August 9 2023


Mike Holland
Minister Natural Resources and Energy Development

Hugh John Flemming Forestry Centre
Floor: 3
P. O. Box 6000
Fredericton, NB E3B 5H1

Subject: An open letter

Dear Mr. Holland,

On behalf of Green Light NB Enviro Club Feu Vert and as a rural resident of the Upper Saint John River Valley, I am writing to you because of my concern about forest conservation in New Brunswick.  I am writing to you as you are the minister responsible for the protection of the NB environment – which includes forest lands, waterways such as rivers and their tributaries, and farm lands.  These three seemingly separate types of environments are interconnected and are integral parts of the Saint John River Valley ecological system.  All three are under attack due to over-exploitation; a direct consequence of clear cutting of woodlands (private and public), and intensive industrial crop management systems which favor large expanses of land in monoculture crops- specifically -- potatoes.  

One obvious result of clear-cutting of forests is the accelerated snow melt which endangers communities along the Saint John River every spring.  The over-use of farmland increases erosion resulting in tons of top soil being washed down waterways and into rivers and streams.  Along with the topsoil, chemicals and fertilizers used in potato production also find their way to the Saint John River and into the water sources of the communities along the river.

It surprises me that the provincial government is not talking more about flooding.  I searched the internet to see what the New Brunswick Government is doing to address climate change – to move this province in the direction of responsible stewardship of the environment. 

I found the infographic below on the government of New Brunswick’s website.  Though on the surface, it may look like the province is doing its share to address conservation, it falls very short of Canada’s target for conservation- which is the conservation of 30% of the nations’ land and water by 2030.  This target, in part to address climate change,  was set and agreed by 55 countries who are part of the United Nations.  This target was set to ensure that natural areas that provide essential benefits to humanity such as food, clean water, clean air and a stable climate are protected. 

 The general public is finally accepting that climate change is a reality.  Temperatures are rising, and our forests are suffering. Some tree species will not survive rising temperatures and drier conditions, and we need a variety of tree species to ensure that at least some will survive climate change.  We need a program to re-establish natural forests throughout the province where people live; not only in isolated parks, or along highways to camouflage the clearcutting of forestlands.

10As illustrated by the map above, the Government of New Brunswick has decided that only 10% of the province’s environment needs protection.  The small squiggly lines on this map represent narrow strips along roadways and touristy places that the government deems worthy of protection. However, climate change is everywhere… not just a narrow strip along the Renous – Plaster Rock highway, not just 10% of the province. 

If our legacy is to protect 10% of the province’s environment, it means that 90% is unprotected.  It is startling to see that the map which illustrates the chosen protected area has a huge gap of unprotected region – that is the entire Saint John River Valley system which stretches from Edmundston to Saint John.  It is important to protect the areas where people actually live. 

The following is a list of actions that needs to be taken immediately in order to mitigate climate change:

  1. Increase the target for conservation to 30% of New Brunswick’s land, in line with Canada’s and the United Nations conservation target.   
  2. An immediate focus on the health of forests, specifically - identifying tree species that are dying because of climate change. 
  3. Re-planting of forest must include a variety of native trees – both conifer and deciduous.
  4. To slow down the spring melt, and prevent erosion, laws that protect waterways must be enforced.   This includes enforcing the prohibition of tree harvesting within the buffer zone on either side of waterways. 
  5. Financial incentives to private land owners to preserve existing woodlots, especially woodlots that have a 20% or greater slope and/or are adjacent to streams and rivers.
  6. Waterways on crown land must also be protected from harvesting. 

We cannot treat climate change as an exercise in window dressing along highways for the benefit of the tourist industry while 90% of New Brunswick – where NB citizens live is left unprotected in toxic industrial farm regions, such as in the upper Saint John River area.

I would like to learn what the New Brunswick government will do to protect New Brunswick’s biodiversity and the well being of our citizens.   The current targets are simply not enough. 


Floranne McLaughlin
Member of Green Light NB Enviro Club Feu Vert
Grand Falls, NB

 © 2018 NBEN / RENB