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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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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Fredericton, N.B., Canada October 31, 2008
In the aftermath of the so-called “froggy carnage”, The Friends of the UNB Woodlot will put several hundred popsicle-stick white crosses along a section of Knowledge Park Drive near the Corbett Centre retail complex.  Each cross will remember the needless death of these small wetland frogs on the night of October 26th. This will take place next Monday (Nov. 3, 2008) at 1:00 PM.
Frogs are key indicator species of the health of our wetlands, and biodiversity in general.  With our changing climate, these creatures truly serve as our “canary in the coalmine”.  Also, their body contains anti-cancer chemicals which are attracting great excitement in the field of cancer research.
The Friends of the UNB Woodlot is sending letters to the University of New Brunswick, City of Fredericton, and the major retail stores at, or coming to, the Corbett Centre.  The retail stores include Winners, Home Depot, and Costco.  These letters request their immediate attention to the construction of an amphibian culvert that will allow these animals to pass underneath Knowledge Park Drive as they migrate between wetlands.
Dr. Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy of the The Friends of the UNB Woodlot, points out that,  “This highlights the need for COMPLETE surveys of animal and plant species in the UNB Woodlot as well as a comprehensive environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the ENTIRE  3800 acres of this urban forested wetland. The fact that UNB has taken a piecemeal approach to EIAs to date, and that roads are studied separate from development on that road, must stop.  The entire development strategy for the Woodlot must be assessed under a comprehensive EIA.  As demonstrated by the recent “froggy carnage”, the Woodlot’s animals and plants are paying the price for this archaic, non-sustainable approach to land use planning.”
An amphibian underpass is required before the spring season next year.  This underpass should also be able to handle the other aquatic wildlife that are common to these wetland areas.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Charlene Mayes and Caroline Lubbe-D’Arcy, Spokespersons, The Friends of the UNB Woodlot
Telephone: 1-506-447-3442 (Charlene)
Telephone: 1-506-454-1230 (Caroline)
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THE FRIENDS OF THE UNB WOODLOT
Facebook: “I don’t want the UNB woodlot turned into Big-Box Strip Malls”
YouTube: search for “UNB Woodlot”
Telephone: 1-506-454-5119

Caroline Lubbe – D’Arcy
379 Northumberland Street
Fredericton, NB
(506)454-5119

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July 17th, 2008
As a UNB alumnus, I’m embarrassed.
In a time of environmental crisis and despite being a public institute in a province whose public believes environmental concerns trump economic ones, UNB’s board of governors has approved a plan to parcel off 50 per cent (over 1,500 acres) of the UNB woodlot.
This is so that an ecosystem which includes numerous wetlands and is home to threatened species, such as the blue heron, can be developed over the coming years.
For an institute of higher learning, one would think this would be shameful enough; however, upon further inspection of these plans, something even more insidious is revealed.
By disclosing development plans in a piecemeal fashion (so far for about 270 acres), UNB can take advantage of a government loophole and evade a comprehensive environmental impact assessment.
Such an assessment would be risky as it would likely reveal what any biologist can attest – an ecosystem’s individual elements are interdependent and cannot be understood or evaluated separately. If you destroy part of such a system, you run the risk of compromising it all.
So subjected to only limited environmental impact assessments, UNB, like a landlord who slaps a coat of paint over rotting wood, can effectively – at least in the short term – conceal any evidence there may be of a collapsing ecosystem.
Ironically, an institute which assesses thousands of people every year seemingly believes itself above assessment. It’s time for UNB’s administrators to conduct themselves in a manner that truly reflects UNB’s mission statement, code of conduct and slogan.
By hawking off the woodlot for non-sustainable, 1970s style development, without any regard for the health of an entire ecosystem, they are active participants in exactly what researchers in their own institute, and indeed universities across the world, are working so hard to put an end to.
Carla Gunn
Fredericton

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Frog in the UNB Woodlot

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