ST. JOHN'S, N.L. -- The Newfoundland and Labrador government says more forest cover will be removed from the land in Labrador that will be flooded as part of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project.

The province issued a statement today saying the additional cutting is aimed at addressing concerns of critics who say the water will be contaminated with methylmercury if the trees are left to rot at the bottom of the planned 41-square-kilometre reservoir.

Earlier this week, plans to start the flooding at the site west of Happy Valley-Goose Bay sparked protests and a number of arrests.

Provincial Environment Minister Perry Trimper says the province is working with aboriginal governments in Labrador to improve oversight for the project.

He says the province is committed to setting up a new water-quality monitoring program and an independent expert advisory committee.

As well, Trimper says the province has told Crown-owned Nalcor Energy that it must pay for a study to be conducted by Dr. Elsie Sunderland at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.

"The provincial government has taken the concerns expressed by the Innu Nation, the Nunatsiavut Government, and the NunatuKavut Community Council very seriously," Trimper said in a statement.

"We are taking action that clearly demonstrates our commitment to enhance measures which ensure we are best positioned to protect human health."