Crown Lands and Forests Reform
Aboriginal people argue that the Crown Lands and Forests Act does not respect their interests. Many other New Brunswickers have said that it fails to promote their interests in forest conservation and economic benefits. The most common concerns expressed at the extensive consultations undertaken by both the Premiers Round Table on the Environment and Economy (1990), and the Commission on Rural Land Use and the Environment (1993) concerned land tenure on Crown land and the way the forest is managed on those lands. In other words people generally felt that conservation and economic fairness objectives were not adequately provided for under the Crown Lands and Forests Act.
The Conservation Council is proposing the following changes to provincial forest policy so that it better serves the interests of aboriginals, conservation and economic fairness for all New Brunswickers:
1. The boundaries of the management units on Crown land should be based on the ecological land classification system established by the Department of Natural Resources and Energy to aid in planning conservation-based timber management. 2. The conservation and restoration of forest biodiversity must take precedence over all other management objectives since it is essential to conserving the long-term productivity of the forest ecosystem. Our forest-based economy is dependent on the health of the forest ecosystem, not the other way around. 3. The current system of restricting Crown land licences to corporations owning "timber processing facilities" in the province should be terminated. Additional types of licenses must be established to serve aboriginal interests, foster conservation, and to create greater economic fairness for all New Brunswickers. 4. A Crown Lands Co-management Board constituted by representatives of the New Brunswick government, and Micmac and Maliseet First Nations should be established to oversee Crown Lands administration and management. This Board would report to the Legislature through the Minister of Natural Resources. 5. Provide a legal basis for community forest management agreements between the Crown Lands Co-Management Board and Community Forest Boards. Community Forest Boards whether aboriginal or not would have jurisdiction over an area of Crown land in terms of licensing and management for the benefit of the community and future generations. 6. Prohibit the export of logs or wood chips from any Crown land licence. 7. Where aboriginal rights are infringed upon to meet objectives concerning conservation and economic fairness, aboriginal peoples interests must be respected through consultation and fair compensation. 8. Licence conditions will be enforced on aboriginal licences by enforcement officers from the Micmac and Maliseet communities and on all other licences by DNRE. 9. The objectives for conservation and management on Crown land must be established with meaningful public participation.
10. All licenses should be subject to a built-in review process that is open and transparent and provides for public involvement prior to their renewal.