Some New Brunswick scientists say they're concerned that herbicide spraying of softwood stands is damaging the food source for local deer and moose.
Photo Credit: iSTOCK

Calls to end “ludicrous” herbicide spraying in public forests in New Brunswick

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Scientists are calling  provincial  forestry herbicide programme as “ludicrous”. He says,  “Whether it’s the Crown managing for an unnatural forest, in terms of climate change, and what’s right for this area, or by putting synthetic chemicals on to have a healthy forest — it is flawed logic.”

The  provincial government in east coast New Brunswick has been spraying herbicides on 15,000 hectares of crown land since the 1970’s  when it first permitted pulp and paper companies to clearcut natural forest and replace it with plantations. The taxpayer funded programme is to benefit the lumber industry by protecting  fast growing soft wood trees from encroaching hardwood saplings .

The hardwood saplings however are an important food supply for deer and moose, and there have been suggestions that the programme has removed thousands of tons of such food and has  contributed to the steep decline in moose and deer numbers in the province in the past ten years.

Rodney Severidge is a biologist at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton.  He says studies show the chemicals stay in the ground for up to a year. He says, ” We are fighting nature, and it’s ludicrous”

The Conservation Council of New Brunswick has been trying to get the chemicals banned for years. Tracy Glynn, a spokesperson for the council, “When we look around at our neighbours, Quebec banned herbicide spraying of its public forests in 2001, and it’s well overdue that the government get into 21st century forest management that is ecologically and socially responsible,” she said

Nova Scotia is no longer funding herbicide spraying of their forest. P.E.I. is pursuing Forest Stewardship Council certification for all of its public forest; this would mean banning herbicide spraying.

The council cites new evidence it says show the herbicide, previously thought to me safe for humans, is being shown to have toxic affects on animals and humans, including birth defects

Glynn says, “Old spruce and fir stands and beautiful maple and birch ridges have been clearcut, doused with herbicides and replaced with tree farms. Herbicides kill broad leaf trees, shrubs and grasses destroying the food source and habitats of many species found in our forest.”

Nova Scotia is no longer funding herbicide spraying of their forest. and  P.E.I. is pursuing Forest Stewardship Council certification for all of its public forest; this would mean banning herbicide spraying.

CBC News tried to contact the provincial Department of Natural resources, but they declined an interview. A later email from the New Brunswick DNR said “The herbicide program is essential to the future of New Brunswick’s forestry industry and involves the use of federally-approved herbicides on Crown land.”

Health Canada is now reviewing over 400 pesticides that were registered before 1994 — that review is expected to be completed by next year.

Conservation Council of New Brunswick paper on herbicides

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Posted in Economy, Environment

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4 comments on “Calls to end “ludicrous” herbicide spraying in public forests in New Brunswick
  1. Dan says:

    Just came back from Maine this weekend. Drove Highway 9 to NB, the forests were breathtaking. Mixed Acadian forest with deer everywhere. Healthy bear populations, green undergrowth. Got to NB, mono-culture spruce with areas of cut over and maturing tangles a rabbit couldn’t get through. What a difference a border makes. We should ask the Maine Govt to manage our forest for us, we are not doing a very good job.

  2. kyle comeau says:

    As a young person in NB it constantly worries me that little is being done to ensure a future for other young New Brunswickers. Spraying herbicide over public forests not only destroys valuable resources now, it ruins any potential they had in the future.

  3. Trish Hopkins says:

    As a New Brunswicker and nature enthusiast I am saddened by the blind eye our Government is giving to the bigger picture. Other jurisdictions (Maine, New Hampshire, Quebec, Ontario) have very health forest programs that do not include herbicide spraying yet employ more people in the industry than New Brunswick does. The employment issue is a non-argument because their logic is flawed.

    The greater concern is the potential for the herbicide to harm humans and all wildlife over the short and /or long term.

    The greater concern is also the counter-intuitive action to deplete our deciduous trees that have a huge role to play in reduction of greenhouse gases via their carbon dioxide filtering role as well as the fact that mixed forests cool the earth AND are the natural state of our Acadian forests.

    If NB continuous with this practice we risk of eventually having all of our food and lumber exports criticized as being genetically modified by areas such as Europe, PEI, NS, Quebec and elsewhere that have banned the use of glysophate. The chemical lands on our blueberry fields and other agriculture areas, not to mention our deer, moose, martins, fishers, and every living creature in the area of spraying. But that’s OK – they put up signs that say this ara has been sprayed so don’t eat the berries. Can’t remember the last time I saw a bear or deer reading that sign, though.

  4. swamp bear says:

    I live a breath nature daily as we all should. I have seen it happen within our province too many times when faced with environmental issues our government denies there need to pay attention to the issues which are clearly outdated and morbid to our beautiful forests. We all suffer and this is just one of many issues being ignored. Why do we give power to those who do not care. Those who do not listen or see the signs right before them. This is a crime not just towards the forest but towards humanity.
    Swamp Bear