August 24, 2004
For immediate release
Government Receives Ground Hemlock Harvest Report
Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture & Forestry
Over the last few months, there have been growing concerns about the sustainability of Prince Edward Island’s ground hemlock harvest, as well as associated issues including theft and trespass. In order to assess these issues, the Council held meetings in July with land owners, the public and those involved in the industry.
“The Public Forest Council has done an excellent job of engaging the public and industry in a discussion of these problems and recommending practical solutions,” said Kevin MacAdam, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Forestry. “I will be bringing the Council’s report forward for discussion with my colleagues later this month. I hope we will be able to address these matters in a way which encourages the sustainable development of the industry while respecting both land owners and the forest.”
Council members heard about a range of problems including the difficulties land owners face when trying to stop trespass or press charges for unauthorized harvests. Some land owners reported that they had not been paid for their hemlock, or that their forests and fields had been damaged by harvest activities. There were also concerns about the level of harvest and inconsistencies in the harvest standards of the various companies. Based on the meetings, the Council concluded that reports of theft, trespass and improper harvest are widespread and increasing.
Meeting participants recommended potential strategies such as strengthening the Trespass to Property Act, forming local groups to watch over neighboring lands, licensing harvesters and buyers, requiring training and identification tags for harvesters, and identification tags for bags of harvested ground hemlock. The Council has presented specific recommendations to Government that address these strategies.