Logging at Nova Scotia’s Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes Crown land NOW officially on-hold 15Jun2019

It was obviously good news, but no one was singing ‘The strife is o’er, the battle done.’

One of many cavity trees  in as-yet unharvested areas at Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes forest, June 15, 2019

UPDATE JUNE 17, 2019:
Clarity on the Migratory Birds Convention Act
Listen to The Migratory Birds Convention Act regulations are getting an update
Information Morning A.M. Halifax June 14, 2019 “Canada’s Migratory Birds Convention Act makes it an offence to destroy migratory bird nests. The person in charge of the migratory bird act says logging companies should avoid destroying nests to avoid breaking the law.”

and Today (June 17, 2019):
A naturalist says logging companies should stop operations (audio)
CBC Info AM-Halifax, June 17, 2019. “Nova Scotia’s Minister of Lands and Forestry has put a hold on a controversial proposed logging operation involving Crown land in Annapolis County. Minister Iain Rankin has ordered Westfor to stop operations because he received information from the public that species-at-risk have been identified on the site. Naturalist Scott Leslie has documented the migratory birds in the area. He spoke to Information Morning’s Phlis McGregor.”

It seems likely it wasn’t only the “feedback of staff and the public” that changed the Minister’s mind.

ORIGINAL POST (June 15, 2019)

Within a few days of firmly turning down Annapolis County’s request for a freeze on logging at the Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes forest, L&F Minister Iain Rankin reversed track:

Lands and Forestry News Release
June 14, 2019 – 3:06 PM
Ministerial Statement, Harvest Plan on Hold
NOTE: The following is a statement from Iain Rankin, Minister of Lands and Forestry.

Over the past few days I have heard from concerned community members and recently received information that points to there being species at risk in the proposed harvest area between Dalhousie and Corbett Lakes in Annapolis County.

As the Minister of Lands and Forestry it is my duty to ensure responsible management of forestry practices while protecting the province’s biodiversity.

I have ordered Westfor to put a hold on the harvest until further investigation can be done.

I take the feedback of staff and the public very seriously. We have an opportunity to engage further with community members as the department reviews evidence put forward. I will continue to ensure decisions are made based on science and evidence with a focus on ecological conservation and protecting the province’s wildlife.

Also View
Harvest Halted – Rankin cites species at risk concerns, puts hold on Crown forest cut south of Bridgetown
Lawrence Powell in www.kingscountynews.ca, June 14, 2019. Some extracts:

[Naturalist/photographer Scott] Leslie said late Friday afternoon it was heartening to hear the minister’s response to the concerns over logging of the forest area at Corbett Lake.

Annapolis Market, June 15, 2019

“The combined efforts of many individuals, including the women who spent many days camping at the site in tents, are what was needed to get the province of Nova Scotia to take seriously how critical it is we take care of migratory birds and the places they live and all of biodiversity,” Leslie said.“My sincere hope is that this will be a departure point into a new, more sustainable, and more ecologically sane way of treating and benefiting from the wildlands of this beautiful province,” he said. “Our determination to push forward with constructive change has been energized.”

Naturalist Bev Wigney from nearby Round Hill, who discovered the unique biodiversity of the Corbett Lake forest when she lead about 20 concerned residents on a walk through the woods on Boxing Day, said Rankin made the correct decision.

The story also made the Canadian Press:
Small bird seen swooping over N.S. forest helps naturalists bring halt to logging
By Staff, The Canadian Press, on Global News June 15, 2019 . Some extracts:

A group of small birds that naturalists spotted swooping over a Nova Scotia forest has helped convince the province to order a halt to further logging in the area.

The province’s minister of lands and forestry announced today that he’s ordering an investigation into a proposed harvest in about 80 scenic hectares of mixed forest between two lakes in Annapolis County.

Iain Rankin says he’s basing his decision largely on the recent spotting of chimney swifts, listed as an endangered species in Nova Scotia, along with other community feedback opposing logging in the forest between Dalhousie and Corbett Lakes.

Naturalist Scott Leslie, the author of seven books on natural history, filmed images of the darting flight of the chimney swifts and provided the information to the department.


I was informed of this news shortly after I arrived in the Annapolis area on Friday afternoon (June 14, 2019) to participate in a ‘March for the Birds’  in Annapolis Royal the next morning, and to join a walk at the Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes site in the afternoon.

It was obviously good news, but no one was singing ‘The strife is o’er, the battle done.’

Sound of Silence at Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes forest. June 15, 2019

Thanks to the very determined women who ensured that nesting birds in as-yet unlogged areas of the Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes forest are safe for another season



Discussion on the NatureNS listserv

From: naturens-owner@chebucto.ns.ca [mailto:naturens-owner@chebucto.ns.ca] On Behalf Of John Kearney
Sent: June 17, 2019 9:40 PM
To: naturens@chebucto.ns.ca
Subject: [NatureNS] Bird Habitats

Hi All,

Most birds in Nova Scotia are migratory and thus occupy four different kinds of habitat over the course of a year; breeding habitat, aerial habitat, stopover habitat, and winter habitat. Birds are subject to increasing levels of human-induced mortality in all of these habitats.

Mortality in breeding habitats is particularly worrisome since it can involve the death of all the young of local populations as in the case of clearcutting. The relationship between local and regional populations is not well understood or documented. There is scientific evidence that adult forest birds show fidelity to a breeding site while yearling birds disperse. We don’t know how resilient these adult birds are to landscape changes when they return in the next breeding season, and if there is a threshold of change at which resilience is no longer possible.

Since a great part of our migratory birds are neotropical migrants, they spend a very large part of the year flying to and then flying back from Mexico, and Central and South America. One has only to look at a satellite photo of North America at night to see how this aerial habitat is highly polluted by lights which disorient migrants, causing death by exhaustion or from collision into wind turbines, gas flares, and urban buildings. Birds from all types of breeding habitats are represented in this aerial habitat and the piles of dead birds collected in a morning on a city block represent birds of the fields, forests, and wetlands.

During this voyage, the Nova Scotia birds must come down in the morning to refuel. As they get further from Nova Scotia, the availability of habitat similar to their breeding habitat may decline or refueling for long-distance flight might require quite a different diet than one for nourishing nestlings, and hence quite a different type of habitat. At the Mount Auburn Cemetery in the middle of the city of Boston, one will find hundreds of forest birds in the ornamental trees surrounding the groomed lawns and quiet pools of the large cemetery. In these stop-over habitats birds may be particularly vulnerable to predation by cats and other predators, like the Peregrine, that specialize in hunting in open areas like cities and coastal thickets.

Birds spend the winter in habitats that are under increasing levels of destruction and disturbance through the growth of coffee plantations, other types of deforestation, mining, tourism, and urbanization. Mortality in these winter areas is not well understood but appears to be very substantial for some species.

Finally, on top of all these threats to birds, is climate change which drastically affects all four of their habitats.

Conservation efforts are required on a very broad front, and habitat preservation and restoration are a continent-wide problem affecting the survival of Nova Scotia’s birds.


and a response:

John and Nhung <nhungjohn@eastlink.ca>
Jun. 18 at 6:43 a.m.

Yup, we sure present migratory birds (and a lot of other species) with a bewildering number of challenges, as we reduce the challenges ma nature throws our way. Gonna be interesting to see how it ends, but I hope I get to do without that level of excitement. We do have an ethical obligation as a species to do what we can to do unto them as we would have nature do unto us. What goes around comes around.

Anyway, I’m preaching to the converted.

Makes me think of a conversation I had with a coupla guys about ten days ago. I was waiting for my number to be called and was talking about the work our group (Tusket River Environmental Protection Association) is doing to protect some rare lakeside plant species in the catchment.

The question I got was, “What good are they?”

I appreciate that question. It tells me we still have an enormous amount of public education to do, if we want a critical mass of the public to support some of the worthy initiatives we espouse.

…. followed by

John — Your anecdote brings to mind a “private message” received a
few days ago on facebook — sent to me by someone connected with the
forest industry who was browbeating me about how the naturalists and
environmentalist don’t know anything about wildlife and are an
embarrassment to Nova Scotians.  This person said we shouldn’t be
making such a fuss about birds because they are only here for a few
weeks and then they fly away and are gone.  I sincerely doubt that
this “expert on wildlife” even has a clue about *why* the birds are in
Nova Scotia in summer.  Doubtless, they think they reproduce elsewhere
in the world and are just here for their summer vacation.

An earier discussion

>> From: naturens-owner@chebucto.ns.ca [mailto:naturens-owner@chebucto.ns.ca]
>> On Behalf Of Bev Wigney
>> Sent: June 17, 2019 12:30 PM
>> To: naturens
>> Subject: [NatureNS] Good interview about nesting migratory birds on
>> Information Morning today
>> All,
>> As many of you know, I’ve been quite involved for some time
>> (understatement) in trying to get LAF to acknowledge and pay serious
>> attention to ecology and conservation issues at Corbett-Dalhousie Lake
>> Forest here in Annapolis County. You will probably have read that
>> after the discovery of Chimney Swift activity at the forest, and
>> probable nesting in the huge Yellow Birch of that forest that have
>> numerous hollows and cavities — and then other migratory species on
>> territory — and the confirmation of at least one nest in the centre
>> of the forest — a hold was finally called on operations late Friday
>> afternoon. (Sigh of relief — for a little while, at least).
>> Anyhow, if you’ve been following the news, you’ll have heard that
>> certain individuals in the forestry industry have been stating that
>> logging crews are trained to watch for and avoid bird nests during
>> harvest operations, but there was an admission that sometimes nests
>> are probably destroyed – Information Morning interview last week.
>> An interview was made on Friday — with Scott Leslie — who spent most
>> of last week out at Corbett Lake searching for Swift nesting trees and
>> other migratory bird nests. He must have been interviewed earlier on
>> Friday before the Minister’s public announcement about the hold on
>> operations. I think many of you would find the interview with Scott
>> of interest. This link should take you directly to the podcast.
>> https://tunein.com/podcasts/Morning-Shows/Information-Morning-Nova-Scotia-p1781
>> bev wigney
>> Round Hill

> On 6/17/2019 3:10 PM, John and Nhung wrote:
>> The forest ecosystems of Nova Scotia owe you big-time, Bev. You get the
>> credit for starting this particular train rolling. If this leads to a
>> moratorium (or better still, a ban) on logging during nesting seasons,
>> well … I think we should all do what we can to maintain the momentum
>> which has been started in that direction.

On 6/17/19, David Webster <dwebster@glinx.com> wrote:
> Hi John and all,
> Just to be the Devil’s Advocate, one should bear in mind that,
> while or shortly after birds are learning to fly a great many suffer
> collisions with motor vehicles. As an order of magnitude guess I suspect
> about 100 times as many die on highways as in logging operations. After
> all, logging involves about 1% of woodland annually year round and if
> the critical nesting period spans two months then the area involved is
> (1/6)% or one part in 600.
> Should one be required to walk ahead of motor vehicles during this
> period, blowing a horn during daytime and swinging a lantern at night ?
> Dave W, Kentville

—–Original Message—–
From: naturens-owner@chebucto.ns.ca [mailto:naturens-owner@chebucto.ns.ca] On Behalf Of Bev Wigney
Sent: June 17, 2019 6:02 PM
To: naturens@chebucto.ns.ca
Subject: Re: [NatureNS] Good interview about nesting migratory birds on Information Morning today

Hi David, and all,

One of the major problems that I have with comparisons that involve
cats, road collisions, window collisions, and habitat destruction, is
that it seems to be assumed that the same species of birds are evenly
distributed across areas of remote woodlands, marshes, city parks,
McMansion suburbia, apple orchards, and seashores. That’s really not
giving much credit to certain types of forest providing very specific
habitat for birds that favour remote woodlands, “old forest” hardwood
stands, Black Spruce wetlands, and so on.

Let’s take, for example, Corbett-Dalhousie Lake’s hardwood stand in
Annapolis — a truly wonderful area where you won’t hear the sound of
a vehicle for hours, or barely a plane flying over throughout a whole
day. I posted a bird list for it last week — that Scott Leslie and a
couple of other experienced birders (and research people) also counted
in that forest:
Blackburnian warbler
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Yellow-rumped warbler
Black and White Warbler
Red-eyed vireo
Blue-headed vireo
Yellow-bellied sapsucker
Winter wren
Northern waterthrush
Northern parula
Spotted sandpiper (at the shore)
Eastern wood pewee
Northern goshawk

I’m expect you could have at least 2 or 3 off of that list in your
Wolfville backyards, but really — Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird,
Northern Parula, Blackburnian Warblers, Black-throated Blue, or
Black-throated Green Warblers? Somehow that strikes me as unlikely.
I’m guessing that you might see more Bluejays, Cardinals, Robins,
Starlings, Song Sparrows and others that I would think of as being
more “urban” or “suburban” birds that have become very tolerant of
human noise and activity.

Now, if we all devoted a lot more serious effort to “road ecology” —
similar to that done by Dr. Fred Schueler (a long-time member of this
list) or Kari Gunson — co-authors of the recently published
“Wildlife on Roads: A Handbook,” we might be able to speak with some
authority on which species of birds are being killed by auto
collisions, or collisions with windows, and that might even take care
of the “cat theory” as well. The birds mostly likely to fall victim
to those deaths are, I would imagine, the more suburban and urban
dwellers, and not those that reside in isolated forests. In my many
visits to Corbett-Dalhousie Lake, I have barely seen a moving vehicle.
There are no glass windows. There are no cats. I have found no
road-killed birds. However, there is plenty of clearcutting and
partial cutting, and variable harvesting, and all the “other” cutting
that we’re being told is done as alternatives to clearcutting — most
of which remove more than 70 percent of the trees — and sometimes as
much as 80 to 100 percent. I suspect that fledglings being hit by cars
are the least of a bird’s problems out there.

If I sound a little jaded on the car collision and cat theories that
are so often trotted out by certain individuals at Min. of Environment
and Min. of Lands and Forestry as being the “real culprits” for bird
death, I apologize. I guess I’ve just seen too much of what’s going
on out here in “real bird country” and not so much of what’s going on
in “city and suburban bird country”, or along roadways through farming

I think we all need to get with it and begin approaching this topic
seriously — realizing that many of our most threatened species are
not going to be saved by putting up bird feeders and bird houses to
replace the more remote and varied habitat which they require in order
to survive.

bev wigney
Round Hill

On 6/18/19, David Webster <dwebster@glinx.com> wrote:
> Hi Angus and All,
> Traffic on NatureNS has become overwhelming.
> If Swift activity or noteworthy nests were located in a block
> scheduled for cutting how large an island of trees would have to be left
> to avoid disturbance ?
> I am wondering if the potential conflict between logging and
> nesting activity could be neutralized by clear marking (by interested
> bird watchers) of nesting/roosting activity.
> DW, Kentville

Bev Wigney <bkwigney@gmail.com>

Jun. 18 at 10:31 p.m.
Bev Wigney
To David and all,

Habitat destroyed: downed hollow trees by forest road at Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes forest, June 15, 2019

At Corbett-Dalhousie Lake where Swifts are being seen low over the
forest at intervals throughout the day — seen by as many as 50 people
a week ago Sunday — the “problem” is that the hardwood stand has many
very large Yellow Birch with cavities — sort of typical of those
trees. Bernard Forsythe came out to the forest to look for nests and
tentatively identified a “possible” nest tree for the Swifts, but as
far as I know, this has not been confirmed and there are other very
suitable trees throughout the area. Unfortunately, on the part of the
same hardwood stand that was actually logged last autumn, quite a few
“hollow” or “cavity trees” were cut down — and they are lying in the
mud out in the log yard — although lately, I notice that they are
gradually being spirited away. They should have been left standing
where they would have provided nesting habitat for birds, flying
squirrels, porcupine, or other creatures. I expect eventually what
remains of the hollow trees will be hauled off to be chipped for
biomass for one of the mills. In any case, this is the “problem” with
not doing proper tree marking. You have operators guessing which
trees to fell and then finding they have cavities or a hollow area in
the trunk and they end up hauled out of the forest and tossed in the
cull log pile. If qualified tree markers were employed, as I am told
is the law on Crown land forest in Ontario, maybe there wouldn’t be so
much “accidental destruction” of trees suitable for wildlife.
Unfortunately, that seems to be too complicated and high tech for the
forest industry here in Nova Scotia, so we continue to do things the
old “by guess and by golly” way.

bev wigney
round hill, ns

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