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New measures aim to increase N.L.’s timber allocations and harvest levels

Some residents are concerned about the possibility of clearcutting being conducted on the Great Northern Peninsula.
New measures were announced for the province’s timber industry this week. - File photo

ST. JOHN’S, NL – Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne announced new measures for the province’s timber industry this week that he says will open up opportunities for both new entrants and existing operators.

The provincial government has set a goal to increase timber allocations and harvest levels by 20 per cent by 2020.

“These new measures will promote better use of our valuable timber resource, resulting in more commercial volume harvested and increased business opportunities within the forest sector,” Byrne said in a news release on Monday, March 26.

The new measures fall under three areas – cutting permit allocation policy, timber sale agreements and five-year commercial cutting permits.

Under the new cutting permit allocation policy, which will come into effect Jan. 1, 2019, timber that has been traditionally underutilized will be available to new entrants and contractors who are able to meet the increased capacity.

Staff with the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources will be evaluating the previous two years of logging activity to guide recommendations on future permit volumes, ensuring allocations are matched with a company’s ability to harvest and market their products.

As for timber sale agreements, the provincial government will begin offering tracts of Crown timber through a public tendering process to any registered business that qualifies and has an interest in harvesting the areas. Five per cent of the provincial annual allowable cut will be made available.

With five-year commercial cutting permits, the provincial government is aiming to provide long-term security and improved resource access to qualifying forest operators.

The permits will be issued to permit holders who regularly harvest annual volumes of 5,000 cubic metres to 50,000 cubic metres, and will be allocated in forest management districts that have sufficient timber and resource access. Five-year permits will only be available to existing operations who have demonstrated a history of harvesting their annual commercial cutting permits.

"Approximately 90 per cent of the province’s commercially available forest resource is allocated every year, yet less than 60 per cent of that allocation is harvested,” said Bill Dawson, executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Forest Industry Association.

“Ensuring this renewable resource is assigned to those with the capacity to sustainably use it, is a necessary step forward in the development of the province’s future forest economy."

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