Crown lands recently purchased by Nova Scotians now managed by private interests

Western Crown lands, modified from CPAWS map (2012)

Western Crown lands, modified from CPAWS map (2012)

A blog post on the Healthy Forest Coalition website Jan 31, 2017 notes that “Behind closed doors, Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources has quietly transferred the management of 1.4 million acres of Crown lands to WestFor, a consortium of 13 privately owned mills. Some of these mills are local companies with a long history in their communities (Turner, Ledwidge, Freeman), others are decidedly international (Northern Pulp, Louisiana Pacific). All answer to their owners or stockholders, not to the public…”

“Should private industry be the steward of public lands?” asks the writer.

These Crown lands include lands purchased in 2012 by the province for $111 million from Bowater Mersey when it went out of business. Read HFC blog post

Also see Western Crown Lands on this website for more about this “forest tragedy” as one journalist labelled it.


Signing away our Western Crown lands to private interests is not recent news, but it definitely bears repeating and highlighting. In press releases touting success of NSDNR’s forestry management, the arrangements with Westfor are rarely, if ever, mentioned. The WestFor website likewise offers very little information. We do not know the status of the 10 year agreement with Westfor – is it still under negotiation or has it been finalized?

Nor does the government mention the recently published NSDNR soils research verifying what had been well known to aquatic scientists a decade and more ago: large expanses of forested lands in SW Nova Scotia are highly stressed by acid rain because of the extremely low inherent buffering capacity. The NSDNR soils paper indicates that losses of calcium in particular will be increased further by harvesting, and calcium levels in aquatic systems of SW Nova Scotia are already at critically low levels for a lot of aquatic life.

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