The conservation forest
For the primary purpose of conservation, we set aside 23 per cent of the lands under Irving management across the landscape. With our 80- year management planning process, the locations of the conservation forest may shift over time as the forest naturally evolves, but the proportion of the forest in conservation will still be maintained. Our forest conservation areas include deer wintering areas, wetland and watercourse buffers, old forest habitats, and conserved natural areas.
To provide for species dependent on old forest, we maintain at least 10 per cent of the forest as ‘old’ and 3 per cent as ‘very old’ across softwood, hardwood, and mixed forest types. In New Brunswick, our forest lands are shared with provincial Protected Natural Areas (PNAs). We actively link our conservation lands with provincial PNAs to create connectivity for wildlife and plants.
Harvesting may occur, but only if harvesting can improve conservation outcomes. The conservation forest area may not always remain in a fixed location on the ground, rather it is designed to shift to other areas of the landscape over time, so that the conservation values we intend to promote exist across the landscape, even as the forest naturally changes.
MANAGING THE LAND FOR WHITETAILED DEER
Deer wintering areas (DWA) ensure large areas of softwoods are available for whitetail deer. In northern areas, large amounts of snow limit whitetail deer populations. Maintaining older softwood forests helps reduce the snow depth creating shelter to help whitetail deer survive harsh winters. Harvesting may occur in DWAs only if it promotes conservation outcomes, like providing a food source near the winter shelter. As older softwoods eventually succumb to natural mortality and are replaced by young forests, they no longer provide winter habitat for whitetail deer. Our foresters plan for the immature areas to eventually become new DWAs and replace today’s DWAs.