World Wildlife Fund Canada has initiated the "Hot Spots '98 Campaign", to
help achieve protection for 14 of Canada's most spectacular wilderness areas by July 1,
1998, Canada Day. The Loch Alva Wildland has been chosen as the Hot
Spot in New Brunswick. World Wildlife
Fund Canada and the New Brunswick Protected Natural Areas Coalition are working to
highlight the opportunity that exists right now to protect the Loch Alva Wildland, and
also to show that Loch Alva is the leading edge of other wild areas in New Brunswick that
need to be protected.
Located predominantly on Crown land, the Loch Alva Wildland is now under forest license
to J.D. Irving Limited. A large forest fire burned much of the area early this century.
Limited logging occurred in the distant past but most of the area is still free of roads,
which is unusual for southern New Brunswick. Logging roads have only been built in the
western portion of this area, and some blocks have been logged during the past twenty
years or so. Plans exist to expand cutting and road-building throughout the area.
Calls for wilderness protection in the recent past have been met with resistance from
the forestry industry and government in New Brunswick. One of the reasons given for this
resistance (aside from wood supply and employment issues) is that government could not
possibly prevent forestry companies from harvesting wood in areas where they have invested
hundreds of thousands of dollars building logging roads. There are no roads here, so we
have a timely opportunity to protect the unspoiled areas of the Loch Alva Willdland, and
to restore the western parts where logging has already occurred.
This natural area has been considered for protection several times in the past, most
notably in the late 1960s/early 1970s when it was nominated for designation as one of two
potential wilderness provincial parks (the other was Mt. Carleton Provincial Park, which
was designated in 1969). "Loch Alva Provincial Park" was never established,
apparently because of a political decision to choose only one area for park status.
As a result of a scientific mapping exercise done in the early 1990s by members of the
Department of Natural Resources and Energy, the area was cited as a candidate for
protection as being representative of the Continental Lowlands and Fundy Coastal
ecoregions. It was called the Loch Alva Study Area. Unfortunately, a protected areas
strategy for the province was not implemented
Dr. Louis LaPierre is now under contract to the Government of New Brunswick to develop
a protected areas strategy for the province, and to forward his recommendations to
government. To that end, Dr. LaPierre has brought together an advisory group, which
consists of Dr. Graham Forbes (University of New Brunswick), Dr. Stephen Woodley (Parks
Canada), Vince Zelazny (DNRE Forest Management Branch), Chris Steeves (DNRE), and Martin
Marshall and Alan Dockerty (DNRE Parks and Natural Areas Branch).
This group has held two workshops over the summer to outline the process which they are
following. The workshops have been for invited representatives of government, industry,
and non-government organizations, with no involvement of the public at large.
An analysis is being done to determine the potential locations of the large protected
areas. They are trying to locate the areas that capture the greatest variety of habitat
types and landscape features and have the least number of roads and other disturbances.
According to Dr. LaPierre, the proposed strategy will recommend at least one large
protected area (20,000 to 25,000 hectares - at least as big as Fundy National Park) for
each of the seven designated ecoregions in the province. Recognizing that these will not
be enough to represent the diverse ecosystems within the province, the group will also
recommend that government augment these large protected areas with a suite of smaller and
medium sized areas. Also, necessary changes to legislation and policy will be recommended,
to enable the proposed strategy to be implemented in a timely manner.
Until the final report is released early in 1998, it is not known exactly what kind of
protected areas strategy will result from all this work. The scientific analysis the group
has undertaken seems to be based on sound ecological and conservation biology principles.
Ultimately, however, politicians will decide if and how those scientific recommendations
will be implemented.
The Loch Alva Wildland is an ideal candidate to represent the ecoregions of New
Brunswick, and should be placed under interim protection until formal, enduring measures
are in place.
There are non-profit organizations working in New Brunswick to ensure that the
opportunity that exists to protect the Loch Alva Wildland is not lost. Citizens can help
encourage the protection of the Loch Alva Wildland by contacting their MLAs and cabinet
ministers. For more information on the Loch Alva Wildland, the New Brunswick Protected
Areas Strategy, or the Hot Spots '98 Campaign, please visit the World Wildlife Fund Canada website or send an email
message to the NB Protected Natural Areas Coalition.