Sun. Feb 25th, 2024

Drop in the timber harvest: “It’s worrying for all of Quebec”

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The reduction in wood harvesting demanded by the Chief Forester risks harming communities, according to several elected officials. (Archive photo)

  • Jean-Michel Cotnoir (View profile)Jean-Michel Cotnoir

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The reduction in wood harvesting required by Quebec's Chief Forester following last summer's historic forest fires will hurt communities whose economies depend on the forestry industry.

This is what several elected officials from Nord-du-Québec and Abitibi-Témiscamingue say, who fear the repercussions of harvest limitations on wood processing plants , real economic lungs for many municipalities.

The impact could be major on our factories. We are talking about 521,000 cubic meters of wood less per year. In Northern Quebec, in our towns, whether Chapais, Chibougamau, Quévillon or Matagami, we each have a factory that stands out. In some ways, it’s scary, says the mayor of Matagami, René Dubé.

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The Nordic Kraft factory at Chantiers Chibougamau , in Lebel-sur-Quévillon. (File photo)

According to the mayor of Lebel-sur-Quévillon, Guy Lafrenière, the impacts of reduced harvests will not be limited to forest regions.

This is worrying for all of Nord-du-Québec, but more than that, it is worrying for all of Quebec. All the wood that will no longer be cut, you will see that in two years, it will hurt all Quebecers, he predicts.

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In Senneterre, mayor Nathalie-Ann Pelchat also says she is concerned about the consequences for factory, but she adds that it is too early to comment on possible job losses.

Being a single-industrial city, we work hard to diversify our economy, but the fact remains that it is part of our history, the forestry industry. It is certainly very worrying to see what the impacts will be on our factory here in Senneterre.

A quote from Nathalie-Ann Pelchat, mayor of Senneterre

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The mayor of Senneterre, Nathalie-Ann Pelchat. (File photo)

In Matagami, Mayor Dubé is scheduled to meet sawmill managers next week. In addition to the local factory, he says he is concerned about the future of the Nordic Kraft factory in Lebel-sur-Quévillon.

In the region, Nordic Kraft is investing large sums of money. The factory, when it took off, gave oxygen to our sawing factory because of the shavings they came to collect. How will our factories in the North react? Nordic Kraft, what will happen? We have a lot of questions and few answers for the moment, says Mr. Dubé.

Regarding the Nordic Kraft factory in Lebel-sur-Quévillon, Mayor Lafrenière says he had a reassuring discussion with the general director of Chantiers Chibougamau, Frédéric Verreault.

He at least reassured me that in the short and medium term, there won't be any real problems with the wood chips at the pulp and paper mill, because the burned wood will be able to be harvested and made chips with for more or less five or six years, he specifies.

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The mayor of Matagami, René Dubé. (File photo)

Still in Lebel-sur-Quévillon, Guy Lafrenière maintains that the forestry unit affected by the huge forest fire 344 will see 95% of its cutting possibilities cut off. He believes that the amounts already announced by the government for reforestation are insufficient.

We have announced several million for reforestation, but it is probably five or ten times more than that that we will need. We may not be able to do everything, but I hope that we will give a big boost in 2024 to the sector and continue for the next three or four years, he hopes.

The disaster has arrived, there is no point in going back, we have to look for tomorrow. What do we have to do? We must plant, reforest our forests now, not wait five years. We must immediately look to the future and reforest immediately.

A quote from Guy Lafrenière, mayor of Lebel-sur-Quévillon

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The mayor of Lebel-sur-Quévillon, Guy Lafrenière. (Archive photo)

Like Mr. Lafrenière, René Dubé affirms that there is an urgent need to act.

If there is a special situation that happened for the fire, it takes a special situation for the reforestation. We need to implement an aggressive way of reforesting in order to speed up the process, he says.

For her part, the president of the Abitibi-Témiscamingue Forestry Association, Marie-Ève ​​Sigouin, is of the opinion that forestry practices are called to change in the near future.

This is a first evaluation, there are still many steps to be done and they will refine the calculations. This gives us a first signal that we will have to innovate in the way we manage the forest and transform it, she observes.

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