SAINT ANDREWS – Provincial and federal forestry ministers along with Indigenous leaders met last week in Saint Andrews.
Following the conference, New Brunswick Natural Resources Minister Mike Holland said the discussions over the two days were wide-ranging and covered general forestry issues all provinces are facing, relationships with Indigenous groups and wildfire mitigation.
“Indigenous relationships and the work we need to do with First Nations was woven throughout the entire context of our meetings,” said Holland, adding conservation was also discussed. “There was conversation about climate change, the role the forests can play in it, how we can best protect our forests from wildfires, and how we can talk about, like we did in New Brunswick, on significant expansions to conservation.”
He said we have to keep in mind the need to continue to have a thriving forestry industry.
Holland said all forestry ministers in the country are dealing with softwood disputes with the United States in some form or another.
“We’re all in one accord that we feel it’s an issue we need to address,” he said, adding that at a nation to nation level, “we defer always to our partners at intergovernmental affairs.”
Pressed on the issue of conservation and how New Brunswick compares to other provinces, Holland referred to the announcements last year of the newly conserved lands bringing the province up to its mandated 10 per cent level.
“We’ve more than doubled the protected natural areas in the province of New Brunswick,” he said. “That’s the equivalent of adding 19 national park-sized blocks of conservation into the footprint of our Crown land.”
He said the province is continuing to work to find more land to add to its conservation inventory, including creating more Indigenous-protected areas.
“Any subject that we talked about has a First Nations component and the priority and the need to ensure that First Nations aspects of forestry are inclusive in all of our discussions,” said Holland.