Raymond Plourde, Wilderness Coordinator for the Ecology Action Centre has written a lengthy, thoughtful op-ed commenting on the The Report from the Independent Review of Forest Practices in NS. View:
OPINION: Lahey forestry report: The good, the bad & the missing
Raymond Plourde in the Chronicle Herald. published online Sat Sep 8, 2018 – Now (Post-Sept. 2018) NOT Available via the CH. View on EAC website
Overall, Plourde expresses support for the conclusions and recommendations, highlighting 13 items and commenting “Where the Lahey report really excels is in analyzing and debunking DNR’s carefully constructed wall of obfuscation and technobabble designed to sooth and confuse their political masters and the public, while enabling the continued widespread clearcutting of our forests.”
On the “Bad” side, he cites the lack of recommendations for more regulation of cutting on private lands, the return to glyphosate use at public expense on Crown lands, while under “Missing” he cites “their decision not to examine end uses of harvested wood (biomass, pulp & paper, lumber, value added products, etc.) which he says drive harvesting practices.
But his biggest criticism relates to forest biomass: “Most shockingly of all, the report completely avoids comment on the significant new consumptive pressure of high-volume harvesting of trees to feed large biomass electricity generators, both here and abroad. It’s a glaring omission.”
I was at the stakeholder presentation on Aug 21, 2018 and I well remember Plourde asking Prof Lahey why the biomass issue was not addressed. Says Plourde:
I asked Lahey why biomass was missing from his report at the stakeholder briefing and he gave two answers: 1. “We really didn’t hear that much about biomass during our consultation” (Wrong!) and 2. “We decided that we would not be looking at end uses” (What?)
In the op-ed, Plourde pointedly reproduces Fig 1.2 from the Report Addendum, which summarizes in a bar graph the issues identified in submissions to The Review. “Biomass” was #1.
Says Plourde: “It is doubtful Nova Scotians will see another forestry review anytime soon so that leaves the biomass issue hanging out there unresolved and blows the best shot we had for dealing with it for years to come. Premier McNeil should request Lahey and his team continue their work and specifically address the missing biomass piece. But I’m not holding my breath.”
Finally Plourde comments that “despite rather serious shortcomings, there is a lot of good research and recommendations in the Lahey report”, and he offers a list of “Ten things the government should do immediately”.
1) Reform DNR’s function, policies and processes as per the Lahey report remedy package.
2) Immediate end to clearcutting on sensitive/thin soils, particularly in western Nova Scotia.
3) Immediate ban on whole tree harvesting. This was announced in 2013 but never enacted.
4) Immediate expansion of Medway Community Forest as per Lahey’s recommendation.
5) Throw out the useless “western Crown lands plan” and start working on something to replace it
6) Get moving with implementing the long overdue parks & protected areas plan in full.
7) An immediate end to clearcutting adjacent to protected areas
8) Quickly identify and protect all remaining old growth forest stands on Crown land
9) No long-term wood supply agreements (e.g., WestFor) until the report is fully implemented and public trust is restored
10) Get serious about seriously reducing clearcutting on Crown land now. Stop waiting. It’s time to act decisively.
There are more details to those to-dos in the op-ed.
I have heard separately that the Premier is wondering why he hasn’t heard more from Nova Scotians about what they think about the report. Part of the answer is that it is a large complex report requiring considerable time to digest, and many with limited familiarity with forestry and forest ecology could still have some difficulty understanding it all. Plourde’s point by point, constructive analysis should help.
Thanks Raymond Plourde/EAC
& It’s time to write a letter to the Premier!