PHP to issue a public response to concerns about harvesting near Loon Lake Nature Reserve

PHP is taking concerns about harvesting on Crown/FSC certified lands in the area of Loon Lake Nature Reserve seriously but we still need some details from PHP about the specific site that Danny George talked about, and from NSDNR about their possible mis-categorization of the forest stands.

UPDATE March 1, 4 p.m. I just talked to Danny George. The area he has been talking about is just west of Eight Mile Lake (at the top left of the map below). He has the coordinates. He refers to the area as the Loon Lake plateau. It is accessed via the Loon Lake Road.

Forest Harvest Allocation Map accessed May 24, 2017 showing proposed cuts near Loon Lake Nature Reserve. Despite alarm bells raised by Danny George at the time, these harvests are going ahead. View Post of Feb 23, 2018
Click on image for larger version.

In a post about the cutting near Loon Lake Nature Reserve, Guysborough Co. that I made a few days ago (Danny George rings the alarm bell (again) on Loon Lake Nova Scotia clearcuts of Old Growth, Feb 23, 2018), I commented:

More layers could be added to the story, for example, that Port Hawkesbury Paper’s operations on Crown lands are FSC certified*, so there should be an additional layer of precaution on top of the NSDNR requirements for harvests on Crown Land – but as I wrote about in a recent post, FSC follows the NSDNR classifications and interpretations of natural disturbance regimes and so is subject to the same errors and misinterpretations. Regardless, this particular cut should be thoroughly investigated by FSC.

It’s possible I suppose that subcontracted operations are not FSC certified, but the way I read the documentation, all harvests on Crown lands are required to comply with FSC standards; certainly that’s the public message. UPDATE, FEB 23, P.M.  I sent in a request for clarification to FSC and was instructed to contact PHP directly. A.D. at PHP replied and confirmed that “the areas mentioned in the article are certified under our FSC Crown land certificate”; also that “PHP does not harvest old growth areas that are protected under DNR’s Old Growth Policy.  These areas are delineated and in our GIS as protected areas, and all boundaries are respected”; and that they would follow up on the specific area and “respond again with additional information”.

As described above, A.D. at Port Hawkesbury Paper (PHP) responded promptly to my request to address the questions/concerns I had sent initially to Dominic Lessard (Technical Manager – FSC Program SAI Global). That was all on Friday, Feb 23.

On Monday, February 26, A.D. replied at length, and included 5 aerial photographs “taken by the DNR Antigonish forester and biologist. The area was flown on Friday afternoon, and show the range of treatments PHP applied to the stands.”

So clearly, PHP was/is taking this issue seriously.

I prepared a post with their response, but decided to check with A.D. at PHP first:
I wrote:

… thanks for your prompt response.
I assume that is OK to post your response verbatim (and my original questions) on I referred to the questions in a post on that I am guessing you have seen.

A.D. replied that she was not aware that I was representing and hadn’t seen my post on the website… and yesterday (Feb 28, 2018), the following:

Related to the request to publish the information I provided to you, I had to check with senior management, as my response was provided as an email communication rather than a media communication. We continuously respond to individuals and groups who have questions related to our forest management and our responses are factual and as timely as possible, and can be verified by independent auditors during our annual certification assessments.

Approval to post the response to the NS Forest Notes website was not obtained at this time; however, a discussion has begun related to communication so that the larger public has the opportunity to acquire knowledge related to our forest management and the media is a part of that discussion. Should we choose to provide the response already prepared or compliment with further details, I will ensure Nova Scotia Forest Notes is included in those considerations.

Fair enough, I told her, and that I looked forward to their public comments.

I also reminded A.D. that I had asked for a comment on the specific site referred to by Danny George, which was not referenced in their reply of Feb 28th…

Without going into details, the description that PHP offered of the harvest area did not match the descriptions, videos etc of the Danny George version.

So there is a lot to be sorted out.

Just as a P.S., I am not out to “get PHP”, and have given them credit where credit is due in the past, see: Port Hawkesbury Paper proud of FSC certification audit (Post, Dec 5, 2016).

Also, in the late summer of 2017, I wrote FSC in response to their Call for input to FSC Forest Management Reregistration audit on Nova Scotia Crown lands managed by Port Hawkesbury Paper, expressing a couple of concerns but also noting that “I do think that PHP generally is sincere and serious about sustainable forest management”. And I do.

But for the sake of full transparency and public trust in FSC certification, PHP needs to address concerns raised by Danny George in relation to cutting near Loon Lake Nature Reserve, referencing the specific stands cited by Danny George, shown in videos etc. (View Post, Feb 23, 2017).

And at some point it would be good to hear from Nova Scotia DNR in relation to Danny George’s contention that

What enabled this [the cutting near Loon Lake Nature Reserve] to take place from the beginning was the mis-typing of these forests in the provincial database. In the late 1970s and early 80s when these areas were first interpreted from aerial photographs they mis-categorized it; it was labeled 85% intolerant and it’s 85% tolerant hardwood…. Intolerant is basically a biomass product, largely red maple, white birch, that type of low end product

I did contact DNR in conjunction with one of their foresters that this area was improperly represented and it’s been an ongoing battle to try and have this recognized for what it is. – Danny George on Information Morning, feb 26, 2018

And perhaps both DNR and PHP could get together and tell the public more about the Landscape Level Planning Pilot Project that NSDNR is conducting in the area with the collaboration of PHP. That’s of interest to DNR’s public partners as well.


View also: Science issues and lack of landscape/watershed level planning by Nova Scotia DNR limit what can be achieved through forest certification (Post, Feb 22, 2018)

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