana),-beech (Fagus grandifolia), and cherries (Prunus spp.). Many of these trees reach their ecological limit in New Brunswick, so that the character of the forest changes as you travel further north (Zelazny, 2007).
The third element to note is the influence of the boreal forest that sweeps across the north from Quebec. Many trees associated with Canada's north are near the southern limits of their range in New Brunswick, including lightdemanding pioneer species such as jack pine (Pinus banksiana), tamarack (Larix laricina), birch (Betula papyrifera) and trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides), as well as shade-tolerant conifers such as balsam fir (Abies balsamea). Black spruce (Picea mariana), common in both wetlands and on upland ridges, has long been valued for its slow growth leading to high-quality ~ timber. s Two of the most characteristic species of the Acadian Forest are • GAP eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) GAP-STANO and red spruce (Picea rubens) STAND-GAP (Zelazny, 2007). The lure of white • STAND pine timber was one of the key drivers of the New Brunswick economy, encouraging many a hardy soul to navigate the inland Figure 2. Dominant natural disturbance regimes within each ecowaters and create new settlements district (coded by numbers) in New Brunswick. There is a transition (Wynn, 1981). From the early from gap to stand-level natural disturbances from the south and west 1700s woodsmen were sent out to to the north and east. A regional understanding of forest stand fell these magnificent trees for dynamics is helping guide future silvicultural interventions at the stand ships' masts and spars. For more level. Source: Department of Natural Resources, New Brunswick. than a century the Crown would survey the woods and reserve the best stems, by a wide range of natural disturbance processes scribing them with the up-pointing arrow mark, that operate at the landscape scale (Figure 2). In for future use by the King's Royal Navy. Red the south and west small-scale gap disturbances spruce was a similarly prized species, with a fine dominate. These help ensure that a mix of light grain and rich, mellow colour that makes it ideal demanding and shade tolerant species are able to for value-added products. The most prominent regenerate. Stands are often multi-species and spruce of western and central New Brunswick, it irregular in structure, especially along the Fundy coast and in the mixed-broadleaf forests along is of interest in silviculture and regeneration the Saint John valley. In the 'north and east the programmes. In effect, the Acadian Forest of New forest has a more boreal character and tends to Brunswick marks a transition between the regenerate after stand-replacing wildfires and temperate regions to the south and the much insect attack, most notably due to periodic harsher climates of the boreal region to the north. population explosions of spruce budworm Characteristic plant communities are sustained (Choristoneura fumiferana). The structure of
these stands tends to be more even-aged and composed of a small number of tree species. Only in a few places is such a complex mix of stand types evident in the northern hemisphere. Perhaps the closest analogue in Europe can be found in the Baltic states, where there is a similar transition between biomes (Wilson, 2006). From a silvicultural perspective, sustaining representative plant communities and developmental stages is a challenge that requires a deep knowledge of tree silvics, dendrology and forest stand dynamics. Timber and economic development With such apparent riches of timber, it is little wonder that forestry is a key component of the New Brunswick economy. In the 19th century the major industry was shipbuilding, and nearly 800 ships were built along the shore of the Bay of Fundy before the age of sail was surpassed by steel and steam. Most celebrated was the Marco Polo, the fastest clipper ever built, launched from Saint John in 1851. In the 20th century economic development went hand-in-hand with lumbering, sawmilling and paper manufacture, a legacy that continues to this day with 14 'single industry' and 40 'highly dependent' forestry-based communities (DNR, 2007). The sector now contributes CDN$2.1 billion to the provincial economy based on annual shipments worth CDN$3.7 billion (DNR, 2007). The forestry scene in New Brunswick is strongly influenced by the pattern of land ownership and the impact of past management practices. Ownership is divided between four separate bodies: the New Brunswick government (Crown land) - 51 %; private woodlot owners 29%; industrial freehold - 18%; and the federal government (research forests and national parks) - 2% (Martin, 2003). Crown land is owned by the people of New Brunswick and is managed by the provincial Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which grants licences for harvesting roundwood to major forest companies. All forest management activities on the land are undertaken by the company, subject to the terms and conditions of a 5-year management plan. In addition to harvesting, these activities include road maintenance and construction, forest
renewal, and wildlife and habitat conservation. DNR monitors the work being undertaken and approves each new plan at the end of successive 5-year operating cycles. Companies must produce detailed operating plans for each five years, in addition to a 25-year Spatial Blocked Plan and an 80-year Sustainable Strategic Plan (DNR, 2007). The right to terminate an agreement is retained by the province, in the event of poor performance, but there is strong political will for parties to work closely together to safeguard jobs, economic growth and revenue generation. In return for access to Crown land, a royalty fee, known as 'stumpage' is paid by the company. This is a common mechanism across Canada and is based on a 'fair market value' for harvested timber minus licensee management costs. A key point is that the stumpage is negotiated between DNR and each company (DNR, 2007). The inevitably close relationship between each provincial government and licensees on Crown land has been the source of tension between Canada and the United States, sparking several 'trade wars' in recent decades. The US government has asserted that stumpage is not actually calculated on fair market values for timber, and therefore represents an unfair subsidy that enables Canadian companies to undercut US producers. In each case there has been a negotiated settlement, but not without bouts of punitive tariffs being slapped on selected imports (Zhang, 2007). A significant feature of forestry in New Brunswick is the role played by small private woodlot owners. There are approximately 40,000 woodlots, with an average size of 45ha. A well-organised association looks after the interests of this group. Seven regional marketing boards provide a full range of management services to woodlot owners and negotiate collective timber sale agreements with forest products companies. This arrangement has close historical parallels with the system of woodlot cooperatives in Sweden and is supported by the provincial government to augment overall wood supply. Special arrangements are also in place to regulate hunting and timber extraction on Crown land by New Brunswick's aboriginal community.
Towards sustainable forestry development of an integrated ecological land For many decades provincial authorities viewed classification tool (Zelazny, 2007), helped propel Crown land as a resource to be exploited and a DNR forward as one of the most advanced forest vehicle for regional development. Pulp mills and management agencies in North America (Holloway et aI., 2008). sawmills were developed with guaranteed supplies of timber from Crown land to augment At the present time six major companies hold output from industrial freehold and private licenses on approximately 3.13 million hectares woodlots. While conservationists have long of Crown land. Approximately 70% of all Crown argued that the provincial government should land is designated as 'Regular Forest Zone' for allocate more land for conservation and commercial forestry operations. The remaining protection of specific habitats, information about 30% is designated as 'Special Management the long-term sustainability of the wood supply Zone' and includes deer wintering areas, old has only recently emerged. forests, riparian buffers, reserves and specific Management concern for the wider vegetation communities. One of the major ecosystem and conservation priorities is a players is J. D. Irving Ltd. (JDI), a family-owned relatively recent development. By the 1970s company based in New Brunswick since 1882. there was growing concern that a new approach JDI holds two Crown licenses totalling 1.05 to managing forests was required. The New million ha, in addition to an industrial freehold Brunswick Forest Resources Study of 1974 of 725,000ha in southern New Brunswick and (Tweedale, 1974) took a dim view of the status another 650,000ha in Maine and Nova Scotia. quo: "Landmarks on the formulation of forest This provides raw material for major pulp and policy in New Brunswick are few and far paper operations, sawmills and forest products between. Policy changes have tended to be manufacture; the company is now one of the piecemeal ones, usually made to catch up with most highly integrated forestry companies in the world. changing conditions, not to stimulate change." However, since that time there have been several major reviews and the province has been more strategic in its effort to balance economic, social and-;;- ~ 120 ~ • Mixedwood environmental values (e.g., Erdle -g • Hardwood 100 '~" and MacLean, 2004; Holloway et o aI., 2008). E 80 Among the most important ~ developments in New Brunswick ~ 60 ~ forestry were the rapid adoption ~ o of geographic information ••. systems and advanced inventory a . techniques in the 1980s. Also at this time, Dr Gordon Baskerville, Dean of Forestry at UNB, was championing the changes that were sweeping through the Figure 3. The age-class distribution on Fundy License (2002), forestry sector. His work with managed by J. D. Irving, Ltd. This block of Crown land covers 427,224 ha in southern New Brunswick. The uneven distribution of Tom Erdle on wood supply age-classes is a challenge for managers as it may lead to future modelling and landscape planning shortfalls in wood supply. There is pressure to harvest as much of the was very much on the leading old forest as possible while silvicultural interventions are being edge (Erdle and Baskerville, designed to boost productivity in younger stands. Not all agree that 1986). This, along with the biodiversity is being adequately protected. (Source: J. D. Irving, Ltd) j
silviculture. Clear-felling remains the most important system on Crown land and industrial freehold across the province (Figure 4). However, rules that limit the size of cut-blocks and specify requirements for adjacency ensure that forest connectivity and habitat is maintained. Many stands are left to naturally regenerate and are later treated by pre-commercial thinning (Pitt and Lanteigne, 2008), but there is also a sophisticated artificial regeneration programme (Martin, 2004). Planting practices have evolved rapidly in recent years following a study by Erdle and Pollard (2002). This found that overreliance on jack pine in many plantations was altering the natural vegetation patterns on Crown land. Among the recommendations that have been adopted are: (a) broadening the number of species planted, with wider use of red spruce and cedar, (b) employing a mix of species at the stand level, and (c) considering more fully the site conditions and natural species composition within ecological zones. Silviculture and ecosystem management Tree improvement has been ongoing for Forestry in New Brunswick embraces both decades and significant gains have been made intensive and extensive approaches to with many native commercial species (Martin, 2003 & 2004). The province, federal government and industry work together through the New Brunswick Tree Improvement Council, founded in 1976. The provincial nursery at Kingsclear, near Fredericton, produces 20-25 million container seedlings each year for reforestation of Crown land, and incorporates the regional seed centre and tree improvement programme. Equally impressive is the work being done in the private sector by JDI. Taking a long-term view, they initiated their own tree breeding programme and seed orchard in the 1980s at Parkindale, NB, to supply their Figure 4. A typical clear-cut in central New Brunswick. Only species considerable forest holdings. This and stems of commercial value were removed during the harvesting was integrated with a container operation, leaving a great deal more debris and residual vegetation production system that has led to an we might see on a similar site in Britain. Regeneration will be secured by planting and some natural seeding. Aerial herbicide the planting of approximately 750 a lication may be considered to secure the regenerating stand. million seedlings by 2008, with a
During my visit it was interesting to note that a new Task Force on Forest Diversity and Wood Supply was reaching its final stages of consultation (Erdle and Ward, 2008). Included in the documentation were a series of options for the future management of Crown land, each with benefits and costs. Projected shortfalls in timber supply are a threat to the future viability of the forestry sector, but reliance on the few remaining old growth stands as a source of timber may be disastrous for biodiversity. It is a familiar story in almost every forestry jurisdiction, and sobering to recognise that our ability to change and act in a more sustainable way is constrained by the rate at which a forest grows (Figure 3). Hard choices inevitably have to be made, and perhaps it is no surprise than even the most carefully worked strategy is not likely to please all parties or adequately protect all the old growth forests (Moszynski,2009).
Right: Figure 5. The author beside a dominant eastern white pine tree in a mixed conifer stand in central New Brunswick. The first intervention as part of an irregular shelterwood system was recently completed. It is expected that this will create suitable conditions for natural regeneration of the stand. (Photo: Bruce Matson 2008)
current rate of production exceeding 30 million seedlings per year. Emerging technologies such as somatic embryogenesis are already embedded in regeneration efforts (Park, 2002), and commercial thinning is an increasingly important intermediate stand intervention. Such measures that boost forest productivity are vital to long-term timber supply. Elsewhere, there are a growing number of examples of alternative silvicultural systems, not often associated with Canadian forestry (Park and Wilson, 2007). Many private woodlots are located in areas where the forest is dominated by tolerant hardwood species. These have traditionally been managed on selection or group shelterwood systems to provide a continuing supply of fuel wood and occasional parcels of timber. However, there is now far greater interest in selection and shelterwood systems on Crown land and industrial freehold, largely driven by landscape and ecosystem planning that works to maintain existing forest habitats and species compositions (Figures 5-7). Attempting to emulate natural patterns of disturbance is a strong rationale for adopting a regional approach to the design of silvicultural interventions (Wilson, 2009). Concluding thoughts The title for the CIF Centennial Conference was 'Manage for Change'. In the years since I first studied and worked in the province there has clearly been a profound re-assessment of the relationship between people,
Figure 6. A natural stand of red spruce in the FL!ndy Coastal ecoregion. Red spruce is a shade tolerant species of high economic and ecological value. It is found in a large number of plant community associations, requiring a range of silvicultural systems for its sustainable management. Selection or shelterwood approaches may be most appropriate to mimic natural disturbance patterns in this location.
stand and even compartment level. Not everything is perfect, and clearly change will be ongoing ... just as it is everywhere else. But I did sense that silviculture is more firmly rooted in its ecological foundations and the path to sustainability is more assured. On the last day of my field trip, we stood in a fine young plantation of red spruce, high above the Bay of Fundy. Foresters were sharing their experience and admiring the wonderful summer scene. As we looked carefully around and discussed many technical details, our hosts pointed out that one of the 'wee Figure 7. A stand of eastern white pine being regenerated with an irregular shelterwood system. This species is an important component things' they do is to mix a few of the Acadian Forest and is of significant conservation interest. white pine seedlings in with every batch of spruce. The tree planter nature and forests. New management systems takes no account of the difference and so a and understanding at the landscape scale have random pattern of white pine is returned to the started to influence actions taking place at the forest. Perhaps 200 years from now, these trees
will grow tall above the canopy and stand out on the sky-line, just as they did in former times. I imagined a sailing ship in a future age without oil, seeking refuge in the bay from an Atlantic storm. The tall pines will provide timbers for a new mast and to repair the broken spars. A land of opportunity will continue to provide thanks to a forester's vision. Acknowledgements My thanks are extended to the trustees of the Randle Travel Fund for making it possible to study the current forest scene in New Brunswick. Also, thanks to Bruce Matson, RPF, Forest Management Branch, New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources, for taking me to see a variety of sites in central New Brunswick and providing information on current management practices. I am also indebted to the Canadian Institute of Forestry for organising an excellent field tour to the Fundy Coast Ecoregion. Finally, thanks to my great friends Professor Paul Aird (Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto) and Karen Murray for their thoughtful comments and contribution to this article. Further Information Association of Registered Professional Foresters of New Brunswick - www.arpfnb.ca Canadian Forest Service - Atlantic Forestry Centre - cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/regions/afc Canadian Institute of Forestry - www.cif-ifc.org Conservation Council of New Brunswick www.conservationcouncil.ca Fundy Model Forest-www.fundymodelforest.net J. D. Irving, Ltd - www.jdirving.com New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources - Forest Management branch www.gnb.ca/0079/index-e.asp New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Ownerswww.nbwoodlotowners.ca New Brunswick Forest Products Association www.nbforestry.com
References Department of Natural Resources (DNR) (2007) New Brunswick forestry. Presentation to
Quebec Forest Industry Council, 11 May 2007. Department of Natural Resources, Fredericton, NB. 17 pp. Erdle, T. and G.L. Baskerville (1986) Optimizing timber yields in New Brunswick forests. Pp. 275-300 In National Research Council (US). Ecological knowledge and environmental problem-solving: concepts and case-studies. National Academy Press, Washington, DC. 388 pp. Erdle, T. and D.A. MacLean (2004) Forest management in New Brunswick: the Jaakko Poyry study, the Legislative Select Committee on Wood Supply, and where do we go from here? Forestry Chronicle, 81, 9296.
Erdle, T. and J. Pollard (2002) Are plantations changing the tree species composition of New Brunswick's forests? Forestry Chronicle, 78(6): 812-821. Erdle, T. and C. Ward (2008) Management Alternatives for New Brunswick's Public Forest. Report on the New Brunswick Task Force on Forest Diversity and Wood Supply. Province of New Brunswick. Fredericton, NB. 40 pp. Holloway, N., G.A. Jordan and B.M. Smith (2008) Management of New Brunswick's Crown forest during the twentieth century. Forestry Chronicle, 84, 481-491. Martin, G. (2003) The Management of New Brunswick's Crown Forests. Department of Natural Resources, Province of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB. 20 pp. Martin, G. (2004) Kingsclear Forest Tree Nursery. Department of Natural Resources, Province of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB. 18 pp. Moszynski, M. (2009) Liberals introduce forestry changes: environmentalist slams management plan for Crown lands. Times and Transcript, Moncton, NB, 31 January 2009. New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners (NBFWO) (2006) New Brunswick Woodlot Owners, Background and Statistics. New Brunswick Federation of Woodlot Owners, Fredericton, NB. 5 pp. Park, A. and E.R. Wilson (2007) Beautiful plantations: can intensive silviculture help 203
Canada to fulfil ecological and timber production objectives? Forestry Chronicle, 83, 825-839. Park, YS. (2002) Implementation of conifer somatic embryogenesis in clonal forestry: technical requirements and deployment considerations. Ann. For. Sci., 59, 651-656. Pitt, D. and L. Lanteigne (2008) Long-term outcome of pre-commercial thinning in northwestern New Brunswick: growth and yield of balsam fir and red spruce. Can. J. For. Res., 38, 592-610. Rowe, J.S. (1972) Forest Regions of Canada. Publication No. 1300. Canadian Forestry Service, Department of the Environment, Ottawa. 172 pp. Tweedale, R.E. (1974) Report of the Forest Resources Study 1974. Department of Natural Resources, Province of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB. Wilson, E.R. (2006) Forest management and conservation in Latvia. Scottish Forestry, 60, 14-21.
Wilson, E.R. (2009) Silviculture and ecosystem management in New Brunswick, Canada. Scottish Forestry, 63, in press. Wynn, G. (1981) Timber colony: a historical geography of early nineteenth century New Brunswick. University of Toronto Press, Toronto. 224 pp. Zelazny, YF. (general editor) (2007) Our Landscape Heritage: the story of ecological land classification in New Brunswick, 2nd edition. Department of Natural Resources, Province of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB. 359 pp. Zhang, D. (2007) The Softwood Lumber War: politics, economics, and the long U.S.Canadian trade dispute. Resources for the Future, Washington, DC. 300 pp.
Edward (Ted) Wilson has worked as a silviculturist in both the UK and Canada, including a period as assistant professor of silviculture at the Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto. He is currently studying medicine at the University of Sheffield, but remains active in forestry research and education. 11 Howard Street, Penrith, Cumbria, CAll 9DN; [email protected]