January 9, 2006

Environmental group to manage public forests in PEI

CHARLOTTETOWN, PEI-The Prince Edward Island government has signed an agreement with the Environmental Coalition of Prince Edward Island to manage 800 hectares of public land in southeastern PEI. Under the ten-year lease agreement, the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project in Orwell will use the lands to demonstrate sustainable forest management and restoration of native Acadian woodlands. The Environmental Coalition will assume management responsibility for 26 forested properties in southeastern Kings and Queens Counties. All leased lands will remain in public hands and the Macphail Woods Ecological Forestry Project will manage the forest according to strict criteria and standards that have been developed jointly with the Department of Environment, Energy and Forestry. The lease is not transferable, but in recognition of the long-term nature of forest restoration and management, it is open to renewal after the initial 10-year term if conditions have been met and the two partners agree. Aside from some property tax relief, Environment, Energy and Forestry Minister Jamie Ballem said the government is not offering any direct financial support. However, the Macphail Woods project can sell timber or non-timber products from these lands, as long as they are harvested in a sustainable manner and offered for sale through public tender. This will help ensure that these lands continue to play a role in the local economy, he explained.

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