In an 8 minute segment on CBC’s Information Morning yesterday (hosted by Don Connolly), Michael Gorman described some of the criticism that people he interviewed expressed about the way the province handles our forests. Nova Scotia Natural Resources Minister Lloyd Hines did not share the concerns. Below is an edited, partial transcript of the segment.
Some of the changes that have come up over the last few months include backing off of FSC Certification, clearcuts planned close to Keji Park, the updated Natural Resource Strategy in which the commitment to reducing clearcutting to 50% on crown lands has been dropped; finally the approval for Northern Pulp and some other companies to spray glyphosates on clearcuts. The prevailing sentiment of the people Gorman talked to is that the government is not listening to the will of the people. One of the hallmarks of the Natural Resource Strategy when it was released was the amount of public consultation that went into it…the government had a forward-thinking, 10 year strategy which reflected what people wanted.
Wildlife biologist Bob Bancroft
In particular, Bob is concerned about what changes in government policy mean for the western crown lands which the province purchased from Bowater in 2012.
It’s clearing the way to flatten the last crown land that is available, ¼ millon acres, given to a consortium of forest industry people. They couldn’t have done that under FSC now they are going to clearcut it, clean it all off, that will be the end of the crown land; then they will turn, they already are, to get woodland owners like myself to cash in their forests.
Bob and others are concerned about the level of influence that large players in the industry have with the department, and that’s what’s driving some of these changes.
Woodlot owner Jim Crooker
Gorman talked to woodlot owner Jim Crooker of Queens County who agrees there is too much influence from the big players. He sees a bit of an irony in that because private woodlots owners are actually the majority landowners in the province.
We have absolutely no say at all. If I go in the woods and cut some logs, I have to take just whatever they can give me or they don’t want it at all…we have totally zero say in the resources and private woodlot owners own about 60% of it…and produce more than 60% of the wood fiber in Nova Scotia.
Basically they are the mercy of what mills are willing to pay.
NSDNR Minister Lloyd Hines responds
What does the government say about these concerns? Lloyd Hines, the Natural Resources Minister says that the changes we are seeing reflect changes in the industry. He knows there are people who are skeptical about the department but the decisions they are making are based on science,…jobs related to forestry, including the ones related to the big mills, are some of the best jobs available in rural Nova Scotia and so for that reason and some others the minister says nobody should question his departments commitment to managing the forestry.
We understand what’s needed… we know what valuable resources it is… it has been contributing for 400 years and we want it to contribute for another 400 years.
In regard to lifting the ban on spraying herbicide on crown land, the minister says he has yet to decide on that and if he does allow it, whether tax payers would fund the spraying.
Digby Co. forester Harold Alexander
Gorman got a call from Harold Alexander a forester in Digby Co. who has been at the job for 37 years. He and a small group are going to Finland to find out why Finland’s forestry industry which in many ways is similar to ours is so much more successful economically while continuing to be sustainable and healthy. He says that issues such as clearcutting are important, but the focus is on the wrong place. Alexander says that when you see a clearcut on crown land, it has been approved by government because there are regulations for cutting on crown land, but not so on private land. People can clear it however the choose. He says a lot of private land is being cleared because people who don’t want to work the land are content to take contractors come along and offer them. Repeatedly the province says it can’t tell private landowners what they can do. Alexander thinks that’s a copout…long after they are gone from this earth, their land will remain. He says addressing clearcutting will take a combination of incentives for better management and regulations.
The politicians are scared to death to tell woodlot owners that you can’t have somebody come and cut your land from one end to the other… a huge big part of the clearcutting going on in Nova Scotia is on small private forests. The incentive is contractors and big companies putting money in woodlot owners pockets, in their bank accounts.
Alexander says his group invited to Natural Resources for an official to join them on their trip to Finland, but the offer wasn’t accepted. Alexander thinks if a similar system to that in Finland could be implemented here which would involve organizing private landowners, it could mean up to 30,000 new jobs and millions of dollars more injected into the economy which is largely rural based where the jobs are desperately needed. The plan is to bring what they have learned to private woodlot owners in hopes that it will encourage better management practices, and perhaps also convince the government to get behind their efforts.
Finland vs Nova Scotia.
Slide presentation by Harold Alexander to Local Prosperity Conference 2015, gives some comparative stats for Nova Scotia and Finland.
Government flip-flop on FSC Certification a major step backwards for public forests”
EAC, March 2016
Proposed clear cut near Kejimkujik National Park concerns environmentalists
CBC Aug 19, 2016
Not just Keji – DNR proposing clearcuts near more protected spaces in Nova Scotia
Digby Courier, Sep 9, 2016
Goal to reduce clear-cutting, whole-tree harvesting abandoned: author
CH Aug 31, 2016
Evaluation of Glyphosate get’s political in N.S.
Post on this website, Sep 3, 2016.