Nova Scotia DNR Biodiversity Council Members Appointed

Will the council look at habitat loss associated with clearcutting as a major issue?


In their 2017 election platform the McNeil Liberals said they would create a Biodiversity Council:

…as part of our vision to ensure a healthy environment for future generations, a Liberal Government will pass a Biodiversity Act. This act will improve protection of our forests, lakes, animals, plants and citizens by better coordinating existing legislation and creating a new Nova Scotia Biodiversity Council. The council will have the power to recommend new actions that promote biodiversity and report annually on the status of our biodiversity

Formation of the council was announced in a NSDNR Press Release (May 22, 2018)

Four experts who will help craft new legislation and recommend new actions to promote biodiversity in Nova Scotia have been chosen for the new Biodiversity Council.

Today, May 22, is the International Day for Biological Diversity.

The members are:
— Donna Hurlburt, aboriginal advisor at Acadia University, Mi’kmaq ecologist and conservation biologist
— Kate Sherren, associate professor and academic programs co-ordinator of the Dalhousie School for Resource and Environmental Studies
— Graham Forbes, professor at the University of New Brunswick and the director of the New Brunswick Cooperatives Research Unit and the Sir James Dunn Wildlife Research Centre
— Peter Oram, senior environmental specialist at the technical consulting and management services provider GHD

The experts begin their work immediately and are appointed for two-year terms.

A new Biodiversity Act will enable Nova Scotia to improve the conservation and sustainable use of wild species and ecosystems in flexible and adaptive ways, address legislative gaps and manage emerging risks.

Creating a new Biodiversity Council is included in the 2017 mandate letter of the Natural Resources Minister Margaret Miller.

The Press Release provides additional biographical information about the four council members, also copied in at the bottom of this web page.

It appears the Terms of Reference are not yet publicly available.

A series of stakeholder meetings were held in early 2018 to get feedback on initial concepts of a new Biodiversity Act. I attended one of these meetings in January 2018 as a representative of Nature Nova Scotia. DNR staff hosted the session, NSE staff were also present; Jonathan Porter (Executive Director, renewable Resources Branch) also attended and participated in some of the discussions.

In the presentation the following topics were listed as potential topics for Regulation Development:
– Invasive Species
– Biodiversity Management Sites
– Wildlife health and disease
– Non-traditional use of biodiversity

There had been some hope that the Liberals’ promised Biodiversity Act for Nova Scotia would provide a venue to moderate clearcutting (view post, June 9, 2017) and I expressed some dismay that “habitat loss” (mainly associated with clearcutting) was not in that list. Several others participating also expressed concern and there followed quite a bit of discussion around this topic.

There was no acknowledgment from DNR/NSE staff at the meeting that loss of biodiversity associated with clearcutting is a matter of concern. Nor did they see any need for it to be addressed in the Biodiversity Act – DNR staff said that was not necessary because there are already regulations that address this issue.

However, they acknowledged the comments and presumably it all got recorded and is feedback to the new council.

I hope that this council operates with more visibility (e.g. in the form of annual reports) and public interaction than has occurred with NSDNR’s Forest Biodiversity Science Advisory Committee.

I wish the council well.

Some links

Biodiversity Act Stakeholder Meetings January 2018
Set of slides used at stakeholder meetings. I attended one of these meetings in January 2018 as a representative of Nature Nova Scotia; I was a bit dismayed that “habitat loss” (mainly associated with clearcutting) had not been identified as a major cause of biodiversity loss in NS. Hopefully that is now in their radar!

Biodiversity: The Foundation for Environmental, Social and Economic Prosperity in Nova Scotia
A PANEL OF EXPERTISE REPORT ON BIODIVERSITY TO THE STEERING PANEL February 2010 Under 10.0 List of Recommendations, item 8 may relate to the above: 8. Establish an external science advisory body that will provide advice to the minister based on the most up-todate scientific understanding of issues affecting biodiversity. This committee might include members from industry and the Nova Scotia population at large but, as a science advisory body, should remain specifically focused on current science.
Blog website of Kate Sherren. Themes: Landscape-People-Global Change


Council Member Information (From Press Release):

Donna Hurlburt is an aboriginal advisor at Acadia University and an independent consultant using her expertise as a Mi’kmaq ecologist and conservation biologist. Ms. Hurlburt has a PhD in environmental biology and ecology from the University of Alberta, a master of science in biology from Acadia University, and a bachelor of science in agriculture and animal science from the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.

Kate Sherren is an associate professor in Dalhousie’s School for Resource and Environmental Studies. Ms. Sherren’s research focuses on multifunctional landscapes, cultural ecosystem services, climate adaptation, and environmental education. Ms. Sherren has a PhD in resource management and environmental studies from the Australian National University and B.E.S honors in geography from the University of Waterloo.

Graham Forbes is a professor at the University of New Brunswick and the director of the New Brunswick Cooperatives Research Unit and the Sir James Dunn Wildlife Research Centre. Mr. Forbes has a bachelor of arts in biogeography at York University and a master’s degree and PhD from the University of Waterloo. A successful academic with an extensive publication record, Mr. Forbes leverages his knowledge to advise the national and provincial governments on a wide range of conservation issues.

Peter Oram is a senior environmental specialist at GHD* with 30 years of experience in environmental impact assessment and public consultation. Mr. Oram has a bachelor of arts double major in geology and geography with a minor in biology from Mount Allison University. He has lectured at Dalhousie University in the Environmental Science and Mining Engineering Departments and is routinely involved in the development and review of legislation associated with mine and aggregate operations in Nova Scotia and beyond.

*GHG: GHD Pty Ltd (formerly known as Gutteridge Haskins & Davey) view wikipedia

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