St. John River: Fir Trade
Forests are vital to New Brunswick's economy
The Acadian Forest has always been a sustaining force of economic life in New
Brunswick. Only 15 percent of the province is unforested. But very little of the
forest is original growth. Most of it has been logged at one time or another.
Only the tallest, straightest white pines were used for the masts of the sailing ships built
along the Saint John river in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today the forest provides products
ranging from hardwood floors, fine furniture and high quality paper to maple syrup products
and Christmas trees. Nearly 12,000 New Brunswickers are employed in forest-related industries.
New Brunswick forests have 32 native species of trees. Softwoods, used for construction
and papermaking, include white pine, spruce, fir and cedar. Hardwood species, used for furniture
and flooring, include birch, maple, oak, and butternut.
With the decline in the shipbuilding industry and the timber trade towards the end of the
19th century, the focus of the forest industry gradually shifted from the production of lumber
to the production of pulp and paper. The rise of pulp and paper mills also spurred the development
Most pulp and paper mills export their products to the United States and other countries.
Efforts are being made by laboratory scientists in the pulp and paper industry to reduce
pollution almost completely and to use forest resources more efficiently. Wood chips, second-grade
lumber, and other wood by-products from sawmills now provide much of the fibre that is used
to make pulp and paper.
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