Biodiversity is the variety of life in all of its forms including genes, species and ecosystems. Conserving the biodiversity of New Brunswicks forests means conserving the diversity of native species, naturally occurring forest ecosystems, and locally derived genes. To accomplish this the forest must be managed in ways that restore a more natural composition and structure that is aiming for the composition and structure of the forest at the time of settlement by the Loyal Americans.
Goals for restoring a more natural mix of species and forest community types would need to be established. There is also a need to allow a much greater proportion of all forest ecosystem types to attain old age before they are cut, as well as to establish a representative network of natural areas where logging does not occur.
Forest biodiversity in New Brunswick has deteriorated. A forest-wide change in the frequency and abundance of New Brunswicks native tree species has been caused by land clearing, logging, and most recently industrial timber management.(footnote #23) At the species level, balsam fir, white birch, white spruce and poplar have become far more common, while hemlock, red spruce, sugar maple, beech, ironwood and ash have decreased. At the ecosystem level, mixed wood communities and cedar forests have declined significantly while rich hardwood forests have almost disappeared.(footnote #24)
To conserve and restore native biodiversity to the New Brunswick woods will require changes in harvesting and silvicultural practices that better reflect the ecological constraints of the stand or ecosite.(footnote #25) Overall there should be a dramatic increase in the use of selection harvesting along with major modifications to clearcutting. Where even-aged management is ecologically justified partial or retention cutting should be carried out to leave large clumps of live mature trees, dead standing trees, coarse woody debris, and an irregular ragged edge.