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Ottawa promised Canadians two billion new trees, Quebec wants to cut some down

A water bomber flies toward a major field and forest fire at Lambert Peat moss fields in Riviere-Ouelle, Que., Friday, June 19, 2020. The fire spread over more than 10 km, pushed by strong winds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
A water bomber flies toward a major field and forest fire at Lambert Peat moss fields in Riviere-Ouelle, Que., Friday, June 19, 2020. The fire spread over more than 10 km, pushed by strong winds. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
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The federal government committed to planting two billion trees across the country to restore natural habitats and fight climate change, and now Quebec wants to harvest some of them.

The provincial government is asking Ottawa to allow the local forestry industry to chop down trees in areas of the province hardest hit by last year's forest fires.

Ottawa has committed more than $3 billion to helping provinces, territories and organizations plant two billion trees by the end of 2031 as part of a national effort to reduce greenhouse gases.

However, the 2 Billion Trees program does not fund trees designated for commercial use.

Quebec Natural Resources and Forests Minister Maïté Blanchette Vézina says the record-setting 2023 fire season has had tremendous economic impacts in rural regions that depend on the forestry industry.

She sent a letter Thursday to her federal counterpart, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, asking Ottawa to allow the trees to be harvested and used to produce green building materials.

Vézina says the fires destroyed 1.1 million hectares of forest in the southern half of the province, and her letter is co-signed by more than 100 Quebec municipalities and forestry industry associations and unions.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2024. 

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