Rick Howe talks to Bob Bancroft about Nova Scotia DNR cutting Old Growth forest

Bob Bancroft talking about cavity dwellers in a talk to the Friends of Redtail Society in 2013

Bob was interviewed by Rick Howe on the Rick Howe Show this a.m., a followup to the controversy surrounding cutting of purported Old Growth forest in the area of Loon Lake, Guysborough Co. (For some background, view archived posts on Loon Lake)

The audio can be accessed for 1 week at  Rick Howe Audios Pick March 6, 2018, 10 a.m. segment, beginning at 1:36 mins ending at 11:05 mins. An abbreviated transcript is given below; I have added some sub-titles. OG=Old Growth DNR = Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources

Is Old Growth Forest being cut?

RH: A veteran logger complains that an OG forest is being cut on Crown land in Guysborough Co. The province’s Old Forest Policy declares that NS will conserve its OG forest on public lands…DNR says it is ivesigtaing the Danny George claim.

My guest this hour says it’s true. Bob… Danny George says the OG forest is being cut.. you went out to check, tell us what you found.

BB: I have been out there several times with several people including Scott Cook who had a mill years ago. What I found was OG forest, let’s not beat around the bush. A lot of this area has never been cut. It’s just a case that 70 years ago we didn’t have 4-wheel drives and all of the machinery we have now, and there were places they missed the last time around.

RH: ..So now they are getting to the places they missed?

BB: Yes..and if you listen to the DNR people, they say that have twice the amount of OG [needed according to their Old Forest Policy] in this ecodistrict already. It’s not convenient for them to have more OG. They are ignoring that in this whole province OG is only a fraction of 1% in the province and they are saying there is too much down there [in Guysborough Co.]. I’ll let you decide what you think about that.

What is “Old Growth Forest”?

RH: Explain so people understand, what is OG forest?

BB: It’s forest that has been allowed to mature to a point in forest succssion that it stabilizes and you have young trees, old trees, a mix of species.

DNR has very stringent regulations about how to define OG and it serves them well because if a stand doesn’t fit the regulation, they can cut it..

But what I am trying to tells you is that it is when nature more less comes to a relatively steady state; [although] there is always change in nature. In this case it’s yellow birch forest with sugar maple, in wet areas a smattering of spruce and some fir in pockets in pockets. It’s a well drained site; when you walk in, you see trees that are in decay, you see trees that are on the ground, you see trees that are 10 ft if you take a tape and measure around them… and there are fisher tracks.

To turn around and call a place like that “not OG forest”, it’s making a farce of the whole thing…DNR is facilitating what the industry wants…For example, in my time when I worked with them, anything that was 80 years and older was called mature. They have lowered that to 40… it’s just asinine, excuse my language; and they have made their OG regulations so stringent that they can gut them [OG stands].

RH: But the policy states “Conserve the remaining OG forest on public lands”.

BB: Yes but there is a weasel clause in there which says the exception applies if the mapped ecosystem type does not match the on-the-ground characteristics. So you and I can take a look at a satellite image or a photographs and say of that’s white birch or red maple and we can go ahead and cut it and when somebody like Danny George – and I fully back what he’s saying- says No, this is sugar maple and yellow birch… which are the original species that need shade to grow back in… It is mind-blowing that they have built their regulations so if they make a mistake, its OK to cut it.*

Who is cutting it? The leases.

RH: Who is cutting it?

BB: It’s being cut by a variety of contractors for either Nova Scotia Power, because they are burning the stuff

RH: – for biomass, yah

BB: and for Port Hawkesbury Paper. But it gets worse. They signed another lease with somebody else. The WestFor group of 13 companies have the western and central part locked up with a lot of wood, but they have just signed a major lease with Great Northern Timber, the company that just recently acquired the old pellet mill in Middle Musquodoboit.

And there has been another lease signed… The DNR people in the head office are continuing on, they have signed a major lease to harvest hardwood, in one county in this province, and the stumpage rate I am hearing …is $7 a tonne which is what they are paying for trees that are standing, that equates to about $14 a cord for hardwood.

So they are not learning anything. These are public lands that are being destroyed for wildlife, and nutrients [are] lost and the forest that was there is not going to be able to come back because of the way they are doing it and we are just standing by.

What about regeneration of yellow birch after harvesting?

RH: I am looking at a quote from the Regional Resource Manager for DNR, Mark Pulsifer, and he says, “The logger’s analysis is not entirely correct” and he says “Port Hawkesbury Paper’s harvesting method does encourage the re-growth of yellow Birch, one of the most valuable species in the forest. What do you say about that, Bob?

BB: Well basically there is a system called scarification that is done to ensure regeneration of yellow birch…No 1, if they do, they are going to pay for it at a rate per hectare that is very close to the royalty that DNR receives – if they [actually] receive a royalty, we are not sure – for the timber that is harvested.

Danny had the right way to regenerate yellow birch. DNR are saying they can ignore it and go back and do a costly after-treatment that they probably won’t even do… it’s a weasel.

Why are we allowing clearcutting/harvesting of Old Growth and how can we stop it?

RH: Mark just e-mailed as we chatted; he says “Why are we allowing this clearcutting…what can we do…Bob why is this happening?

BB: We are all tied up in education and health, maybe we should treat it as a forest health issue… The public does need to rise up on this. A lot of us have been publicly protesting for years.

Anybody who is interested should look at nsforestsnotes.ca or healthyforestcoalition.ca …that’s the group I belong to…we march we put up signs. The Margaree Association has put up anti-clearcut signs in Halifax.

RH: Every time I chat with you, I get a lot of phone calls…how can we stop this?

BB: It has been happening with all three political parties but I doubt everyone is going to vote for the Green party to get the forest managed properly. We have to get one of the three major political parties to make a statement.. And be rational enough about it to stop this give-away.

Its outrageous that public land can be treated this way for private profits. People are becoming millionaires by chipping very valuable trees and even if they sort them, it’s being done a rate that shouldn’t be allowed

RH:…we ‘ll keep pounding away and hopefully some day they will be listening down at Province House….


* I think what Bob could be referring to is a clause in the Old Forest Policy (p6) that states: “Selections [of candidates for Old Growth status] must be large enough to be identified as a stand in the GIS”! In effect, unless you find an Old Growth stand that corresponds precisely to DNR’s definition of Old Growth over the whole area of DNR’s interpretation of a specific stand (given by a polygon) in that area from aerial photography, it won’t be accepted. There’s lots of wiggle room in the Old Forest Policy in favour of harvesting.

Thanks Bob Bancroft and Rick Howe

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