In his Sept. 28 letter, Paul Garland decries the lack of wood for his sawmill operation on the Avalon and calls for a concerted effort of industry and government for ideas and action “in the best interest of the forestry sector of the province.”
We all have an interest in the forests of this province being managed effectively and responsibly. This means management that serves not only the forest products industry, but also non-timber forest values, including recreation and wildlife conservation.
Current conservation policy accepts that a certain fraction of our forests, wetlands and barrens must be set aside and protected as wilderness and ecological reserves. Such protected areas are meant to be viable and significant representatives of the ecological regions of the province.
Several candidate protected areas in the Central Avalon Forest have been identified, but none has yet been declared by government. Designation of an ecological reserve within the remaining intact mature forest will do much to remove uncertainty with regard to planning for management of the remaining forest. Hopefully government will move on this soon.
If there is a diminishing reserve of harvestable timber on the Avalon, at least some blame must rest with expanded municipal and rural development and infrastructure. Just as we try to protect our best agricultural lands to preserve a capacity for local food production, so we should also plan for the protection of prime forest lands for purposes of sustainable timber and fuel wood production.
Taking a province-wide view, it cannot be said that there is a shortage of wood in Newfoundland and Labrador.
As has been reported recently in The Telegram and elsewhere, very large amounts of potentially high-value timber are being harvested in Labrador as the Muskrat Falls project moves ahead. That there is no workable plan in place to use that wood does not speak well for 21st-century resource management in this province.
John D. Jacobs
Nature Newfoundland and Labrador