On New Year’s Day, a new forestry policy affecting commercial cutting permit allocations came into effect in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The policy sees Fisheries and Land Resources staff making recommendations on future permit volumes for commercial cutting, after evaluating the applicant’s last two years of logging activity.
For permit renewals, it means if the full allocation under the permit is not being used, the company may be permitted for less, freeing up resources for other harvesters.
“There’s no economic benefit to having fibre, trees in the forest that are not being harvested,” Fisheries and Land Resources Minister Gerry Byrne told The Telegram, reiterating the Liberal government’s move to increase forestry activity.
The Liberal’s “The Way Forward” plan explicitly stated their desire to see harvest levels in the province raised by 20 per cent from 2015 levels by 2020.
The new commercial cutting policy (not related to domestic cutting permits) was allowed for under existing legislation.
Byrne said it is important to note the policy includes allowances so as not to penalize operators for, for example, a stretch of equipment trouble, or a bad year. Yet, he said, the province is seeing interest in timber from “various operators” and the government wants to avoid having resources allocated and not actually used.
“The purpose of this is to ensure that permit holders don’t just simply hold onto timber rights without exercising their rights or their obligations,” he said.
There was plenty of notice to industry of the change. In addition to The Way Forward campaign, there was a public announcement in March 2018 highlighting the policy. The move has received the support of the Newfoundland and Labrador Forest Industry Association (a new association formed in 2018, but representing major players in the local industry).
The policy is one part of the province’s changing approach to forestry permitting and promotion, also including the introduction of five-year permits and timber sales agreements.