Clearcutting by smaller players on private woodlots in Nova Scotia

An article in the Chronicle Herald by Aaron Beswick presents a favourable perspective on at least some clearcutting in Nova Scotia, that conducted on private lots in Cumberland managed by Athol Forestry Cooperative. View Cutting in Cumberland County: Even a clearcut can have its place (Chronicle Herald, Apr 7, 2018).

I can appreciate, alway have, that there are many private woodlot owners and managers who practice responsible forestry with a long term perspective and involving some clearcutting as described in the article. And I am happy to see some positive, optimistic news about smaller scale forestry in Cumberland Co.

Some interesting and I think fairly constructive discussion of the article developed fairly promptly on Woods and Waters Nova Scotia, reproduced below.

Discussion updated Apr 8 at 10:25

JB: This article describes what the forestry business is mostly all about in rural NS! It’s too bad that people who are against clear cutting and forestry are unable to see how important this business is to the people who depend upon it. Good forestry is being used and most people involved respect the environment, the land and all landowners. Great article, more of this needs to be done to show all novascotians what really is going on! Good job guys!

RM: Nice job getting a positive story about forest management out Craig. Keep up the good work.

AF: any body know how much the planters made 40 years ago? think the pct rates will go up be for this block needs it ? money went into the planting but missed the thinning why ? -see pct rates below for more discussion

DGP (NSFN): I agree, it is mostly a good news story especially at a local level; but it depends a lot on: “low quality softwood [going ] to Northern Pulp and low quality hardwood to Pictou County… the interconnectedness of the industry here…When Great Northern Timber in Sheet Harbour gets an order for woodchips to Turkey, it draws low grade material from Northern Pulp, which opens up a market for us” and those components are increasing GHG emissions.

CT (from Athol Forestry) responds to DGP: To do those quality improvement treatments, we need outlets for small material, other low quality stems that will never make a quality, healthy, long lived tree. The key is making sure that these products are coming from responsibly managed stands.

DGP: I totally get it and am empathetic on that score but climate-wise, it would be better if those low-grade materials went into some long-lasting products rather than being burned… so it’s not a problem with the forest management, it’s with the use of the low-grade products.

CT: I think we’ll get there David. Nanocellulose fiber and many other lignin based plastic substitutes are just over the horizon waiting to bring green alternatives to packaging and building materials. We may one day be using these same trees to make electric car components. District heating could replace many oil fired boilers in schools and hospitals leading to lower particulate emissions, more local jobs, and more vibrant communities. It takes a relatively tiny amount of grey birch, and balsam fir to replace decidedly carbon intensive oil and natural gas with at least debatably carbon neutral wood (when used efficiently and in support of carbon sequestering management strategies)….Baby steps though… in the mean time we work with the markets we have to create and foster the forests we’ll need in the future. I can get really excited about that potential.

JB to DGP: not all the primary forest products going to NP or GNTI or PHP are not being burned for fuel. Residual waste from the products maybe, but not all. This is one of the misconceptions that some people have with the forest industry. The biomass energy plant at Port Hawkesbury was started by the NDP gov of the day with little thought put into how to obtain fuel for it and how much fuel would be required, there in lies the problem. Green energy, great idea, fuel supply not the right thoughts on how to obtain it properly

DGP to JB: We need verifiable stats on what the % is, anything more than about 10% shouldn’t be counted as carbon neutral. Here’s one set of nos: “According to a document provided by the paper mill, of the hardwood it has cut in the area of Guysborough’s Loon Lake Road and that the province has admitted may include old-growth stands, 73 per cent went for fuel wood (biomass), 11 per cent for firewood, eight per cent for hardwood pulp, six per cent for saw logs and a very small amount to make pallets.” That’s 84% being burned.

JB: DGP the unknown variable in that case could possibly be the quality of the trees on that particular site. I know that I didn’t see that harvest ing operation and probably alot of people didn’t either. But again the requirements for that biomass operation in my eye needs to be readressed to make sure the right quality wood is going to the right end user. NS needs a facility to utilize reasonable or low quality pulp, hardwood and softwood to produce a sellable end product!

DGP: CT, JB Re nanocellulose etc. yes much better than using “low quality wood” for biomass. But intensity and scale have to be considered, just as they do with clearcutting today. If nanocellulose resulted in even more clearcuts and larger clearcuts on even shorter rotations (to remain competitive) then the downward spiral in the productivity and biodiversity of NovaScotia’s working forests at large would continue, so it’s a 2-edged sword.

CT: Absolutely agree DGP. As I said in the article, every tool is appropriate in the right circumstances, but every tool has the potential for misuse.

DGP: Good discussion, Thanks

Discussion of PCT Rates

AF: any body know how much the planters made 40 years ago? think the pct rates will go up be for this block needs it ? money went into the planting but missed the thining why ?

CT: Yes, I certainly hope precommercial thinning is rewarded one day as the skilled and critical profession that it is. This stand was precommercially thinned, but missed a commercial thinning because it’s always difficult to line up markets, available funding, skilled contractors, and appropriate weather to complete some of those partial harvest treatments. We are starting to see that skill set develop in good contractors like Peter that wasn’t available in the area 10 years ago. That being said, when that stand was planted, the goal was to produce a high volume of wood and a return to the landowner. I think that goal was achieved. Now, the landowner goals are a bit more holistic, and this species planted off site no longer meets those values. Good questions.

AF: yep lineing up funding is not easy and if the money comes to late the opertuninty is lost the the funding needs to be more consestent to keep skild workers going on blocks that can benefit if things dont change soon there will be no one left to pass skills on…you say that your seeing skill sets develop in the last 10 years but i dont seeit like that i see more skiled workers geting out of the industry and more rookys doing it wrong hurting them selves and loseing you mean peter at informed? i been with him 20 years minimum wage was 6$ an change when i started with him now peopel are calling for 15$ an hour i shure dident get into this wraket to work max efert for min pay and i dont like wachen kids get taken for there hard work . people have been telling me for years id where myself out that id break my body but im starting to think the bigest hazerd is to my mind

GF: I got 6 cents per tree for planting at lands and forest 40 years ago AF

CT: No Adam I meant commercial thinning skills and harvester technology has come a long way in the past 10 years. You’re right that we are bleeding skilled spacing saw operators due to diminishing wages. Also, wrong Peter, I was referring to Peter Allen in the article.

AF: i have to disagree on coment that thining skills are geting any better hatrvesters are fast but to much profit goes to the payments on them and thay have to run all the time a man with a saw is much more flexabl and spends his money localy. we need more chainsaws and less harvesters…AF, GF thanks for telling us 6 cents i work for a great boss i get 9 cents a tree but i bet the ns averevg is around 8 so up 2 cents in 40 years . DnR i know you guys can do the math why is this ok it is in your power to raise the rates would any of you work for 1990 pay
AF: a review of silvicultcer rates was done around 5 years ago that called for a raise in rates nothing was done with that now another review i think its time to stop puting money in to reviews and put it back into geting the work done

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