Our Approach and Commitment to Improve Sustainable Forest Management on JDI Owned Woodlands

March 21, 2014:  J. D. Irving, Limited has decades of commitment to sustainable forest management. Over time, these efforts have grown to include research and conservation of a broader range of plants, animals and whole forest communities at different scales - from individual forest stands up to large landscapes. The complexity is enormous – ensuring healthy, diverse forest ecosystems as well as jobs for New Brunswickers.

Our commitment often requires research into the basic understanding of forests and how our activities affect plants and animals over the landscape and well into the future. The company’s approach to research and development (R&D) is through collaboration with many groups including federal and provincial governments, universities and industry to answer important forest science questions. The company established a voluntary Forest Research Advisory Committee (FRAC) in 1998 by inviting a number of recognized scientists from across a range of forest science fields to join the group. The FRAC’s goal is to help the company evaluate and improve our forest management practices regarding biodiversity on our private land – especially focusing on areas where intensive management has been practiced. These research commitments have involved significant investments in research efforts since 1998. Research results are published in respected journals. Dozens of graduate students under a range of university professors have been involved in this research. JDI and a number of research partners have made substantial efforts communicating science related to sustainable forest management to a wide range of audiences, from our own employees to the general public. We consider this critical to help the understanding of the many issues facing forest managers.

Research results must be transferred into best practices if the value is to be realized in sustainable forest management. This is complex because many results must be integrated. Some plants and animals respond differently to forest management actions – some positive, some negative. This is why forests of different types and ages are required across the landscape all the time. JDI historical forest information and detailed computerized geographic information (GIS) is critical to understand forest change including habitats for a range of plants and animals over the long-term. Initial research activities in the FRAC included looking at how the forest in our Black Brook forest district in northwestern New Brunswick has evolved since 1946 and how it will develop into the future. JDI also employs specialists, including a fish and wildlife biologist and naturalist to work with our professional forestry staff to help implement changes based on research results. Some specific examples of how research and development has informed and changed our forest operations are listed below:

  • The JDI voluntary Unique Areas program identifies over 1150 sites on the ground for a total of 68,177 hectares in New Brunswick which are managed for very specific conservation values.
  • Policies and practices related to maintaining old and very old forest for all of our freehold lands have been implemented.
  • Best Management Practices (BMP’s) have been modified to retain very old and wildlife habitat trees in our operations.
  • Biodiversity requirements including uncut patches are incorporated into forest openings greater than 10 hectares.
  • Rare plant predictive tools are used to train operating personnel and screen where rare plants might occur prior to harvest operations.
  • Computer models are used in forest planning to evaluate potential impacts such as future spruce budworm infestations or forest fires.
  • Our carbon footprint is tracked in our long-term forest management planning.
  • In New Brunswick, 44,000 hectares of JDI private land is managed for deer wintering areas.
  • Many years of Atlantic salmon and Sea-run Brook trout monitoring and fish habitat studies have been conducted to help ensure healthy fish populations.

These examples represent important science based elements of sustainable forest management of which the company is proud. The commitments we make go well beyond a sole focus on the bottom line. Several research documents are available on our JDI website including an overview of research and how it is implemented entitled Legacy of the Sustainable Forest Management Network – Outcomes of Research Collaborations Among J.D. Irving, Limited, University of New Brunswick and Université de Moncton. We welcome your feedback. 

Greg Adams, RPFNB
Manager, Research and Development

John Gilbert
Manager, Fish & Wildlife, Woodlands

Kelly Honeyman
Naturalist, Woodlands

Click  here for a summary of our research and development partners, projects, and students.