The forest fire was approaching the Nordic Kraft factory in Lebel-sur-Quévillon.
Times are tough for forestry companies. Part of their livelihood is going up in smoke with the forest fires raging across Quebec. They must also combine with the deployment of the forest-dwelling caribou recovery strategy, which will be tabled in June, when a good part of the wood that was to be cut by the industry this year has already been taken away from it by the government.
All forestry operations are currently stopped in Quebec while the flammability index remains extreme and the priority is to fight forest fires.
But the forest industry is wondering what will be left to supply its factories after all this commotion because of the huge areas affected by fires.
When we look in Quebec as a whole, it is very worrying. What will happen with the allowable cut with so many hectares currently burning? It is very, very, very worrying for the future, worried Claude Dupuis, general manager of the forestry cooperative Groupe Forestra.
In addition to the hectares that are burning, forestry facilities have been threatened. During the night from Friday to Saturday, the forest fire came dangerously close to the Nordic Kraft pulp mill of Chantiers Chibougamau located in Lebel-sur-Quévillon, this municipality in Nord-du-Québec evacuated from ;emergency Friday evening.
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There is a core of a few people who remained on site in an absolutely coordinated manner with Public Security to support the intervention around the plant to secure it, to reduce the risks that were linked, said Frédéric Verreault, Executive Director of Corporate Development for Chantiers de Chibougamau, in an interview with Place publique.
Furthermore, another puzzle head is added for Chantiers Chibougamau.
The company has received the government's directive not to carry out the cuts planned for this summer in sectors that will be at the heart of the strategy to save the caribou. This strategy is due to be unveiled in June, but the government has decided to act preemptively to protect the habitat of this endangered species.
Yet the permits for cut had been issued by Quebec just a few weeks ago and the forest roads have already been built.
This information was first revealed by Le Quotidien. SAccording to what we have been able to learn, it would be very badly seen that harvesters are already cutting in key sectors when the strategy is announced.
A woodland caribou.
For Chantiers Chibougamau, this last minute change represents 2,000 trucks loaded with wood to find elsewhere.
It is estimated, with the preliminary information that we have had for ten days, that it is 80,000 cubic meters that were planned to be harvested in 2023 that will not be. These sectors are immediately withdrawn from any planning. Obviously, 80,000 cubic meters is quite a lot of wood, it is wood for more than a month of activity at the plant. So since we have the information we are on the drawing board to try to see if there are solutions, alternatives, spread Frédéric Verreault, during a second interview.
However, the situation is different for the Groupe Forestra cooperative in Laterrière, which was to cut in the Pipmuacan reservoir sector this year.
At this location, the Innus of Pessamit have been calling for a protected area since 2019, because it is caribou hotspot.
The Minister of the Environment has promised to create one with the caribou strategy, but without announcing an area.
Claude Dupuis is the general manager of the forestry cooperative Groupe Forestra.
So even if Forestra has all the authorizations to harvest and has invested in a forest camp and to build forest roads in a difficult to access sector, the cooperative has decided to back down, to withdraw from the sector. in 2023-2024, so as not to make matters worse.
We decided to withdraw from these sectors this spring following all the pressure there was. The government and the natives were told, “Settle your things, talk yourselves.” We don't want to add fuel to the fire, as they say, so we'll give the runner a chance. We will not play in these sectors, explained Claude Dupuis. We requested authorizations for new sectors which were authorized to us, so we moved our operations to new sectors.
Forestra therefore moved its operations to the Laurentides wildlife reserve , without knowing that there would also be Aboriginal claims.
Members of the Collectif Mashk Assi blocked a forest road in the Laurentides wildlife reserve last Tuesday.
Recall that last week, a group made up of Innu who wanted to prevent the #x27;logging on parts of Nitassinan, the Collectif Mashk Assi, sent eviction notices to logging companies before blocking a logging road in the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve.
However, there is no question of backing down on this side for Forestra.
At some point, if people want lumber, you have to be able to cut somewhere, launched Claude Dupuis.
In contrast, the general manager of Groupe Lignarex, Éric Rousseau, said he was open to negotiating with the group, which had claims on the territory. The company had ceased its operations in the Pikauba River sector due to the blockade.
Both on the side of Chantiers Chibougamau and Forestra, compensation will be requested from the government for the costs generated by this mess since it is Quebec's forest planning that is in question. The two companies both say they are concerned about the future of woodland caribou and say they are continuing the dialogue to find solutions.
According to a report by Priscilla Plamondon Lalancette and with information from Marie-Michèle Bourassa