Don Wilson on Biodiversity in and for Nova Scotia 27July2019

Two approaches to forest management in Nova Scotia: LEFT: even aged management/short rotations. RIGHT: Selective harvesting only, high standing volume maintained. The latter but not the former would be eligible for carbon offset credits, and conserves old forest biodiversity

Monday, July 29, 2019 is the final date for submitting comments on the proposed Biodiversity Act. Don Wilson shares his perspectives on how forestry can be practiced to protect biodiversity in Nova Scotia.

L&F conducted a Biodiversity Act Consultation over the period July 17 to July 25 with five sessions- July 17, Halifax; July 19, Caledonia; July 23 Bible Hill evening; July 24 Bible Hill morning; July 25 Membourtou. The process by which people were informed or invited was obscure but most or all who asked for an invite once they learned about it, received one, or just attended.

Monday, July 29, 2019 is the final date for submitting comments via View the presentation deck from the consultation sessions, and the information package that went to invitees here.

Don Wilson, a “Member of the Healthy Forest Coalition and an owner of an Acadian forest acreage”, was one of approximately 25 in the July 23 Bible Hill evening session which I attended and had prepared a formal submission.   I asked if I could post it on NSFN, to which he agreed. I have added some bolding and images.



Biodiversity is very important to more than Nova Scotia’s Forests. Harvesting the forests in Nova Scotia can and is having a major negative affect on all forms of life; Birds that eat insects, Animals that eat insects and Fish that spawn in N.S. streams. Clear cutting always reduces the water table in an area larger than the clear cut area. Harvesting trees during the early spring months often tears up the forest soils so badly that natural regeneration is severely delayed, and, so badly that replanted seedlings don’t survive in large numbers .

The Migratory Bird Act should be considered when harvesting forest trees especially in the spring time. There must be better oversight by L & F personnel prior to a harvest or major thinning and selection harvesting. Most birds eat insects – especially insects that cause harm to trees. Swallows used to numerous over most of N.S. but due to loss of habitat they are far fewer, allowing mosquitos to increase population and carry disease to humans. Other birds eat ticks that carry disease. Still Other birds prefer the seeds of weeds and thus serve to reduce the weed population.

Forest harvesting during Spring months tends to see huge ruts made by heavy forest machinery. This destroys the fragile soils – often acidic in much of N.S. Harvesting during the winter months allows less tree moisture in the logs and far less soil damage.

Thus winter harvesting has two major benefits: Migratory birds arriving in the spring can nest and multiply and forest soils see far less damage. Less soil damage allows better and sooner natural tree regeneration and lessens the soil that washes into brooks, streams and creeks that fish spawn in.

Landscapes in SW Nova Scotia are critically low in nutrients (notably calcium) essential for the health of both forests and aquatic systems;  clearcuts increase existing stresses.

Soil testing should be carried out soon after a clear cut or major harvest. Most soils will require pelleted lime so as to hasten tree seedling growth. Other soils will need municipal compost spread around planted seedlings and natural seedlings sprouting. This also tends to reduce weeds that compete for soil moisture and food. In Finland they fertilize replanted seedlings using helicopters. In Quebec Domtar has used compost around every seedling – this helps to retain moisture and adds nutrients to speed tree growth. More seedlings survive .

The typical Acadian forest mix of trees allow for better bird nesting trees. Spraying a Glyphosate herbicide reduces the food supply for birds and forest animals. This forces the animals out into Urban areas to feed. Deer and Black bear are increasingly moving to or near residential areas. This is made worse by Humans that feed these animals. Evergreen thickets mixed within the Acadian Forest should never be harvested as deer and moose will and do return to the same winter ” yards ” every winter. Too many clear cuts surrounding Truro over the past 15 years have forced deer and black bear into the Town seeking food.

Clear cuts are reducing the inventory of trees that should still be growing in size by about 5% per year in volume. If left to grow, these trees increase in value every year AND absorb CO2 and other emissions every growing season . Currently the inventory of saw log size trees is reducing every year. Linda Pannozzo has written extensively about the fast approaching shortage of saw logs .

Clear cutting where even the tree limbs are removed from the site greatly reduces the organic matter that new seedlings need to thrive. The limbs should be chipped, scattered and lime pellets spread at the same time with the chips. Fall Leaves from Town and City trees can be spread along with the chipped limbs.

The above, if accepted, will greatly reduce the waste biomass which may be a problem after the Pulp Mills and NSP stop operating the old inefficient biomass fueled power generation plants – while at the same time hasten the growth of new forests .

Biodiversity Protection Orders must be applicable to all forest cuts if the Migratory Bird Act provisions are to be followed and should be applicable to both Crown and Private lands including forests. Farm hay harvesting can be excepted. Farm and Forest glyphosate spraying must be curtailed. There are other weed control methods that are less harmful and that don’t leave a residual in the cereal or oil seed crop .

Having read the proposed act it appears that the writer(s) have never owned a forest lot or any other land that they saw potential in and were proud of. They forgot that owners must limit the trespass of people on those lands due to liability if the trespasser somehow hurts themselves. A waiver must first be signed by anyone wanting to trespass and that includes government employees.

The Province must be the first to lead on protecting biodiversity among birds, animals, fish and plants before they start telling us what to do on our Private lands. Most Private land owners resist clear cutting and harvesting while the land is wet and gets damaged easily. Many understand selection harvesting and are today using smaller harvesters that allow this. I can show anyone interested forest lots that were selection harvested by a forest Co-op where trees are thinned and allowed a better chance of seasonal growth. They leave a growing forest for future selection harvesting. Brush and limbs are left to add organic matter for the trees left to grow.

Clearcut on Crown land, Halifax Co., 2016

Recently there has been a visitor to Nova Scotia from a country in the EU that is closely aligned with the FSC rating agency. This person was appalled by the harvesting methods allowed here. One wonders what this report will do for lumber sales when it is made known throughout the EU. Saw Mills that are accepting logs from a clear cut off Crown lands and some from Private lands are running the risk of being shut out of the EU markets. Selling our good logs as chips and biomass to EU buyers isn’t a good use of our forests .

When the old inefficient and polluting biomass boilers/furnaces currently operated by the Pulp mills and by NSP are finally closed our sawmills can get away from the 45/55 rule they presently follow upon instruction from the pulp mills and NSP. We have written about what the transition will look like and shown them what the newer industrial bandsaw mills look like. Last month I visited one of these manufacturers in Ontario who told me that his production is sold for the rest of this year. Others are making the transition to more productive sawmills while we tread water and procrastinate – so to speak .

Chip prices and biomass prices are very low compared to dimension lumber prices. Why do some persist going along with these low value products while others have already changed? Transition of the industry in the forest and at the sawmills serves to better protect biodiversity and results in an increase of GDP in the Province.

Community Energy Co-ops help with the transition as they use very efficient boilers fueled by real biomass from real waste wood. These Co-ops also have solar energy panel fields nearby as well as one or more wind turbines. They also ensure the efficiency is part of the solution. Spending on efficiency is less expensive than manufacturing energy that is being wasted. We have examples to look to in Summerside, PEI and Antogonish and Berwick in Nova Scotia. Dalhousie University Bible Hill Campus has made great progress yet has to now look at energy storage to reach better efficiency. All this technology is now available .
(Don included a brochure on one of the many very efficient wood fueled boilers now available to anyone via Purchase or Lease)

Transition benefits biodiversity and creates Jobs in the Renewables industry as well as in Forestry. Let’s stop buying fossil fuels for heating spaces and water and instead buy fuel wood from responsible forest lot owners. Unfortunately our Government isn’t one of the responsible harvesters of forests. Especially when they allow the harvesting of Old Growth Hardwoods and Clear cutting and export of logs as chips, all while ignoring the wildlife living within .

Don Wilson , Member of HFC and an owner of an Acadian forest acreage.
Brule Point , N.S.


Thanks for the thoughtful words, DW.

On July 26, this e-mail went out to people who had participated in the consultations:

Good afternoon,
Thank you for participating in our regional Biodiversity Act Consultation sessions and/or for providing your input to us online at

A reminder that input received by July 29th will be included in the summary of what we heard from the five sessions we hosted over the last two weeks.

One of many cavity trees remaining at Corbett-Dalhousie Lakes forest, June 15, 2019

As promised, please find the presentation deck from the consultation sessions, as well information package already circulated by email, posted online here:

We welcome and appreciate your feedback.

Lands and Forestry

From the online post:

…Follow these links to the information package and presentation deck from these sessions.

A report on these sessions will be released by August 12.

More Links

Lands and Forestry/Biodiversity

On March 14, 2019, the Minister of Lands and Forestry introduced an Act to Provide for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in Nova Scotia in the legislature. The Biodiversity Council, established on May 22, 2018, helped craft this new legislation for the province that will enable Nova Scotia to improve the conservation and sustainable use of wild species and ecosystems in flexible and adaptive ways, address legislative gaps and manage emerging risks.
For additional information, you can find the proposed Act on the Nova Scotia Legislature website
For additional information, refer to the Biodiversity Council’s Terms of Reference.

A Biodiversity Act for Nova Scotia AN OVERVIEW AND KEY RECOMMENDATIONS Mar 1, 2019
“This document was developed by Ecology Action Centre and East Coast
Environmental Law, with input from colleagues in the biodiversity
conservation and environmental law communities.”


The barred owl requires large trees for nesting. The 2nd Breeding Bird Atlas commented that “there appeared to be some decrease in western NS, potentially because forest harvesting has recently increased in that region.

Nova Scotia to become first province to regulate biodiversity
Michael Gorman · CBC News · Posted: Mar 14, 2019 “Bill aims to close gaps between Endangered Species Act, Wildlife Act and other legislation”.

Rushton says slow down on biodiversity bill
April 03, 2019 at 11:41 am . PC Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia delays new biodiversity legislation, saying more work required
By Global News Apr 12, 2019

The Nova Scotia government is delaying an act that would give it more powers to protect biodiversity, including wild animals, plants and water species.

The Liberal government had planned to pass the bill this session, saying it lacked the authority or regulatory powers it needs to manage the province’s biodiversity.

However, Lands and Forestry Minister Iain Rankin said Friday that the government recognizes the bill may require more work, and it’s being sent back to committee.

The legislation as written would have given the government broad scope to create regulations to help manage threats to rare ecosystems and better protect wildlife against invasive species.

Rankin says the bill will still pass during the current government’s mandate, but there will be more consultation with industry, private landowners and environmental groups.

Report says Nova Scotia not doing enough to protect biodiversity
Michael Gorman · CBC News · Posted: May 06, 2019


Bev Wigney depiction of “Super Canopy Trees” Mar 11, 2019

 Submission to the Biodiversity Act Consultation after reflecting on what transpired at the Caledonia session. By Bev Wigney (on Annapolis Royal & Area – Environment & Ecology, Public Facebook Group), July 25, 2019.

Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia
Info and signup on www “Extinction Rebellion Nova Scotia is part of an international effort that started in the UK in the fall of 2018 and has been established in over 56 countries. In NS we have been active since November and have groups in 7 communities…WE DEMAND: GOVERNMENTS TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT THE ECOLOGICAL CRISIS, WWII-SCALE CLIMATE MOBILIZATION FOR ZERO EMISSIONS & DRAWDOWN BY 2025, PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY TO OVERSEE THE CHANGES”.

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