L&F nixes cut of Margaree Old Growth 20Mar2019

In 2019, not putting some old forest habitat on the chopping block is an advance in our thinking, but it is not a net improvement in the space for wild species in Nova Scotia which continues to decline

Old Yellow Birch

I had been hoping to see something upbeat  to report on the forestry front by Earth Day (Apr 22, 2019) and finally some good news arrived, or at least mostly good news. View:

Proposed cut of Margaree old growth stopped
Aaron Beswick in the Chronicle Herald Mar 20, 2019 (content currently available without subscription)

A proposed harvest of old growth forest in the Margaree area has been put on hold after a local resident raised concerns.

In February, Brian Peters wrote the Department of Lands and Forestry about a proposed 38-hectare cut in Coady Settlement. The pre-treatment assessment of the stand conducted by Port Hawkesbury Paper showed it to be one-third composed of yellow birch – a long lived climax specie of the Acadian Forest.

“I wish to emphasize that these older trees and old growth stands must be valued and retained as much as possible,” wrote Peters to the department.

The article describes how, in contrast to the slow response to concerns about cuts of OG expressed by Danny George last year, “Peters received an immediate response to his February email, along with a promise from department staff that they’d take another look at the area Port Hawkesbury Paper proposed to cut.”

I say mostly good news, because Peters expresses two concerns:
(i) that the OG was not identified by L&F trained independent forest technicians employed by Port Hawkesbury Paper to do the PTAs; and
(ii) “While the areas of old growth forest will now be protected, they will be adjacent to a series of proposed “overstory removal” cuts totalling 64 hectares of forest that is primarily composed of shorter lived black spruce and balsam fir”

So this victory for Peters is bitter sweet.

“To me, ‘overstory removal’ means a clearcut,” said Peters.

“And crucial to an old growth forest’s value for the ecosystem and to protect it from the wind is that it’s contiguous.”

Bev Wigney has commented that pretty well the same sequence of events occurred in regard to the Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes forest. Another recent example: The Coolen Lake site, nixed within one day last December.

Thx for your vigilance Brian Peters.
Thx for your reporting Aaron Beswick and Thx to the Chronicle Herald for making this item publicly available.


A bit of an update on L&F’s implementation of the Lahey Recommendations related to Old Growth

From the Recommendations:

17. Steps should be taken to improve the abundance and conservation of old forests, including the following:

a. Implementation of ecological forestry, with emphasis on long‐rotation stand development and multi‐aged stand structures.

b. Accelerated and improved data collection on the existence of old forests across all unprotected Crown lands. This could include improvements to the pre‐treatment assessment process, targeted field assessments, and advanced applications of spatial modelling (GIS) and data capture technology such as LiDAR.

c. Reconsideration of the area‐proportion targets in the Old Forest Policy, as well as potential inclusion of other tree species in the climax group (e.g., red oak, red maple).
This will require a targeted research program that, like other DNR initiatives, should become an inclusive process with participation of a suitable range of scholars and experts from various walks of life.

d. Addition of old‐forest restoration targets alongside the old‐forest protection targets in the policy.

e. Development of a silvicultural manual for old‐forest restoration.

The March 26, 2019 L&F Update  informed us that an Old Forest Project team had been formed and is “at the stage of developing work plans, which will include identifying the necessary expertise and stakeholder engagement.”

More information is provided in  the March 2019 issue of Atlantic Forestry Review which reports on the Forest Nova Scotia AGM held on Jan. 29, 2019*. One of the presenters was L&F biologist Mark Pulsifer who is leading three distinct initiatives (reappraisal of Nova Scotia’s current Forest Management Guides, addressing address natural disturbance regimes, and addressing old-growth forests); about the old growth initiative, AFR reports:

The third team under Pulsifer’s direction is tasked with addressing old-growth forests. The Lahey report calls for increasing the abundance of older stands – not just in protected areas, but on managed lands. It recommends accelerated and improved data collection, stronger area-proportion targets for old forests, and the development of a silviculture manual for old-forest restoration – underpinned by a targeted research program “with participation of a suitable range of scholars and experts from various walks of life.”

“Old growth has been in the media quite a bit around the province for the past year or more,” remarked Pulsifer. “We’re trying to come up with a different methodology or an improved methodology to identify old forests that’s not quite so labour-intensive. One of the teams will be dealing with that – the conservation and recognition of old-growth forests.” He said there will be a role for consultation on all three fronts, and communications plans are now being developed. “We will be looking forward to input at various levels. We’ll have to decide what’s the best vehicle to get that input, but we will be going out to stakeholder groups.”

*Implementation update- Forest NS presenters tread on common ground, and some uncertain territory

From the introduction to the article:

Dr. William Lahey, president of the University of King’s College, delivered the opening address at Forest Nova Scotia’s 2019 AGM on Jan. 29, discussing the independent forestry review he had completed for the provincial government six months earlier…In addition to hearing from Lahey on this topic, AGM attendees heard from a couple of the civil servants who have been tasked with implementation.

On the second day of the conference, Rany Ibrahim, director of economic development and trade with the provincial Department of Lands and Forestry (NSLF), talked about his role in setting up the new Wood Heat Initiative Intergovernmental Task Group, as per Lahey’s recommendation to explore opportunities for wood-chip heating in more public buildings.

While expanded institutional use of wood heat could be expected to get a strong endorsement from members of the forest industry, other Lahey recommendations cut a little closer to the bone. Mark Pulsifer, an NSLF biologist who has served with the department for 30 years, gave delegates an outline of his involvement as a team leader in the implementation process. He said his role is not that of an expert, but more of a project manager, leading three distinct initiatives, all having to do with the planning and practice of ecological forestry.

Forest-NS certainly got a heads-up before the rest of us, and was given much more substance than that provided by the terse, publicly distributed update issued March 26, 2019.

I have no problem with Prof Lahey and L&F bureaucrats talking to Industry groups. Well they should. But surely an equivalent effort should be made to inform and engage the rest of us.

Hopefully things will be different by Earth Day 2020.


Some comments on WWNS

Neal Livingston: My co-chair of the Margaree Env Assoc, Brian Peters and I worked to bring forward this story to the media. Port Hawkesbury Paper has FSC certification and should be called out of this by FSC. They have now I think 3 times been caught cutting or proposing to cut old growth. At this site near Margaree Forks as far as I can tell from the mapping it was to be about 100 acres of clear cutting of an old growth forest. Our information suggests that these hardwood logs would likely have gone to Irving’s hardwood mill in Sussex NB, and they would bring back bark from there to be burnt in the Nova Scotia Power biomass plant. It hardly gets worse than this, old growth cutting with FSC certification, and with the Nova Scotia government of approving it, until Brian Peters caught then about to cut this old growth forest.

DGP: Totally Agree x FSC. It’s also worth noting that not putting some old forest habitat on the chopping block is an advance in our thinking, but it is not a net improvement in the space for wild species in Nova Scotia which continues to decline.

DS: David Sampson So the takeaway is that the system can’t be trusted because the policing is in the hands of the offenders and it is left to private citizens to do the work of the department that is responsible and that our taxes pay for.

DR: That is good news!!! Clear cutting needs to be stopped especially at the headwaters of all rivers in NS. The Gov also needs to put in place enforceable riparian zones of at least 75 meters on waterways with heavy fines for going near them.

AI: They have been clearcutting in the Margaree headwaters for years.

SH: I don’t know which ’emotion’ to hit. I’m angry that people are still doing the job of big salary people at DNR. I’m sad to think of the places that are not being caught and special forests are being lost. And I like the fact that Brian Peters did what he did and saved an old growth forest.

Neal Livingston: About 10 years ago-15 years I went to an NSDNR Integrated Resource Management (IRM) consult session in Inverness, part of this had Kari Easthouse who then worked for Stora as their forest planner with his computer and software to look at any piece of forest. I asked about the area that is now the Chimney Corner wilderness area, as I thought it may have not been cut before. He called up this area on their mapping program, and saw right away that by spices and age that it had not been cut, and then changed the designation of this area to old growth right before me standing there, as previously it was called cut before. I walked out of the session pretty proud of having this done. I write this to illustrate that both Port Hawkesbury paper and NS Lands and Forests would without a doubt if anyone was doing their job properly have know on their more modern and sophisticated computer programs that this area was old growth. It’s not like the Herald reports the government and industry folks saying – they are just covering up their complicity in this.

BW (0n HFC): I’m particularly concerned about “the ones that got away” — the forests that have already been, or will be razed to the ground, because they were not properly evaluated — such as at Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes near Bridgetown. Supposedly, the largest canopy trees will now be spared from being removed, but this is *solely because* our group identified them, wrote letters, got media coverage and basically wouldn’t go away. That said, we still don’t have an official report on the final plans for the forest subsequent to Min. Rankin’s onsite visit on Feb. 1st. For all we know, it may already have been logged. Even if it hasn’t, we should all be concerned with just what kind of “treatment” such forests will receive once identified. I get the distinct impression that those in LAF believe that we are just “upset” over the loss of some “big trees” — without twigging onto the fact that our concerns have to do with destruction of ecological integrity in certain kinds of forests and that these “big trees” in multi-age forests are one of the most obvious markers that should be clueing everyone into the fact that these are not just some scrubby old woodlots. It’s very frustrating that this point seems to escape certain people’s understanding.

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