December 14, 2000
(Forest Resources and Agrifoods)
The following statement was issued today by Kevin Aylward, Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods. It was also read in the House of Assembly:
I would like to provide an update to the Members of the House of Assembly concerning the Christmas tree and wreath industries. These industries are in the early stages of development and it is a long-term venture very similar to the orchard industry. There are approximately 3,000 locally cultivated trees on the market this year. The cultivated tree industry consists of approximately 25 growers throughout the province.
In addition the Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods provides permits for a "wild harvest". These are the trees that you will find for sale in tree lots throughout the province. There are approximately 26 cutting permits allocated up to this date.
Government believes there is economic potential for this industry. It is estimated that approximately 17,000 trees are imported annually from Atlantic Canada for an approximate value of $400,000. In 1998, government formulated policy with respect to the development of the Christmas tree industry. Over the past two years, training workshops have been held across the province to encourage and provide technical assistance to potential growers.
In 1998 in addition to local sales there were approximately 10,000 wreaths exported to mainland markets. In the fall of 1998, two pilot projects were initiated to explore the wreath industry. There were many positive results from these projects and accordingly there has been a lot of interest generated throughout the province. Export and local sales increased significantly in 1999, as interest continues to grow in this sector. The forecast for 2000 is encouraging with an increase in the number of producers and continued product diversification.
The wreath industry has the potential to create considerable seasonal employment with respect to the harvesting of balsam fir tips and the tying of the wreaths. In New Brunswick, this industry offers employment to approximately 2,500 seasonal workers.
Christmas tree and wreath farming is labour intensive and requires limited capital investment, which is the type of venture that can be especially attractive to rural areas where unemployment rates are higher and new business opportunities requiring limited investment are rare.
Newfoundland and Labrador has an abundance of balsam fir which is the species of choice in the wreath industry. The removal of tips for wreath production, if done in the correct manner, has no measurable effect on the production of wood fibre that would raise concerns for other forest industries. Departmental staff are confident that this industry will prosper over the next few years and provide much need employment, especially in rural areas.
I encourage all Members of the House of Assembly and fellow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to buy local Christmas trees and wreaths and I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
2000 12 14 1:50 p.m.