The Nova Scotia Government responds to The Lahey Report

The extension of forestry licensing agreements by one year, given what’s going on and Minister’s recent defence of it, is not a good sign.
ADDENDUM (Dec 4, 2018) Comments from CBC Report

An elderly reader of NS Forest Notes started to weep when he realized the abuse of our forests is not about to stop

Three documents of 10 pages in total have been issued:

1. Press release

2. Government Response To the Independent Review of Forest Practices in Nova Scotia
Dec 3, 2018, 5 pages

The department will move forward with the following priority actions:

-protect and enhance ecosystems and biodiversity as the department’s overarching forest policy priority
-implement what is known as the triad model of ecological forestry, which includes conservation areas, high-production forest areas and a combination when conservation and forestry objectives are blended
-make revisions to the Forest Management Guide to place more emphasis on ecological values in the decision-making process
-begin a peer review of the department’s approach to natural disturbance regimes to ensure alignment with ecological forestry
-increase the focus on wildlife and species at risk with a focus on health and recovery plans
-improve openness, transparency and accountability of the department’s decisions
-explore opportunities for small-scale wood energy projects to allow low-quality wood to be used in heating public buildings, such as hospitals, schools, and government offices.

I wondered this a.m. about extension of existing agreements. Here is the Government’s answer:

In addition, Government will extend forestry licensing agreements by one year. This will allow time to begin the work required and, in the interim, provide continued access to Crown land for Crown licensees.

3. Interim Retention Guide Nova Scotia Crown Land
Dec 3, 2018,, 4 pages
An extract:

5) Priority for Retention.
a. Uncommon tree species that form a small proportion of a stand (e.g. Ironwood, LIT,
large old super canopy trees)
b. Wildlife trees and biodiversity features (see Biodiversity Guide)
c. Growing stock and advanced regeneration (preferably LIT species of appropriate form)
d. Deep rooted overstory of wind-firm LIT trees (SM, YB, WP, RO, WA)
e. Shallow rooted overstory of wind-firm LIT trees (RS, EH, WS, RM)
f. Deep rooted non-LIT overstory (RP, JP, WB)


Given we have waited 3-and-a-half months, these are pretty thin documents, with vague timelines for action and there is a lot of wiggle room.

In my mind, the extension of forestry licensing agreements by one year, given what’s going on and Minister’s defence of it, is not a good sign. Why could they not have at least implemented the directives issued and then withdrawn in September?

– For the time being, all forest management keys that direct you to non-clearcut treatments should be followed
– not allowing the clear cutting of trees that can grow and reproduce under a shaded canopy except in “exceptional circumstances,” including salvage
– Unacceptable growing stock is to no longer be a determining factor in prescribing a clearcut
– opportunities for a partial harvest should be considered where possible. When a clearcut is “the only reasonable” option, the department is to receive “a good description of the stand features for justification
– In an effort to increase biodiversity…patches of smaller, or immature wood within a stand should no longer be harvested simply for the sake of convenience and to clean up the site…”We should be looking for ways to increase the post-harvest heterogeneity of harvest areas,” he says.
– there shall be a 100-metre setback (buffer) between any clearcut treatment” and any of the province’s protected areas, candidates for protected designation, national parks and Nature Conservancy lands
View Post, Sep 19, 2018

How are Mr. Zwicker & Co and the government going to defend their harvest plans now?

We are just following the provincial guidelines when we clear cut a forest. The government says we can use the discredited processes for another year while we adapt.

There have been no changes in the upper echelons of DNR/L&F that have directed and justified the misuse of Crown lands and run the department like a military bunker defending Industrial Forestry practices over the past decade and more for the benefit of the big players.  It has come at huge cost to the rest of us and to the natural world and undermined  the longer term productivity of our forests and the capacity of our forests to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

So we wait another year… and as we can, do the government’s due diligence for them, clearcut by clearcut.


Addendum, Dec 4, 2018

From CBC Report

Lahey said he was pleased overall with the government’s plan, but had hoped to see more detail in response to his report.

“I would have liked for a little bit more boldness in terms of what they think they can accomplish, particularly in reducing the amount of clear cutting on Crown land.”

...And while Lahey predicted less clear cutting would lead to a reduction of Crown land wood supply of 10 to 20 per cent, Rankin disagreed.

We believe that we can sustainably grow this industry.”

Yup, the Industrial Forestry interests worked the spreadsheets and the politicians. From an ATV/Canadian Press report:

Jeff Bishop, executive director of Forest Nova Scotia, said companies in the forest sector are encouraged the province is taking more time to consider how to implement its ecological approach.

“I’m hoping at some point that we’ll all be in agreement with where this is going to move us,” said Bishop. “We think there is flexibility within the triad approach.”

Raymond Plourde (cited on CBC):

“On first blush, I mean, I think they get it and I think they’re trying to move in the right direction as far as Crown land goes.”

One area where Plourde was adamant on the need for more progress was biomass.

He said the only way he would support small-scale biomass energy projects using residual wood from sawmills is if the government stops the high-volume biomass generators in Liverpool and Port Hawkesbury. He also wants to see a banning of bulk exports of biomass to Europe.

“Our little landmass, our highly stressed forest cannot supply even a fraction of the biomass demand of Europe,” he said.

On a more positive note, the CBC reports that “The Nova Scotia government said it will ask Prof. Bill Lahey to review its progress as recommendations from his report are implemented.” I am guessing Prof. Lahey will want such reviews to be open and transparent.


A Comment on Social Media

S.H.: “From June 4th to November 29th, 2018 – the Department of Lands and Forestry made 17 announcements about proposed harvests affecting 631 parcels of Crown land, totaling 7776 Hectares or 19,274 acres which equals in size to 14,556.75 football fields. The majority – around 80-90 percent are clear-cuts. The Minister stated in the response to the Lahey Forestry Report: “In addition, Government will extend forestry licensing agreements by one year.This will allow time to begin the work required and, in the interim, provide continued access to Crown land for Crown licensees.” —- So those 19,274 acres were evaluated under a system that all pointed to clear-cuts. Is the government is going to allow them to harvest close to 20,000 acres of land in Nova Scotia over the next year that were approved under a system that is completely opposite from ecological forestry?”

Response: yes while industry adjusts. Then according to the script, the rest of us adjust to the industry being unable to adjust while the clearcut refugees all go to Hope for Wildlife

Minister of Lands and Forestry outlines clear cutting Policy (audio)
CBC Info AM Dec 5, 2018
Transcript posted by Shelly Hipson on Stop Spraying & Clear-Cutting In Nova Scotia (Public Facebook Group) on Dec 8, 2018:

CBC INFORMATION MORNING INTERVIEW: Iain Rankin is Nova Scotia’s Minister of Lands and Forestry. His in our studio with us now. Good morning Minister Ranking.

MINISTER: Good morning thanks for having me in today – thanks for coming in.

CBC: You hear what Mike was saying there. What are your thoughts about his concerns in this particular stand of wood – of what he calls a nature reserve and the trees that are in it?

MINISTER: So I’m familiar with the area. It’s actually near my constituency. And we did sit down just yesterday and met with Mike and this group and we know that they have issue with clear-cutting as a prescription. I do know that these pre-treatment assessments were put forward a couple of years ago. Some of the prescriptions have changed. They are not yet at the level where I would see them to see where I would integrated resource management team has suggested through that process. But I’ll go back to the Lahey Report to responded too clear in there that there are times where a clear-cut prescription is ecological accepted, ecological acceptable as a prescription and I’ll also point to our interim guidelines that anymore clear-cuts that are chosen as we follow the themes through the Lahey report will also be mandated to go through those interim guidelines that were put in place and are on-line and available where it asks for more retention of some of the long lived shade tolerant species that he is referencing in that

CBC: Does the Lahey report change how you look at and approve areas for clear-cuts?

MINISTER: It obviously automatically does. As soon as they go through the process those interim guidelines actually direct you to different key so there will be an immediate reduction in clear-cutting as a prescription and when clear-cutting is chosen as the appropriate prescription there is at least a 10-30 percent more retention above and beyond what’s mandated in the regulations for wildlife clumps and for setbacks from water courses. So clear-cuts will look differently and here will be a reduction of clear-cuting
So for an area like this that seems like it would be an area that would be protected based on everything we’ve heard Mike say there what has changed? What has change in terms of protecting it? Well the part about old growth that wasn’t mentioned yesterday – I need to look into that piece because if there is indeed there is a section there is an old growth forest that would be protected. Ah – I’ll go back to a process that pre-dated our government where there was a long consultative process to identify the lands that were most ecologically sensitive and had the biodiversity values that would go towards protection and there is 13.8 percent roughly of those areas of the province that have been slated for protection .This area that he is referencing, in this area is not in that list. So it is not in the proposed section for protection, um, that is not saying that it could not be protected in the future but at this point at this juncture it is a part of Crown land that is available for mix use, social, recreational and harvesting

CBC: For parcels of forested land that have already been approved to the clear-cut but haven’t been yet, will they still go ahead?

MINISTER: Yeah, there is a – we can’t grind industry to a halt. There was a process that we had in place to go through. Um. Analyzing what the appropriate prescription was and since the Lahey Report has come out, um, we were looking at those themes and insuring that we were asking for a retention and if there are any areas around protected areas, um, people are interested in setbacks we put in place, mandated 100 meter setbacks, so this has been changing over time. I do believe that we are getting to a place where there is foundational change on the ground. And especially since our response on any further approvals you’ll see some of the spirit and intent from those recommendations right away.

CBC: Why not though apply the triad model approach and ecological forestry principles of the Lahey Report to already approved clear-cuts since the end goal is to manage forests differently?

MINISTER: So we are beginning that process that looks to which is the most appropriate land to put high production forest and that’s an important part to ensure we have fiber for industry – and we are looking at St. Margaret’s Bay could be one of those areas that would be work for that type of forestry. As long as there are people that understand that there is that balance because that is the mechanism how we achieve ecological forestry. It’s not about eliminating clear-cutting. This report was clear that clear-cutting would be reduced when you put ecological considerations first which we endorse, ah, but this is about looking at the outcomes which is the mixed species, multi-age forest so we can manage the forest in that natural state, ah, we will be able to improve our practices overtime –

CBC: This just addresses Crown land. Why have you not addressed what will happen on private land in the terms of clear-cutting in your response to the Lahey Report?

MINISTER: Well we followed what the Lahey Report, the general thrust of that report really focused on Crown land Management. It is public land and Nova Scotians have shown great interest in how we manage public land. The response references generally about ¾ of the recommendations. We thought we would go along that same vein address the foundational recommendations in the report like the Forest Management Guides where you’ll see changes on the ground right away and once those become more advanced, we will look at those, at those aspects to private land and there could be some consultation as they recommended to look at before we make changes there.

CBC: And by more advanced, what kind of time-line are you talking about for finishing up out implementing the Lahey recommendations on Crown land?

MINISTER: So as speaking to the authors of the report, to get feedback they believed it would take time. The Forest Management Guide we put in a timeline of roughly 12 months. So we are looking at a year before that’s , we have a revised iteration. It’s important that we engage our stakeholders in this. Nova Scotians want to be involved in how the, we make these changes, and that is why it was important for us and for me, something in place that interim period, so that we give confidence that there will be changes right away. We think that we have hit that spot.

CBC: Your government announced Monday that it would be extending licenses for companies that cut wood on Crown land for another year. In the fall WestFor’s License was already extended for a year – would this mean that they actually have a two year extension or that one year that they already got WestFor, is the extent of it.

MINISTER: That’s the extent of WestFor, we had to make an extension because it was expiring, in the summer, so, we needed them on some kind of agreement. They could not operate without one. Um, this is a period of transition and because those timelines that we referenced with about a yea, we thought it was more prudent for us to give a shot term lease so the year, rather than some of the 20 year leases that we’ve seen over time. We need to get our foundational changes in place and embrace that ecological paradigm when we look at our practices, polices and some legislative changes and then once we get those in place and we have confidence that we have a different system then we can start to look at our potentially long term leases.

CBC: It sounds like 10-30 will be the reduction on Crown land, why those targets given those, I think that Lahey recommended a lot more of a reduction on clear-cutting?

MINISTER: Ah well, I have been hearing about this since our response and uh we should be clear that the report did not recommend targets. They estimated that if we followed the ecological forestry practices which we do endorse, that there would be a reduction down to the 20-25% range on Crown land and perhaps an increase on private land to mitigate some of the fibre differences but we believe that it’s important to look and fully embracing this model and making qualitative changes as opposed to governments in the past who have set a target which I have referenced as a political target, and then working backwards to find the science to justify that target – this is about stating with the science, incorporating all the best practices that we’ve learned from this report from across Canada and the State of Maine and working with Professor Lahey who we asked to come back and evaluate it so there’s an important accountability mechanism there, and we want to be more transparent as we go through this process to ‘yes’ we will reduce clear-cutting significantly but we will also find better ways to find retention on the ground so that we do nurture what people refer to as Acadian Forest, we can restore that Acadian forest and that’s what the mixed species, multi-aged does, then that protects wildlife, protects biodiversity and all the things that Nova Scotia care about.

CBC: If there is an increase on private land though, does that achieve those goals?

MINISTER: So private land, they have certain rights and responsibilities that would work with the private woodlot owners. A lot of them are doing excellent work in their own and we will ensure that they look at triad model and they have actually brought proposals forward which we are pleased to see as so if they emulate some of what we do I would expect that they would over time Programs to see how we can help provide some kind of support those types of goals.

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