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Increase in notches in public forests | Maple syrup producers boil



Rise of sap among maple syrup producers. Maple producers can no longer wait for Quebec to unveil its plan to control the increase in tapping in public forests.

“We’ve been keeping producers from demonstrating on Parliament Hill for two years over this issue. There, I have no more arguments to retain the producers,” lamented the president of the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (PPAQ), Luc Goulet, in an interview with The Press.

Led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forests (MRNF), a “master plan” for the development of maple syrup production was the subject of public consultations in July 2022. Its primary objective is to create, within the forest Quebec public, a bank of areas “with maple potential” to be prioritized for the future commercial production of maple products.

In fact, it will also have the effect of protecting sugar maple trees that grow on public lands from logging intended for the lumber industry.

As the first flows begin, it is not just the maple sap evaporators that have begun to boil. “Producers are losing confidence. We have a loss of confidence in the Ministry,” regrets Mr. Goulet.

Earlier this week, the agricultural union which represents the 13,300 maple syrup producers in the province sent a letter to Minister Maïté Blanchette Vézina to denounce the inertia of the government with whom he says he has been in discussion on the subject since the fall of 2021.

In the long term, the PPAQ are calling for the protection of 200,000 hectares.

“There is someone who decided to wait before depositing [le plan directeur] because he thinks it’s going to cause a stir among foresters,” said Mr. Goulet. “You have to understand that we, the maple trees, want to grow them and we want to keep them standing. In terms of land protection, that’s exactly what the population wants. We preserve the resource and we exploit it”, he underlines.

Support from the municipal world

The PPAQ claim to now have the support of 272 municipalities and 20 RCMs in favor of a better sharing of public forests.

The municipal councils of these towns and villages have recently adopted resolutions that support producers in their representations before the MRNF.

The master plan “is in its final phase within the ministry”, assures Flore Bouchon, the press secretary for Minister Blanchette Vézina. “He is about to be presented to the minister,” she wrote in an email.

“The harmonization of uses is an essential issue when it comes to public forests. That’s why you have to take the time to do it right,” she added.

“Are they completely rewriting the master plan? “, wonders, however, Mr. Goulet. “We are assured that it is not that, but on the one hand, we know the lobby of the forest industry, how strong it can be in Quebec. »

Protect 200,000 hectares

Forests cover more than half of Quebec’s territory, with 900,000 km2. Nearly 92% of this territory is public. The maple producers would like 200,000 hectares to be protected in the long term.

“In the short term, we have been given 24,000 hectares that have been mapped in Quebec, but that’s not enough,” says Goulet.

To meet the ever-increasing demand for maple syrup, producers project that Quebec will need 168 million taps by 2080, if the industry is to meet an annual increase in production of about 5, 8%.

Maple producers would like 30% of these new taps, or 36 million, to be made in public forests.

By way of comparison, in 2022, the MRNF identified 1,164 sugar bushes in public forests, which represents 39,476 hectares and more than 9 million taps.

As for private forests, there were, during the same period, 6,502 sugar bushes in production in private forests, which represents more than 40 million taps. By calculating 150 to 200 taps per hectare, Quebec estimates that commercial sugar bushes in private forests total an area of ​​200,000 to 267,000 hectares.

“Currently, the MRNF has a sufficient bank of hectares to support the PPAQs in the event that they decide to issue new quotas between now and the opening of their next season. There is therefore no issue at this level. Especially since the PPAQ still have 50% of the hectares that the MRNF granted them in 2021. According to the information we have, they have not yet been put into production,” said Cork.

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