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Archive for the ‘Forest Research’ Category

March 4, 2009

To: President John McLaughlin, University of New Brunswick
Stephen Strople, UNB Board of Governors
Roland Haché, Minister of Environment
Fredericton City Council
Media

The UNB Woodlot, located on unceded Wulustuk land, is over 3,500 acres of woods, wetlands and wildlife, home to mature forest, herons and lady slippers.

Many residents of Fredericton enjoy the Woodlot as a place of recreation and refuge from the increasing proliferation of concrete, asphalt, litter, light, noise and visual pollution. How many cities can boast a wild area of its size in its city limits? Many people value the UNB Woodlot for its trails.

The development of the UNB Woodlot, replacing forest and wetland for big box stores, is unthinkable in today’s knowledge of the conservation importance of such natural gems. Today, we are deeply concerned about the proposed Costco development that will adversely impact a wetland.

The UNB Woodlot is used by students and UNB Faculty as an important natural research lab for fish ecology, forestry and other studies.

Urban forest such as the UNB Woodlot reduce air pollutants and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is a key factor in mitigating climate change.

Rain capture by the UNB Woodlot supplies the headwaters and tributaries of Corbett Brook, Phyllis Creek, Garden Creek and Baker Brook watersheds, and smaller watercourses that flow through Fredericton and towards New Maryland. The forested wetlands of the UNB Woodlot contribute to our aquifer – the sole drinking water supply for the City of Fredericton – and act as a giant sponge during severe rain events by retaining water and slowly releasing water to surrounding forests and aquifers that supply our drinking wells.

UNB’s land endowment plan in its current form will result in irreversible adverse changes in the ecological goods and services provided by the UNB Woodlot to the City of Fredericton.

We feel there has been inadequate public engagement on the proposed developments in the UNB Woodlot.

We call upon the Board of Governors of the University of New Brunswick to immediately put into place a moratorium on all development in the UNB Woodlot until there is a time for adequate public engagement on the issue. We call on the university to engage the community, including First Nations, conservation groups, forest and wetland ecologists, users of the UNB Woodlot as well as the wider community in any future proposals for the UNB Woodlot.

Sincerely,

Tracy Glynn and Julie Michaud,
Fredericton Chapter of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick
180 St. John St.,
Fredericton, NB
E3B 4A9
Tel: 506 458-8747
Email: forest@conservationcouncil.ca

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March 10th, 2009
By GRAHAM FORBES, For The Daily Gleaner
To some, the University of New Brunswick woodlot represents recreation, green space, quality of life and ecological services.
Photo: REPLACING TREES: New stores at the Corbett Centre can be seen past the trees from the UNB woodlot. While some want development and others want preservation, writer Graham Forbes points out that what UNB teaches in many of its courses is contrary to its decisions on its woodlot.
To others, it represents jobs, housing, tax revenue and opportunities to shop.
The first group wants more protected, the latter, more developed. My point is not so much to debate the percentage developed, but, if development is to occur, to illustrate a better way to develop.
The Feb. 12 information session on proposed changes to a wetland promotes the removal of a wetland (already approved by government) that would retain run-off but also some natural forest and ecological function. It would be replaced with two bathtub-like holding ponds for runoff.
Apparently, the approved wetland needs to be removed simply because Costco stores have pre-determined dimensions and parking areas, and they want the store sign to face the entrance of the road.
I offer that this proposal is another case of poor environmental management by UNB. Two years ago, UNB cleared forest for the Home Depot area. The woodlot development plan has 80-metre buffers on waterways, but, in this first evidence of how UNB develops, the forested corridor oddly becomes 30 metres, the minimum required by provincial regulation.
A road was pushed through a wetland, the site where traffic caused significant frog mortality in fall 2008. A 30-metre buffer on a wetland was clear cut, without a permit, and UNB was forced to mitigate the violation, which they did by replanting trees in the buffer.
Recently, UNB clearcut three lines for geotechnical work, each about four metres wide into this wetland. Was there government approval to impact this wetland? A large wetland was found where the new hockey rinks near Kimble Drive were to be built. The wetland was not in the original environmental impact assessment and would have been destroyed; the hockey rink layout had to be changed at considerable expense and delay.
The water detention pond at the Kimble Road end of the woodlot breached twice and dumped extensive sediment into Corbett Brook. These are not shining examples of sustainable development.
I note that the loss of populations of animals and plants will have no impact on these species. They are not rare, they are found in many places.
The loss is at the scale of Fredericton. People in Fredericton want clean water and natural features, and they want nature close to where they live and work. One would hope we do not have to keep sacrificing natural areas so that a single box-store can have its store sign seen as you drive in.
I am not so naive to believe my values or advice drive the actions of the university. I do, however, question a troubling hypocrisy.
If UNB promotes sustainable management, sustainable development, wildlife management, environmental planning, environmental economics, and corporate citizenship, it would seem we could expect more of that teaching be put into practice.
By my count UNB has over 20 relevant courses in virtually every discipline, from engineering, forestry, biology, to economics and sociology. We have at least 25 professors who research, write about and work in these areas. If a university cannot promote supposed new-and-improved methods, a better balance between development and conservation, then who can?
The woodlot should be a showcase of what is possible, not an example of the status quo, of flat-earth planning or of removing wetlands so a big-box store can fit its predetermined shape.
Graham Forbes, PhD, is the director of the New Brunswick Co-operative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management and Faculty of Science at the University of New Brunswick.

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Re: Commercial development of Corbett Centre

This letter was sent to David Stevenson, chair of the UNB Board of Governors.

A fellow forestry graduate just provided me with information about the plan by the University of New Brunswick to allow commercial development of about half of the UNB Woodlot.

What a travesty.

The original grant was for the “sole proper use of the College of New Brunswick.”

Surely “sole proper use” refers to the intellectual enlightenment of faculty and students, which by no stretch of the imagination can be defined as the establishment of big box retail outlets and related peripheral stores.

To suggest that the issuance of a 99 year lease retains ownership may be correct legally, but must be considered morally indefensible. Our grandchildren won’t live to see the end of the lease.

In the early 1960s when I was assessing the three English-speaking forestry schools in Canada, I chose the University of New Brunswick principally because of the UNB Woodlot, for its proximity – within walking distance, and size – large enough to be considered ecologically ‘working.’

You will note that I was and am from Saskatchewan, and at that time, travel distances were an issue – and both the University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto were closer to my home.

Even so, I chose UNB and earned a Bachelor of Science in Forestry degree in 1966. A sterling choice, made because of the UNB Woodlot and which led to a career in forest inventory of which I am proud.

Although construction to date would be very difficult to reverse, including the Home Depot store and that dreadful highway that destroyed the wildlife corridors, surely the madness can stop.

New Brunswick is not short of land for such commercial and public developments. The UNB Woodlot must be kept sacrosanct from avarice.

James Benson, BScF 1966
Prince Albert, Sask.

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