Forest management plans do not include climate change

Denis Lord – Local Journalism Initiative

The Tactical Integrated Forest Management Plans (PAFIT) for 2023-2028 do not include a climate change strategy or a methodology for assessing sustainable forest management criteria.

These are the criticisms of Ivan Croton, an expert in ecological land planning and a former resident of Nord-du-Québec, during a January 11 information session on PAFIT at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests (MRNF).

PAFITs present forest management objectives: economic profitability analyses, replanting targets, silvicultural budgeting, issues, etc.
The public has until February 23, 2023 to comment on Nord-du-Québec’s PAFITs for nearly two dozen development units for 2023-2028.
The new PAFIT is divided into four modules: the legal and administrative context, the territory and its inhabitants, the analysis of the issues and finally the PAFIT itself. New: only in the latest consultation.

Compared to the previous five-year period, paludated sectors and protected areas have been excluded from the permissible cut, taking into account forest fires.
“We are carefully examining the comments and considering the most appropriate solution. This does not necessarily mean that we will combine the commentary, Paul Maxime of MRNF, about consultations. When necessary, the department meets with interested parties to clarify. »

The final version of the PAFITs will be published on 31 March 2023 and the follow-up report of the public consultation at the end of June.

Constant postponements

Yvan Croteau finds the lack of a climate change strategy in PAFITs truly deplorable. “We have been talking about climate change since the general consultation in 1992,” recalls Mr. Croteau, who also laments the lack of steps to popularize PAFITs among citizens. “Since they are chief foresters, each of them spoke about the importance and urgency of taking this into account in their 5-year report. In the last two reports, it was said that this will be taken into account in the next report. It is always postponed. »

Indeed, on January 11, Mr. Maxim explained that the Quebec climate change strategy currently being developed cannot be integrated into the forestry sector.
“They don’t need to wait for a national strategic plan; they have enough scientific elements to consider it when there is a risk to public welfare from a professional point of view”, says Yvan Croteau.

As one of the few citizens present at the Jan. 11 meeting, he reminds us that Quebec is 30 years behind in addressing an issue that worries the world and has far greater implications in the North.

Risks to the forest industry

According to Yvan Croteau’s analysis, the forest industry will benefit from an approach to climate change. “It doesn’t mean cutting less wood, it means coping mechanisms,” he says. “If there is a mega fire in a mature supply zone, for example, the industry finds itself in front of low-quality, low-quality wood, it will not know where to buy firewood in other years. Investments have a risk of predictability and stability. Sufficiently robust governance scenarios are needed to ensure industry anticipates challenges and climate change. It is currently zero. »

Lack of methodology

Yvan Croteau also criticizes the MRNF for not having a methodology to check how well forest management plans meet the criteria of sustainable forest management established by law: protecting, preserving and improving biodiversity, soil and water. state and productivity of forest ecosystems, maintenance of socio-economic benefits provided by forests to society, etc. The expert on ecological planning of territories emphasizes that there should be a methodology for each criterion. There is one for forestry and not for other purposes. […] We never measure how close we are to the outcome. »

Mr. Croteau cites as an example the government’s failure to analyze the impact of logging roads on spawning grounds, siltation and erosion.
It also notes the lack of accurate measurements and monitoring of the evolution of large mature forests. “In return, the ministry is generously encouraging the convergence of accumulated jobs that come to rejuvenate the forest in large areas. The result is that we are currently cutting down forests with trees less than 12 centimeters in diameter. Both large young arrays and large mature arrays are important. »

Yvan Croteau admits that there are more than 400 pages of specifications on soil and water conservation, but no methodology behind this to accompany an assessment of the achievement of the objectives.

Tourism potential

Finally, Yvan Croteau assesses that Quebec is in the process of diversifying its supply of forest management services. “The forestry sector, he says, generates only 2% of Quebec’s gross domestic product. […]. Calculations should be made in terms of benefit to society. »
Tourism, non-timber forest products, carbon trade.

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