Medway Community Forest Co-op offering informative webinar series June 9 to July 1, 29May2020

Posted May 27, 2020, on Medway Community Forest Co-op Facebook Page:

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Nova Scotia Supreme Court rules in favour of Naturalists/East Coast Environmental Law versus NS Lands & Forestry 29May2020

Today’s decision confirms that Nova Scotia’s ESA is the law, and not a set of vague or voluntary guidelines. The Minister is required to fulfill the law’s mandatory requirements to protect some of the province’s most vulnerable species. Sarah McDonald, Ecojustice lawyer

Ram’s Head orchid

From the Background to Supreme Court Decision (May 29, 2020)

The Minister of Lands and Forestry (the Minister) is responsible for implementing the ESA [Endangered Species Act]. The Applicants say the Minister has failed to implement the ESA as it pertains to six representative species: Mainland Moose, Ram’s-head Lady Slipper, Canada Warbler, Black Ash, Wood Turtle, and Eastern Wood Pewee. Each of these species is native to Nova Scotia and is listed as endangered, threatened, or vulnerable under the ESA. The Applicants [Robert Bancroft, Federation of Nova Scotia Naturalists, Blomidon Naturalists Society and The Halifax Field Naturalists with East Coast Environmental Law Association as Intervenor] seek a declaration that the Minister’s failure to implement the ESA, specifically section 15, is unlawful and unreasonable; an order of mandamus; and a supervisory order by which the court would retain jurisdiction and require the Minister to produce status reports on the implementation of section 15.

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Nesting season in full swing and still no “Silent Season” for forestry in Nova Scotia 26May2020

Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of the Maritimes Provinces “This Atlas is the single most comprehensive, up-to-date information source on the status of Maritimes breeding birds. More than 260,000 records of 222 species are included in the database, including more than 8,700 records of 17 species at risk. Produced as a beautifully-illustrated hard-cover book, the Atlas is complemented by a comprehensive website where maps, results and much else are accessible online.”

UPDATE May 29, 2020:
IT’S HIGH TIME FOR A SILENT SEASON IN NOVA SCOTIA
Bev Wigney on Annapolis Royal & Area – Environment & Ecology (Public Facebook Page) May 29, 2020. Bev Wigney asks people to write MLAs. View her post here if you do not have access to Facebook
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It’s one more year since naturalists raised alarms about logging during nesting season in Nova Scotia, one more year since the Lahey Report was submitted (Aug 2018), one more year since Lands & Forestry posted their initial response to the Lahey report (Dec 3, 2018; not counting their false start earlier), one more year while we await the full response and one more year of harvesting on Crown land going on as usual, even with closure of The Mill and with the economic downturn associated with Covid-19; and it’s 10 years since the Natural Resources Strategy was tabled and the government promised fundamantal change in forestry practices in NS.

Bev Wigney of the Annapolis Royal & Area – Environment & Ecology (Public Facebook Group), one of those raising those raising the alarms in 2019, again brings the topic up on Annapolis Royal & Area – Environment & Ecology in relation to the current rash of forest fires, some of them started by logging activities.

Says BW in a post on May 26, 2020 directed to Minister of Lands & Forestry Iain Rankin:

We now know that the Springfield fire was started by malfunctioning logging equipment…Our VFDs [Volunteer Fire Departments] have been busy responding to 7 wildfires in just 2 or 3 days. This is really not right that VFDs are having to do wildfire fighting — especially if it is being caused by logging activities. It’s time to get the loggers OUT of the forests — right away — before any of our VFD people are injured or worse.

This is a GOOD TIME to do so as the migratory bird nesting season is in full swing and there shouldn’t be anyone cutting down forest right now anyhow. This is Silent Season for any of the more reputable logging operations who actually care about wildlife. Will you do the right thing and shut down forestry until such time as it is actually appropriate for work to be carried out?

Thx BW. A legislated Silent Season is long overdue.

View some related posts on NSFN



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Experiencing serenity and sadness in the intervale forests of Nova Scotia 16May2020

I went with a friend for for a walk yesterday in some intervale (floodplain) forests in Hant’s Co. not too far  away. We found what we wanted to see:  the first wave of forest herbs that flower before the hardwoods leaf out.

Bellwort

Most special was a patch of Sessile-leaf Bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia), about which Henry David Thoreau wrote in 1852*
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*As cited by Martha on wildflowergardener.wordpress.com April 26, 2014

The sessile-leaved bellwort, with three or four delicate pale-green leaves with reflexed edges, on a tender-looking stalk, the single modest-colored flower gracefully drooping, neat, with a fugacious, richly spiced fragrance, facing the ground, the dry leaves, as if unworthy to face the heavens. It is a beautiful sight, a pleasing discovery, the first of the season, — growing in a little straggling company, in damp woods or swamps. When you turn up the drooping flower, its petals make a perfect geometrical figure, a six-pointed star

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Shelly Hipson: Concerns about how Crown lands will be designated for High Production Forestry in Nova Scotia 11May 2020

UPDATE May 16, 2020: On Friday, May 15, 2020, Lands & Forestry Minister Iain Rankin was interviewed on CBC’s Information Morning (Halifax) regarding the comments of Shelly Hipson on May 11 (below) about the HPF (High Production Forestry) proposals for Crown lands. For the record and to encourage ongoing public discussion on this topic, I have posted an ‘abbreviated transcript’ of the interview with Minister Rankin as recorded by CBC, and a  response of Shelly Hipson on May 16,2020 to Minister Rankin’s comments below this post.

Concludes Hipson: There are 356,000 ha of working forest in the Ecological Matrix, compared to 333,000 ha assigned to the High Production Forestry units, a roughly 50:50 split… “We are concerned about clearcutting. We are not concerned about clearcutting land where you can’t clearcut.” [In the HPF Discussion Paper, the total land area assigned to the Ecological Matrix is 47.2% of Crown Land consisting of working forest and other land use designations; the total land area assigned to HPF is 18.2%, all of it working forest or potential working forest.]

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Tree Canopy Gain (blue)-most of it in recovering clearcuts, and Tree Canopy Loss (red) in NS 2001-2018; green is in forest not harvested in the last approx 50+ years. Where will the HPF sites be located?
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On CBC’s Information Morning (Halifax) this am., Shelly Hipson raised some significant concerns about the designation of Crown lands for High Production Forestry, and how those are presented to the public.

An Abbreviated Transcript* of the Interview (I have inserted the links):

CBC (Portia Clark): … The Independent Review recommended Ecological Forestry… the new plan would see some forest set aside for conservation plus an ecological area logged without clearcutting and a third area for high production plantation type forestry (HPF). In the HPF fast growing species would be grown using herbicides and fertilizers and clearcut every 30 to 45 years. Just before Covid19 hit, the province released a Discussion Paper on HPF. Shelly Hipson has had a close look at it. She manages the [public] Facebook group, People for Ecological Forestry in SW Nova Scotia.

What are the main concerns that you have is how the province has broken down the land that is available for each of the categories. Can you explain that?
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Nervousness about forestry practices in Nova Scotia continues 10May2020

There’s not a lot happening on the forests and forestry front these days with The Mill down and Covid19 lockdowns.

However, L&F continues to put out plans for harvesting on the HPMV and, presumably, some related activity is happening on the ground. The various activities for advancing the Lahey Recommendations continue at a snail’s pace as we approach 2 years since the report was submitted (Aug 2018).

Nervousness about where all of this is going continues on some Social Media fronts, e.g. with the arrival of migratory birds to forest nesting areas. That was a major (and still unresolved) issue raised on Social Media in the spring/early summer of last year, e.g. see posts of May 12, 2019, June 5, 2019, June 12, 2019, June 15, 2019, June 28, 2019.

The graphic at top left appeared yesterday on People for Ecological Forestry in Southwest Nova Scotia. It  cites an interview on CBC InfoAM Monday May 11 at 8:15 a.m.  about the HPF Discussion paper, commenting as follows: Continue reading

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How to find those old Chronicle Herald articles related to forestry in Nova Scotia and a lot more on the Internet Archive 12Apr2020

Perhaps all of this is well known to journalists. But it wasn’t to me. As well as static documents, whole functional websites are archived on the Internet Archive and within those archived websites, links to pre-Sept 2018 CH articles (no longer  available via the CH website), go to perfect replicas of the original articles.

Followers of this blog will likely know that I have had a bit of a bug about the Chronicle Herald not providing access to articles that appeared in the public domain before they made a major change in their platform in September of 2018

Just removed (Apr 12, 2020) from the In the News 2020 page:

NOTE Sep 19, 2018: due to the Chronicle Herald moving their website to a new platform circa Sep 15, 2018, links that refer to articles in the Chronicle Herald before that date are not currently working. Presumably they will fix that issue.
Nov 14, 2018: There is no sign that the CH will fix and make accessible the old links and now the Chronicle Herald further restricts online access to news and opinions (Post, Nov 10, 2018). In general, from this point on I will not cite Chronicle Herald articles when alternative reports are available.
Feb 1, 2019: It seems the Chronicle Herald is again making a lot of material freely available so I am again referencing such items. Thx CH. Too quick, I received this explanation a few hrs later: My Q: “I noticed that the CH is again making a lot of material freely available online (since Jan 23 or earlier). Can you confirm a change in policy? Thx. and Thx CH.” Response: No change in policy: “we continue to work on improving the online experience and in doing so, our web developers have made e-paper access available from time to time – this will not be permanent.”

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Canada’s faulty forest carbon accounting laid bare 30Mar2020

Barry Saxifrage, writing in the National Observer, lays out the complicated way Canada reports forest carbon balances, and how that reporting has been changed in recent years to hide some inconvenient truths

Curved arrows represent biologically mediated flows of GHGs: the straight arrow, industrial emissions of GHGs; and the symbols at bottom right, long term sequestration of carbon in the oceans. Carbon dioxide is the most important GHG in relation to forestry.

In a remarkable, lengthy and well researched opinion piece, Barry Saxifrage lays out the complicated way Canada reports forest carbon balances, and how that reporting has been changed in recent years so that we can continue to “to use a big whack of forest carbon “offsets” to meet Canada’s 2030 climate target”.

He writes in the National Observer as “a climate reporter and National Observer’s resident chart geek [who] focuses on the data of climate change”. View: As Canada’s forests become carbon bombs, Ottawa pushes the crisis off the books
by Barry Saxifrage on nationalobserver.com, March 30, 2020.
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What’s the earliest flowering native plant in Nova Scotia? 29Mar2020

It’s a toss-up between Skunk Cabbage and Dwarf Eastern Mistletoe

Above: Skunk Cabbage Mar 30, 2008, St. Mary’s Bay area, Digby Co. Left: Spathes emerging from snow. Right: spadix (flower clusters) exposed.
Below:Eastern Dwarf Mistletoe, Mar 28, 2020; at right, opened up. These photos by Bob Guscott
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I thought the answer was skunk cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus, which I thought is found naturally only in SW Nova Scotia but, according to Nova Scotia Plants, also occurs in Cumberland Co.

The skunk cabbage pics at right were taken during  a NS Wild Flora Society outing in 2009, led by our President, Charlie Cron, who travels to SW Nova Scotia most springs to check it out.

I made a post about it on Facebook and soon got a message from Bob Guscott, retired forest pest specialist with DNR (now L&F), one of his obsessions being the  ecology of mistletoe in NS.

Said Bob:

“Saw your FB post today on Skunk Cabbage. I have not seen it in Nova Scotia yet, but always thought that it was a candidate for first native plant to flower. The other candidate for first to flower in NS is Eastern Dwarf Mistletoe, Arceuthobium pusillum.
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Why we need a Precautionary Biodiversity Landscape Plan for Nova Scotia 16Mar2020

There is more to reversing losses of  forest and associated aquatic biodiversity in NS than simply reducing clearcutting

What we have now is a precautionary plan to protect wood supply in NS

UPDATE Also view: Need for Biodiversity Landscape Planning before finalizing HPF and Ecological Matrix components of the Triad, and for caution in selection of HPF sites in acid-stressed watersheds
A response to the High Production Forestry Phase 1 – Discussion Paper, from the Conservation Committee of the Halifax Field Naturalists
March 31, 2020

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The major cause for loss of biodiversity worldwide and locally is habitat loss and fragmentation. We are probably only beginning to the see the most extreme effects of it in NS: the local extinction or “extirpation” of species. An example: the mainland moose population seems to have collapsed; there is strong enough evidence that mismanagement or lack of management of habitat by L&F is the major cause that a group of naturalists have taken the province  to court to force them to take action they were committed to take but didn’t.

But well before the total collapse of species, they become less abundant and less genetically diverse. Those of us of some age remember days when brook trout and salmon and insects and forest wildflowers and a wide range of forest birds were very much more abundant than they are today. (A smaller number of species actually benefit in some way from increased human interaction and have become more abundant, sometimes to the point they are  damaging to ecosystems, e.g. bald eagles in NS).
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