June 30, 2004
For immediate release
New Forest Policy Being Developed
Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture & Forestry
“We must start with Islanders’ vision for the forest – what we, collectively, want Prince Edward Island’s forest to be,” said Mr. MacAdam. “Once this is stated, the policy should serve as a guide or blueprint for getting there.”
The minister said significant changes have taken place since the current policy was established nearly two decades ago. The current forest policy centered on development of a timber industry. Since that time, much of the Island’s merchantable softwood was liquidated and markets for new forest products were developed. The harvest industry mechanized, processing technology has improved, thousand of acres of forest were converted to other uses, and landowners rejected harvest controls on private lands. Demands on public forest lands is also increasing as society demands new outdoor recreation opportunities, options for non-timber forest products, protection of sensitive or unique forest areas, and higher standards for the harvest of traditional forest products.
“Extensive changes within both the Island’s forests and the forest industry have made the current policy out of date,” said Mr. MacAdam. He said that, between 1990 and 2000, the Island’s forest decreased in area, volume, age and complexity. “Forest harvest during this time did provide good financial returns to industry and landowners. However, there has also been some loss of our natural capital – our forests – and social capital such as employment within the industry.”
Mr. MacAdam said that, while timber will always be important, non-timber forest products and non-commodity values such as landscape and water quality are also of interest to Islanders. A new policy is expected to develop more of a balance between timber and non-timber values.
Through avenues such as the Round Table Report on Land Use and Stewardship, consultations by the Public Forest Council, and a recent survey of woodlot owners, Islanders have commented on forests and related management issues. Over the coming months, an interdepartmental steering committee will be building on this work, in preparation for more extensive consultations with woodlot owners, harvest and silviculture contractors, sawmillers, conservation groups and the public. In the interim, Islanders are invited to visit www.gov.pe.ca/go/forestpolicy to review the 1987 policy and associated background information and offer their vision for Prince Edward Island’s forests.
A draft discussion paper and consultations are expected this fall.