July 5-12, 2004

PEI to update forest policy to reflect changes in resource, demands

The Prince Edward Island government is launching a major review of its forest policy, with a discussion paper slated for release this fall. It will provide a basis for public consultations.

Kevin MacAdam, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Aquaculture and Forestry, explained that the current forest policy was established in 1987 and significant changes have taken place since then. "Extensive changes within both the Island's forests and the forest industry have made the current policy out of date," he said, adding that between 1990 and 2000, the Island's forest decreased in area, volume, age and complexity.

For nearly 20 years, PEI's forest policy has centered on development of a timber industry. During that time, much of the Island's merchantable softwood was liquidated and markets for new forest products were developed. Forest harvesting has been mechanized, processing technology has improved, and thousand of acres of forest were converted to other uses. In addition, landowners rejected harvest controls on private lands.

At the same time, demands on public forest lands have been diversifying as society seeks 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.

MacAdam said that while timber will always be important, non-timber forest products and non-commodity values such as landscape and water quality are of increasing interest. He said the review will look at new directions for the future, with a new policy expected to develop more of a balance between timber and non-timber values.

A degree of public input has already been received 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. 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, sawmill operators, conservation groups and the public.

As a preparatory step, interested parties may review the current policy and associated background information on the PEI Web site, www.gov.pe.ca/go/forestpolicy. More information is also available from Ken Mayhew, forest information officer, 902/368-6450, FAX 902/368-4713.

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