Friday, March 14, 2008

Tree Planting concerns continue

Some members of the Timmins LCC (Local Citizens’ Committee) continue to express concern about the decrease in forest regeneration and tree planting for managed forests in the Timmins area. The LCC is a public committee whose job is to represent the concerns of the public and stakeholders when it comes to managing crown forests.
The LCC discussed the tree planting issue at it’s regular meeting Wednesday night where concern was voiced about a Timmins Times news story published on February 15. That story revealed worries expressed by LCC members that no active tree planting was planned for 2009 for the Romeo Malette Forest and the Nighthawk Forest, which are managed by Tembec and AbitibiBowater respectively.
The concern was sufficient enough that the LCC sent a formal letter to Tembec and AbitibiBowater on Feb.1 stating “it has been reported that no tree seedlings are being grown for spring 2009. What is the reason behind this decision?”
Both companies responded in writing that the primary reason to stop tree planting in 2009 is that harvest levels, woodcutting, is far below normal owing to the economic downturn in the forest industry.
AbitibiBowater further indicated that as more of the trees are cut, then more areas will be re-planted. Tembec further indicated that some cutover areas will “regenerate naturally” while other areas “are scheduled for jackpine aerial seeding in 2009”
There appears to be a difference of opinion between some LCC members and the forestry companies about what constitutes appropriate forest regeneration.
A letter expressing the LCC’s formal concern is being circulated among all its members who will determine the precise text of the letter.
A vote will be held to determine whether enough members are sufficiently concerned to officially present the letter to the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The money for forest regeneration comes from the stumpage fees the companies pay for each tree that is cut. It is put into a forest renewal trust fund, then doled out for forest regeneration by the companies.
The letter says it’s time for Ontario to re-invest more funding in the silviculture side of forestry to rebuild Ontario’s crown forests.
The LCC draft letter also suggests that the implementation of the forest regeneration money be taken out of the hands of the forestry companies and be handed off to a third party.

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