Early Intervention Critical to Prevent $15B Loss
Last month, Ignite Fredericton and its Natural Resources Task Force (NRTF) supported task force member, ForestNB, with their advocacy campaign regarding the spruce budworm early intervention strategy. You may be asking why?
This early intervention program combats the devastating effects of spruce budworm infestation that kills forests. If left untreated, spruce budworm will cost Atlantic Canada $15.3 billion over 40 years… That means mill closures and the loss of jobs! It means the loss of carbon sinks, which help balance greenhouse gas emissions. It means dead, dry forests, which are more susceptible to wildfires.
New Brunswick’s natural resources sector, comprising forestry, represents $3.98 billion in annual GDP employing 30,000 people. This breaks down to $600 million and 5,000 people employed in natural resources in the Fredericton Region largely due to the fact that over 25% of UNB graduates work in natural resources and related fields. More specifically, over 20,000 Atlantic Canadians work in the forestry industry alone.
Ignite Fredericton and its NRTF are focused on maximizing responsible natural resource development opportunities and mitigating potential economic loss. We see the budworm issue as having tremendous risk if the current program is not maintained and funding renewed federally. Many of us remember the devastating effect of the last budworm outbreak in the seventies and eighties when millions of hectares of forest were lost. In an economically challenged province, we cannot withstand this type of loss again.
The threat is real. Currently, there is a spruce budworm infestation in Québec of about 7 million hectares in size, and it is growing. This is the same size as the total landmass of New Brunswick! The outbreak will spread to New Brunswick and throughout Atlantic Canada if this is left untreated.
The early intervention strategy is not new, but has been running for three years. Scientists with the Canadian Forest Service and several regional universities have developed this program to detect and treat populations of spruce budworm before they reach outbreak levels. The strategy has been implemented and tested since 2014, thanks to the Healthy Forest Partnership of industry, researchers, and government. The treatments are very targeted and the products used only affect spruce budworm. They are not harmful to humans, mammals, birds, bees, or fish.
We need the Government of Canada to renew its partnership and funding for this important work. The early intervention strategy is $300 million solution to a $15 billion problem. The ask of the federal government is $86 million over the next 4 years, with industry and provincial governments investing as well.
Although the letter writing campaign has closed at: www.ActforHealthyForests.ca, please keep this issue top of mind with your Federal MPs. We need to keep our forests healthy, so that the forestry industry can thrive and prosper, thus supporting New Brunswick’s economy!
Learn More About Forest NB and Healthy Forest Partnership:
Forest NB represents about 95% of the forest product manufacturers in New Brunswick and also numerous companies in the supply chain. There is a larger collaborative group called the Healthy Forest Partnership, composed of industry, governments and academics that is spearheading research on budworm outbreak control.
Laurie Guthrie, EcD, BIS
Economic Development & Marketing Specialist
Ignite Fredericton | Knowledge Park | Planet Hatch