Environmentalists see Liberals’ promised Biodiversity Act for Nova Scotia as a venue to moderate clearcutting

Could a Biodiversity Act help to rein in clearcutting in Nova Scotia?

Freelance journalist Chris Benjamin has written extensively on environmental issues in Nova Scotia. In The Coast for June 8, he looks at the prospect that the new Liberal government will follow though on “decisive new actions” on environmental policy promised during the campaign, citing discussions with Brendan Haley (a Dalhousie University clean-energy economics researcher) and Mark Butler (a director of the Ecology Action Centre), and writings of Meinhard Doelle, a Dalhousie law professor specializing in climate change.

On emissions: the Nova Scotia carbon price is too low and emissions cap too high; Doelle and Haley suggest that N.S. should let the federal government put their tax in place and absorb the accompanying administrative cost until a proper system can be designed.

EAC’s Mark Butler is skeptical about the promises to appoint an independent expert to review our forestry practices, but thinks that if the Biodiversity Act the Liberals promised
has any teeth it could be useful. “They can [use it to] address clearcutting, enact a provincial endangered species act, et cetera.”

View Liberals get another shot at saving Nova Scotia’s ecology (The Coast, June 9, 2017).

On a related front, in 2010 Canada committed “to conserve at least 17 per cent of our country’s land and freshwater through a network of parks, protected and conserved areas, and other effective area-based conservation measures by 2020.” (See Parks Canada, June 8, 2017, and the Backgrounder).

Clearcut in lands designated for the Raven Head Protected Area, 2011 : “To negotiate a price within the province’s budget, Wagner Forestry [was] allowed to harvest about one quarter of the Apple Head area”.

Currently Nova Scotia is at 12.4 while 13% was the goal for 2015.

I have been told that the holdup is due to DNR being difficult about approving the larger blocks of land that were identified as potential Protected Areas in 2013* because they want the wood. Does that mean they want to harvest on those blocks before agreeing to see them protected, like Wagner Forestry did when the province purchased lands for Raven Head?. *Those lands can be viewed at NS Parks and Protected Areas Interactive Map. Harvests proposed on Crown Land are posted at Forest Harvest Allocation Maps 20 days before they are finally approved.

Getting to 13% via small increments is… incremental (12.24% in 2015 to 12.4% in March 2017).

A Biodiversity Act would indeed need teeth to rein in clearcutting in Nova Scotia.

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