February 17, 2022

Forest industry says expanded maple production could strain hardwood supply | CBC News

New Brunswick’s forestry industry is taking issue with a proposal from maple syrup producers demanding access to additional Crown lands.

Forest NB, the organization which represents forest products producers, argues the expansion could mean a loss of already limited timber for several major employers. 

Executive director Kim Allen said the campaign by syrup producers is spreading misinformation about the forest industry, which is already required to protect concentrations of maple trees under provincial policy.

“We’re equally concerned about how hardwood will be allocated going into the future it is a significant part of the forest sector in the province – upwards of 40 per cent,” she said.

“We think there’s room for both, there’s room for coexistence.

Maple syrup proposal

The New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association is asking the province for an additional 12,000 hectares of Crown land, over five years, to be made available for syrup production.

Producers currently have access to 14,000 hectares, which is less than one per cent of total Crown lands in the province. As demand for maple products rapidly grows, they say the current supply of trees is not enough to meet the needs of commercial buyers.

New Brunswick has about three million forested hectares of Crown land, but only about 30 per cent is hardwood. That limited supply is what the forestry organization is concerned as conservation land grows, a move the industry backs.

WATCH / N.B. maple syrup producers call for expansion plan

Why N.B. maple producers are asking for more land

The New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association wants an additional 12,000 hectares of Crown land for maple syrup. 2:55

The last expansion for the maple industry was in 2015, when producers received access to an additional 4,400 hectares of land.

In January, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment said it was “working to advance this file” and evaluating possible land uses. Spokesperson Nick Brown said the work on the file is still “ongoing” and there is nothing new to add at this time.

Selective cutting

Some maple producers have expressed concerns over logging activity on Crown lands where sugar maples grow.

But Allen said the forest products industry is not permitted to do widespread cutting in areas of maple dominance and already work under constraints.

“They’re limited in how much they can remove, they’re not clearing everything that’s there,” she said. “It’s a bit of a misrepresentation to say everything around the sugaries is being cut.”

Under the high content maple special management zone policy, major forest companies are required to limit operations in sectors with potential for sugary operations.

Louise Poitras is executive director of the New Brunswick Maple Syrup Association, which represents about 150 producers across the province. (Shane Fowler/CBC)

Louise Poitras, executive director of the syrup association, said even if a portion of maples are protected the reduced density makes the land inefficient to tap.

“Even though some of the adjacent land is being cut selectively, that really reduces the possibility of yield on those hectares.”

Poitras said the growth plan, which was submitted to the province in 2019, is reasonable and has been under review for far too long.

“We’re just asking for 0.4 percent of Crown land,” she said. “I don’t see how this could impede on forestry companies.”

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