Thursday, February 14, 2008

Treeplanting cuts cause concern

The Timmins Times has learned that tree planting and forest regeneration in the Timmins area is decreasing to the point that local forestry officials are alarmed.
The Timmins LCC (Local Citizens’ Committee) is expressing concern that no new tree planting will take place in 2009, a situation that one committee member says will have a long-term damaging impact on both the Romeo Malette Forest and the Nighthawk Forest.
The role of the LCC is to advise the local office of the Ministry of Natural Resources on resource management issues, primarily related to forestry.
At least three members of the committee have expressed concern, but as yet, none is on the record. The concern is that any decision to stop tree-planting in Timmins will have a detrimental impact on the environmental, and economic, sustainability of the local forests.
The official minutes of the LCC tell part of the story. The money to buy seedlings and hire tree-planters comes from the stumpage fees paid by forestry companies to the MNR.
According to the LCC documents, the money being provided by Tembec and Abitibi-Bowater is decreasing substantially.
In the January minutes, concern was expressed by committee member Jenny Millson, of Millson Forestry Service in Timmins.
“Jenny informed the LCC that no trees are being scheduled to be planted on the Nighthawk and Romeo Malette Forests in 2009. This is based on the fact that no seedlings have been ordered for that planting year. Planting is still scheduled for 2008. This is a concern to her as a contractor, as it negatively impacts her business and other suppliers in Timmins; as a forester, as it is not regenerating the forest in a timely manner; as an employer, as it means 50-80 students will not be hired for the tree plant and nursery, and as a Timmins resident, as these students (many of them local) will not be returning to the north. It is felt that the reason for not scheduling tree plants in 2009 is that the Forest Renewal Trust funds of these Forests are presently below minimum balance and the money is not available now to purchase seedlings. It is felt that the lower Forest Renewal Trust rates ($4.36/m3) and harvesting of areas with lower stand volumes have led to this problem. It was suggested as a solution that government provide addition funding for regeneration to the forest industry during this difficult time, similar to the roads funding program.”
One other member has expressed concern that every year that planting is not done, it’s another year lost for sustainable growth of trees.
“If they don’t do more growth, the ecological footprint of this whole thing just gets bigger and bigger. Eventually you have to cut more land area to get the same volume of wood. That’s not good, that’s not good at all.”
The LCC has sent letters of concern to both companies. Eventually the concern will be sent to the office of the Minister of Natural Resources.

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