“This department could do as much or more than the rest of the Government of Nova Scotia put together to mitigate global warming if it adopted just two policies: (1) recognized that the maintenance of intact forests is one of the most effective ways to mitigate climate change, and (2) recognized that harvesting and burning biomass to generate electricity absolutely does not create ‘green energy’” – Paul Pross
L&F provides terse periodic updates on their progress in implementing the recommendations of the Lahey Report, and I look to news items, articles in Atlantic Forestry Review and such for more nuanced perspectives.
Thus a summary and critique of the June 25 meeting written by Paul Pross and posted on the HFC Facebook site (a Public Group) is particularly welcome. It is reproduced below. I have added some bolding.
The DLF Ecological Forestry Forum June 25 2019
Outline and Impressions from Paul Pross
(Summarized by Helga Guderley)
The forum with a short speech by Iain Rankin (based on the May 31 update) followed by a longer presentation by Julie Towers outlining the seven projects that DLF has focused on. Julie Towers used overheads about the seven project areas that you can access at: https://novascotia.ca/natr/forestry/Forest_Review/
– Forest Management Guide: A priority for this summer with an end of year deadline for the initial draft. FOREST MANAGEMENT GUIDE
– High Productivity Forest: HIGH-PRODUCTION FORESTRY
o Phase 1 – criteria for areas, implications for wood supply, biodiversity aspects. Final report expected winter 2020.
o Phase 2 – detailed work : what will work, where?
– Natural Disturbance Regime: They have been advised by Taylor to ‘do more work’ on the agents of disturbance. Expect stakeholder input this summer. Towers emphasized the ecological effects of disturbance at the landscape level. NATURAL DISTURBANCE REGIMES
– Old Forest: They are updating the 2012 policy. Currently reviewing their methods for identifying old growth. Their focus is Crown land, though aware that they must look at private land. They expect to describe a restoration pathway in the FMG.OLD FOREST
– Outcomes: DLF sees its role as establishing values and monitoring the operationalization of the values by licensees. Currently establishing values and indicators. Wayne McIntyre is heading the project; van Damme is advising. Expected to finish by the end of 2020. OUTCOMES-BASED FOREST MANAGEMENT
– State of the forest: REPORTING ON THE STATE OF THE FOREST
– Small scale wood heat: Project involves eleven other departments (education, transportation, health, etc.) and ACOA. Experiments this year being made in 6 buildings to determine their energy needs and what criteria to use in selecting suitable sites. SMALL SCALE WOOD ENERGY INITIATIVE
– Species at Risk: A number of species teams have/are being assembled. Donna Hurlbert is leader. SPECIES AT RISK PROGRAM RENEWAL
In addition DLF is planning research in landscape planning; biodiversity; operations management; climate change and carbon management, old growth and advanced modelling. Consideration of revisions to the Crown lands Act has also begun.
Generally, I found the experience more enjoyable than I had expected. I felt that the tone was cordial and reflected the fact that the Lahey report had struck a chord at DLF and amongst those who attended. The DLF staff did seem to be listening carefully. For the most part they seldom responded with the pat answers that we have come to expect and on several occasions spent a few minutes after sessions, following up specific points with individual participants.
On the other hand, there have been frequent references to the fact that DLF must restore trust in its policy community and the public at large. I think the forum went a little way to achieve that, but only a little way. Some of those participating would bitterly disagree with my fairly positive assessment, feeling that this session was just another exercise in one-way communication. There is still far too much harvesting going on at sites like Wentworth Lake, and too much unwillingness to listen to local opinion. Suspicion and distrust continue to be the first reaction to DLF decisions and communications with the public. The forum indicated that DLF knows that it must change, but it also indicated that DLF doesn’t know how to do that.
For example, there was some validity to the reasons Minister Rankin gave for the choice of projects, but the choice itself suggested that forest production is still top of mind in the department. Despite the title of the forum, not a single break-out group was asked to explore the meaning and operationalization of ‘ecological forestry’. Biodiversity has acquired a new importance, but it clearly is not the pre-eminent concern that Lahey advocates in the introduction to his review and in Recommendation 19. Minister Rankin referred to the challenges posed by climate change, but there was little evidence to suggest that DLF is giving climate change mitigation the priority that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s dire predictions would warrant. Yet this department could do as much or more than the rest of the Government of Nova Scotia put together to mitigate global warming if it adopted just two policies: (1) recognized that the maintenance of intact forests is one of the most effective ways to mitigate climate change, and (2) recognized that harvesting and burning biomass to generate electricity absolutely does not create ‘green energy’.
These comments touch on major policy issues. Many critics of the Department would welcome policy changes along the lines I have indicated, but to restore trust between DLF and the public at large, much more must be done to introduce real public engagement. An example: recent changes in the PTA process mean that public input will be considered as part of that process, and not, as the add-on it has been in recent years. That is a step in the right direction. But it would be worth considering whether regional foresters should be encouraged to actually engage with the members of the public who try to present their views when harvest areas a publicized. Such engagement could lead to sensible compromises over harvesting plans. It would certainly recognize that members of the public who are familiar with their own neighboring forests are often much more knowledgeable about those forests than the ‘experts’ in Halifax, Truro and even regional offices. It would also do something to restore a capacity to connect the centre of the Department to public input at the local level.
– Paul Pross
Thx, PP, HG and the HFC