Whether and How L&F responds to these critiques and actively engages all Nova Scotians going forward will be telling
On May 30, 2019, an e-mail went out from Lands & Forestry to 150+ people inviting recipients to “Hold the Date for an Ecological Forestry Forum” to be held in Truro on Tuesday June 25, 2019, Place TBA.” Those invited are apparently “people who participated in the process to develop Lahey’s report” . View pp 6-11 in the Addendum to the Lahey Report for a list of participants.
In the 10 months between the release of the Report on the Independent Review of Forestry Practices (Aug 21, 2018, often cited as the “Lahey Report”) and this first extended report from L&F on progress towards implementing the recommendations of the report, little has changed in the way forestry is practiced on Crown lands. That has hardly gone unnoticed. Over the past year, we have seen widespread expression of concern about climate change, destruction of forests for biomass energy, and species extinction globally and locally – the latter specifically in relation to forestry in NS, as recorded in posts and under In the News and Social Media Posts on this website.
Two recent documents released by groups concerned about forests and forestry in Nova Scotia underscore these concerns:
– SOME URGENT FORESTRY QUESTIONS TO ANSWER BY ALL MEMBERS OF THE NOVA SCOTIA LEGISLATURE with Critical Background Information
By the Nova Scotia Healthy Forest Coalition (HFC), this document was released just before or coincident with the late May announcement of the June 25 public info event cited above. “…Despite the completion of the Lahey report and Minister Rankin’s acceptance of its findings, public dissatisfaction has continued to grow.” The Healthy Forest Coalition, formed in 2016, provided a lot of input to the Independent Review, and will be well represented at the June 25 event.
– PRE-CONFERENCE STATEMENT by the The Annapolis Royal & Area Environment & Ecology Group
This group, organized as a Facebook group, came together in the fall of 2018, with a focus on natural history but inevitably got drawn into forestry issues because of the intensive logging of old forests in Annapolis Co. With another group based in Shelburne (Stop Spraying & Clear-Cutting In Nova Scotia) and following on the example of Danny George in eastern NS, they conducted their own assessments of lands proposed for logging, and inadvertently exposed serious errors and omissions by L&F in the processes for approving Crown lands for harvest. Most or all of the members of the Annapolis group are not on the invitee list for the June 25 event, some from the Shelburne group (formed in 2016) may be. Their Pre-Conference Statement, provided on their Facebook page, is reproduced below. It underscores the need for community involvement in management of Crown land forests.
Forest Manifesto – Ecology group seeks community input, protection of wildlife, ecosystems, and biodiversity
Lawrence Powell in the Annapolis County Spectator, June 24, 2019
Whether and How L&F responds to these concerns and actively engages all Nova Scotians going forward will be telling.
The Annapolis Royal & Area Environment & Ecology Group PRE-CONFERENCE STATEMENT: On Tuesday, June 25, 2019, the Department of Lands and Forestry is holding what is being referred to as an “Ecological Forestry Forum” in Truro. Invitees are those considered to be stakeholders who had some involvement in William Lahey’s Forestry Report (we are not among those invited). Over the past few days, a group of us collaborated to produce a “stakeholder” report for our communities which have not been adequately consulted or represented in the Report or development of policy. This is the statement which we are distributing in advance of the forum in Truro.
ECOLOGICAL FORESTRY: Communities Forging The Path For The Future
(Pre-conference Briefing Notes from the Annapolis Royal & Area Environment & Ecology Group)
DATE: June 22, 2019
WHO WE ARE: The Annapolis Royal & Area Environment & Ecology Group is a 450 member group of citizens – the majority residing within the County of Annapolis. Our focus is on environmental issues of importance to our community. Of particular concern are matters related to the forest industry in our county.
GENERAL STATEMENT: On June 17, 2019, the House of Commons passed a motion to declare a national climate emergency in Canada. On May 6, 2019, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released its report stating that over a million species are on the verge of extinction. Within that framework, our group is advancing the following response to the Lahey Report. The report emphasizes the need to shift away from current forestry practices to ones that give priority to the protection and maintenance of natural ecosystems and biodiversity. The report also calls for greater community input. With these directives in mind, here are our group’s recommendations:
1.) LISTEN — AND WORK **WITH** OUR COMMUNITIES. We need a comprehensive and open Crown land-use planning process that identifies areas according to their intended use. Possible uses may or may not include forestry activity. This planning process must begin with consultation with communities, including First Nations communities. Everyone in a community must have a real chance to get involved. Scientific, traditional, local, economic interests must be considered together. We have people in our communities who are experts regarding wildlife. There are people who know the history of the land and the cultural significance of certain sites and features. For too long, it has been assumed that Crown land is all available for logging. Our voices and our input have not been considered until the final step in the harvest approval process — after everything has been decided. This must change.
2.) INDEPENDENT, EXPERT ASSESSMENTS WITH OVERSIGHT
Where forestry activity is found to be appropriate, pre-treatment assessments (PTAs) should nonetheless include the option of no treatment. For example, in forests subject to windthrow, clearcutting must not be the only option. This must be reflected in new Forest Management Guides (FMG) and the PTA process, which must also include proper wildlife surveys and assessments conducted by qualified specialists. Rare plant occurrences and assemblages should be recorded. All harvest operations must make use of certified tree markers using best practices for retention of trees for wildlife habitat and for the benefit of our forests. Culturally significant areas, particularly where artifacts may be present, should be assessed and protected before and during any work. Oversight of forestry activities must be independent and penalties for violations enforced. Any harvest plans approved under the previous FMGs that have not yet been executed should be cancelled and re-assessed using newer ecological forestry criteria.
3.) PRESERVATION OF OUR ACADIAN “OLD FORESTS”
Old mixed hardwood forests, whether or not they meet the exact classification of an Old Growth Forest, are so rare and so ecologically valuable, we are calling for an immediate halt to any cutting in these forests until a new model of sustainable, ecological forestry has been established. The Lahey Report notes that the current system of forestry does little to preserve “old forests”. There are precious few such forests remaining in the province. Old growth forests that were in theory protected under current regulations have been cut. There must be a serious effort to identify those forests which retain the characteristics and qualities of old forests. The presumption should be that old forests will be allowed to mature without intervention in order to rebuild the province’s supply.
4.) HARM REDUCTION TO WILDLIFE: Every precaution must be taken to ensure that wildlife are not disturbed or killed during forest operations. The Migratory Bird Conventions Act states very clearly that birds, their nests, eggs and young cannot be destroyed — whether willfully or as incidental take. Forestry operations must not occur during peak nesting season for birds, or at the critical times for the reproduction of mammals, reptiles and amphibians. As well, we must make a better effort to identify areas where Species At Risk occur and the habitats they require – and then allow sufficient habitat for them to thrive. Habitat preservation and the creation of interconnected wildlife corridors are essential to the restoration of biodiversity in our depleted forests.
5.) WATERSHED PROTECTION: As climate destabilizes, it is imperative that we protect our watersheds properly. This requires understanding the hydrology of all forests to prevent flooding, leaching of nutrients, and drought damage. Buffer zones should be increased and must be respected. There should be no harvesting in wooded swamps.
The Lahey report calls for a dramatic reduction in clearcutting. This must be implemented immediately. The unique nutrient poor soils in southwestern Nova Scotia are subjected to further nutrient depletion under clearcut systems, and lose ability to grow new healthy forests. Clear cuts (including uniform shelterwoods, variable retention cuts, seed tree release cuts, etc) are death sentences for wildlife, destroy the ecology of a forest, release carbon from forest soils, damage watersheds and deprive neighbouring communities of places of beauty and respite. Tourists we seek to attract to our province are shocked and upset by these devastated landscapes. Responsible stewardship requires an *immediate* end to such widespread destruction of our public lands.
This paper prepared by: Bev Wigney, Angelika Waldow, Debbie Stultz-Giffin, Sue Skipton, Nina Newington, Darlene Karamanos, Donna Conyers, Olga Comeau.