Has a conversation about forestry in Nova Scotia that is needed but difficult and awkward begun?

I am wondering if L&F’s next hire will be an expert in Social Media

I have commented recently on L&F Minister Rankin’s participation in Social Media discussion about forestry and lauded that participation. He left quite abruptly when something irked him; regardless I give him a lot of credit.

Much or most the discussion is arising because participants are now taking a great deal of interest in placement of new proposed cuts on the HPMV and the related PDF document that is mailed out to “subscribers” – anyone can see the map, but to get the PDF you have to subscribe. [As an aside, I can’t see why they don’t post those on the L&F website. It would be a big help to have a page with links to them, adding new ones as they come out.]

Anyway, it seems that now ForestryMaps (forestrymaps@novascotia.ca)  in L&F is beginning to respond directly to Social Media comments/questions, at least to those raised within the group Annapolis Royal & Area – Environment & Ecology (the one in which the L&F Minister participated; the group has been in place only since Oct 29, 2019):

Jan 9, 2019
Hi everyone. Just putting a couple of things up today before I get busy with work around my place. I must say I’ve been kept rather busy with our group and also dealing with a lot of forestry related correspondence. I expect you’re getting a bit sick of all of my posts. Anyhow, just a couple for today. This first one is my submission on the HPMV — made yesterday before the closing deadline for public comment on a large parcel of land near the Head of St. Margaret’s Bay. It is directly across a narrows from Scout Island where Scouts Canada has a campground frequented by both NS and scouts from across Canada. Unseen is that there has already been clearcutting adjacent to the “orange” parcel. My comments are usually more technical, but this time, I just couldn’t resist airing my *opinion* on such a lousy harvest proposal. (Screen grab of my comment on the HPMV input pop-up text box).

DGP (nsforestnotes): Thx Bev. I have kind of stopped writing to them because my comments are not acknowledged.. but I know they and a lot of other prov govt folks follow my posts on nsforestnotes.ca …

BW: Thanks for that comment and posting that image! I thought it interesting that, yesterday, about 30 minutes after I commented that I had had no reply from anyone I had sent emails to last week — I wrote “CRICKETS” – I received an email from Stephen McNeil’s assistant at the MLA office saying they were sorry for the delay in replying, etc… Hmm…. I should add that I have only received replies to HPMV comments a couple of times in the past. From now on, if I submit anything, I’m going to do just as I have above — a side-by-side of the map and my comment text.

SH: In my FOI POP I saw my comment and there was actually discussion whether to answer me or not. Pretty F%^&*# pathetic. Over and over again I read concerns – and nothing. On WestFors site they say that they are given a point system. No point system on the FOI POP information. This department needs to be TAKEN DOWN.

There is more, they talk about the need for more direct, public action.

Another example: there was discussion about ‘what is a salvage cut’, as the term had appeared on on the latest subscribed PDF as a type of harvest, and people had not seen it before. It didn’t take long for Forestry Maps to send out a message to all subscribers.

So, except for Minister Rankin’s participation, L&F is not responding directly on social media, but  to individuals on Social Media (who then share the response on Social Media), or they are responding to a broader e-mail group (The Subscribers) about comments made on Social Media(but not acknowledging the source of the comments.

So a discussion is beginning. It is facilitated by FB (Facebook)  but is awkward technically because of the way FB operates – FB is good for the here and now discussion, but old discussions are not organized in any way and a particular discussion that one might recall can be difficult to find later; URLs are sometimes hard to get (e.g., you copy one but it leads to some other point in a complex thread). It would drive me nuts if I wasn’t already so.

It’s difficult because emotions on the Social Media side get expressed (good), and sometimes expressed in language that clearly L&F would not use (at least not on Social Media). The L&F responses, obviously well thought out and discussed in an office are non-emotional. When Iain Rankin started to participate, that was a little different. Just by being there, he showed he cared about what was going on in Social Media; some greater emotion was  expressed when he evidently got irked by some remark and announced that the discussion was over – see Nova Scotia L&F Minister Rankin again joins discussion on Social Media 9Jan2019, ends it abruptly (Post on NSFN, January 9, 2019).

And as for the next comment, I respectfully do believe I [Minister Rankin] have more than an idea of environmental impacts but I am no expert. I guess this is where the discussion ends.

Hmmm, frayed nerves on both sides.

Another observation I will make. So far these interactions between L&F and Social Media groups have been largely about technical issues related to the HPMV. Gov is not commenting on the more encompassing issues that are being raised, and as far as I can see it was a discussion about the latter that irked Minister Rankin.

So a discussion is beginning via social media that is needed but awkward and difficult.

But it is a start.

I am wondering if L&F’s next hire will be an expert in Social Media.

On to encompassing issues and policy

ForestryMaps provides info about stand-level decisions and most of the discussion starts or centres on recently announced stand level proposals for harvest.   There is  no reference in the Map Viewer or in PTAs to landscape level factors such as the existing extent of cutting in the area on Crown or private land, or whether planned cuts will impact a wildlife corridor. Lack of attention to landscape level factors by L&F is a major deficiency identified by the Lahey report. Obviously if they do take into account landscape level factors, there would  be less cutting possible, or at least it would be more complicated and expensive. So perhaps that is the reason that Forestry Maps does not post all of old subscriber PDFs as those would reveal  the cuts in the past several years. Nor does the HPMV show landscape level mapping of things like Forest Development Stage although technically that should not be a big deal as it’s all to be found on the Provincial Landscape Viewer  (PLV) which has an identical format. That landscape level info is available on the PLV is not mentioned in the Intro to the HPMV.

So we need to move to the  difficult next step and begin a back and forth on landscape level aspects of forest harvests. There is a lot of that now on Social media, but L&F is not responding to such discussion.) L&F wants to take a year to begin to address landscape level factors in the PTAs etc and do it their way (without inout from outside) like Frank Sinatra. They did send out a directive that would have immediately put in place some key recommendations from the Lahey Report fairly quickly after the report was received, but then retracted them. (View NSFN post Sep 19, 2018).

But things are heating up in the meantime with talk of more demonstrations and even blocking harvesters, not to mention what looks like excessive cutting and stockpiling going on, so we need to get there (discussing landscape level aspects) sooner rather than later for the sake of both peace in Nova Scotia and for  wildlife.

We (all of us) might then, or at the same time,  discuss broader policy issues, such as how L&F makes its contracts and more, e.g, the following has come up recently social media:

BW: By the way — Something that needs to be said about all of this. If I was trying to procure forests for harvest — I would be making a point of *NOT* pissing off the locals so that they wouldn’t be up in arms, talking to the press, writing letters, raising shit, etc.. No, I would be very careful not to do things like posting applications to clearcut a large forest right across the water from Scout Island — or cutting down one of the only remaining “old forest” hardwood stands in Annapolis County next to a very scenic lake where tourists come to fish and paddle. I wouldn’t be posting an application to harvest right up to the boundary of KejimKujik National Park. I wouldn’t be returning to try to push through an application on a parcel that was already fought like hell over with locals just 2 or 3 years ago. To do so tells me one rather important thing. If they had somewhere else to get the kind of “product” they wanted, I think they would be going there first. The fact that they are trying to get their hooks into these kinds of parcels, or start duking it out with communities just a couple of years after going through the same fight, tells me that they are running out of “other” options.

KB: They are used to that, for years some people would not sell wood or in fact land to some companies due to scaling disputes, old boundary disputes, a multitude of reasons. The buyers would go around from owner to owner, farmers etc, always trying to secure a load of wood. Land would even be bought in other names etc…They don’t have as much a burden now with all this crown wood..
They also thought they were doing good management , however the Lahey Report did not agree..

BW: That rather goes without saying. What I am trying to get across is that you go for the lowest hanging fruit first — and they must have just about exhausted that supply – so now they are having to move into high stakes areas and duke it out with the locals – exposing themselves to public scrutiny. Otherwise, they would just continue to sneak around plundering the back woods out of sight and out of mind.

SH: DNR on their website shows that they were purchasing land in the millions over the years for the FORESTRY industry. Using our tax dollars. What I find interesting is that they stopped showing this on their website in 2014. Why I wonder? Maybe that requires a FOI POP. — I feel it is because the USA and Tariffs. – From what I understand it can’t be subsidized by the government – isn’t buying land for them to cut subsidization? Isn’t wood coming from Crown land – subsidization? https://novascotia.ca/natr/land/new-purchases.asp

[DGP (nsforestnotes)*]  I have to wonder. It’s more than coincidence to me that the new WestFor agreement was signed on the day the Free Trade deal was signed (Oct 1, 2018), although the WestFor Agreement was not formally announced and that it had been signed only came out later via CBC .  It’s like WestFor/L&F were waiting for the trade deal to be signed before they signed the contract, if so, Why? ‘Just askin’.
* This is paraphrased. I couldn’t find the related posts when I went back to look (re, the way FB operates as mentioned above) and I am still not sure whether  my longer diatribe  was actually ‘published’.

By the way… on NSFN I make posts in the public arena but do not permit comments (an option in WordPress). That’s because when I have tried it, 99.9% of what comes in unrelated (spam), and I wasn’t anxious to moderate such discussion time-wise. Facebook is much better at handling discussions, so I checked out another option: Mike Parker on his Woods and Waters Nova Scotia Facebook page hosts civil discussion of forestry issues and makes a post about most my posts. I asked Mike, is it OK if I direct people who want to comment on my posts to WWNS, and he said yes. So that’s what I have recommended and often I respond on WWNS.

I may not respond to comments about this post for a while as I am Getting of Dodge for a while, which may relieve some (including myself).

Maybe, L&F could stop the harvesting for a while, so we can all recover and reflect…

One final comment as I can’t shut up – I am enthusiastic about what’s happening on Social Media because I think it will lead to resolving the issues. A thought about the process: Interacting in Social Media in the way it has been occurring in relation to forestry issues is not the same as meeting face-to-face in a room, nor is it equivalent to school mates interacting with friction on Facebook. For the most part, in this expanding discussion, most of the participants have not met personally with the people they might be criticizing strongly and sometimes with profanities thrown in.  However that anger is not against the person (who they don’t know in most cases), it’s against what the person is saying. It’s important to separate the two. I think of it as I might  about a neighbour that I really like personally, even though we have very different perspectives on one non-personal issue or another; somehow or another you don’t let the differences in opinion influence the personal relationship. (The same would apply to agreeing with someone I know and consider a total prick.) So it doesn’t bother me if someone I don’t know personally is using some f_words in response to something I say. I address the concerns, not the f-words.

That doesn’t mean foul language should be tolerated by the moderator indefinitely. F__k or $#$^%$# are OK. Mike Parker issues 2 warnings and then they are out (blocked from participating). [Message from Woods and Waters Nova Scotia:Just for the record. This piece states that W&WNS allows spewers of profanity two chances before blocking them from participating. Such is not the case. Efforts are made to give offenders an opportunity to clean up their act but there is no hard and fast two-strike rule. Depending upon the situation it can just as easily be one & done. Just sayin]

Also you can simply leave a discussion that is making you p__d off, and probably no one will notice or ask why you left…(versus someone leaving a room). Iain Rankin, the only Government rep who has joined these discussions left with an announcement that the discussion was over. That makes it harder for him to rejoin if he thinks he wants to, while if he just stopped participating, there would be no issue, no contradiction and no surptise if he became active again. (I think however if he did that, it would be appreciated by most, and not seen as going back on his word.) We are all learning.


Just in… Another proposed harvest that is upsetting local residents and nature lovers

Shelly Hipson
January 13 at 7:39 PM

THE TIME IS NOW for politicians, leaders, community folk,… and is not going back

Shelly Hipson in Stop Spraying & Clear-Cutting In Nova Scotia

The genie is out of the bottle and it won’t go back.


after only 20 hrs, Shelly Hipson’s video had 2,173 views.

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