The adoption of government policies designed to complement the network of protected areas and to preserve the woodland caribou correspond to a reduction in allowable one million cubic meters and the loss of 1592 jobs in Saguenay-Lac-Saint- Jeans.
This is one of the conclusions of the study conducted by economist Gilles Bergeron of the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC) and Nancy Gélinas of the Faculty of Forestry at Laval University, on behalf of the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Parks.
This million cubic meters could double if Quebec agrees to fully meet the requirements of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
In terms of economic impact and on the ratios used by the Ministry of Forests – which are $ 200 per cubic meter – the loss to the regional economy would reach $ 200 million per year, including salaries and government revenues from harvest.
The document entitled Evaluation of the social and economic impact of the implementation of the requirements of the Forest Stewardship Council in the territory of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region was highly anticipated. It allows, according to economist Gilles Bergeron, to establish a clear picture of the sector and especially to measure specific impacts on the regional economy of the different challenges that the sector must negotiate.
“These are the impacts that will occur if nothing is done to mitigate the identified issues or decisions taken,” recognize the two professors. As to the application of the FSC standard, the precise impact could not be assessed, but it will not be more than two million cubic meters.
Ultimately, the authors have agreed in a press conference, the simple application of government measures in public forests will lie to the Premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard, who has pledged not to sacrifice “a job for a caribou.” The link between the reduction in allowable and jobs is an indisputable equation.
That companies retain or not the FSC standard will not change the environmental issue, according to Gilles Bergeron. The region is still exposed to pressure from environmental groups and of all Aboriginal issues. He will therefore be, according to researchers, a dialogue to reach consensus on forest harvesting which is the basis of all industrial sector.
Small municipalities affected
The outstanding feature of this study shows Gilles Bergeron, is that it clearly identifies the communities that have to deal with the economic consequences of the reduction in allowable. This is a chain of small municipalities located mainly in the two MRC north of Lac-Saint-Jean.
The figures used to measure impacts on employment are different from those of the Quebec government. According to Gilles Bergeron, for the regional economic structure, it is more realistic to speak of a loss of 159 jobs per 100 000 cubic meters of wood, unlike the ratio used by Quebec’s 300 jobs in 100 000 cubic meters.
As part of this study, the participants met with representatives of various environmental groups. According to Nancy Gélinas, the representatives of these groups do not believe in such important consequences for forest communities. “They argue that more jobs will compensate in areas related to the forest, but not talking about the same level jobs,” says geographer who believes that these alternative jobs never will compensate all losses .
Notwithstanding the impacts from the constraints of the FSC standard and environmental issues, the two professors argue that the regional industry will be a new phase of consolidation. Regional production capacity exceeds the capacity forest. So there will be, according to Gilles Bergeron, trade-offs between communities.
The authors therefore recommend the government already setting up a federal-provincial plan to compensate for the economic losses of forest reduction, realization of an evaluation by the chief forester of a study on the impact of protection intact forests and ultimately improving economic knowledge associated with all industrial sector for the regions of Quebec.
Jean-Pierre Boivin, Boreal Forest Alliance
The prefect of the Maria-Chapdelaine RCM and representative of Alliance boreal forest, Jean-Pierre Boivin, welcomes the results of the study by Gilles Bergeron and Nancy Gélinas professors confirm the significant risks associated with a reduction in allowable for the region and specifically for forest communities of Lac-Saint-Jean.
“We needed to know the regional picture. This time it is independent researchers. They have no connection to government, Resolved or environmental groups. They are credible figures that are on the table and demonstrate that we were right to worry, “the prefect who was among the first to know the results of the study.
He recalled that the two elements measured by the researchers do not form a complete picture of the challenges the industry faces. The entire portrait in his merit that we take very seriously the recommendations of the authors. “The impacts of FSC and protected area policies are now well quantified for the region. One must add the unknown resulting from the surcharge on the supercalendered paper that costs $ 30 million per year for two plants of the region. We will also go through another negotiation on softwood lumber, “said the Prefect.
We can always discuss the job ratios and other details, he added, but can no longer deny the evidence that there be a high price to pay for a reduction in the regional forest potential.
The President of the Council of Quebec Forest Industry (CIFQ), André Tremblay, judge the results of the study Gélinas Bergeron and allow the body he heads to maintain its historical claims about the allowable cut.
“For our members, it is not about to accept further reductions in allowable. The figures confirm that these reductions have a significant impact on employment and the economy, “he said at the outset.
Once this position is recalled, André Tremblay considers relevant to work to develop ways that will help to support the allowable at the current level. “We direct demonstration of the consequences it will take if we are not able to maintain our allowable. ”
As the Prefect Jean-Pierre Boivin, André Tremblay says that we can have different opinions on the ratios used to assess the employment and economic losses. It appears nevertheless that these losses are significant for Quebec and more specifically the region.
The latter was annoyed by the title of the press release, Sustainable Forestry, an important challenge for the development of the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. André Tremblay reminded the authors of the study that the law which governs forestry operations is called the Sustainable Planning Act forests …
Laurent Lessard, Minister of Forestry, Wildlife and Parks
The Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, Laurent Lessard, describes as “interesting perspective” report released Wednesday on the assessment of impacts of different government policies and FSC requirements for environmental protection in terms of the allowable.
For the minister, the fact that the report focuses on one region gives it a novelty. The publication of this study now opens the door to a series of decisions of the Government of Quebec to meet international obligations for the network of protected areas and protection of woodland caribou.
“This report confirms that the government is on the right track and that our discussions with the certification body can only increase understanding of forest reality of Quebec. We have already taken steps in the direction of some of these recommendations and we intend to announce others, including the forthcoming publication of an action plan for the protection of woodland caribou and support innovation for that forest companies are better able to respond to new market needs, “said the minister.
This statement gives a good indication of the strong possibility that the Quebec government has within its budget Thursday an important part in the Quebec forestry sector.