Biodiversity Landscape Planning for Nova Scotia is being developed as part of the L&F Environmental Assessment Project 16Jun2020

EAs for Crown land forestry could calm some rough waters in NS, but until we have them, L&F should put a hold on or at least significantly restrict Crown land logging operations; or  implement a precautionary Biodiversity Landscape Plan.

Can EAs for forestry on Crown lands in NS ensure that planning for biodiversity conservation takes place on a landscape level  scale and put to rest public concern about Crown land forestry practices?  Image from NSFN post of Jan 8, 2019

Update June 19, 2020: A video of the presentation by Peter Duinker and the followup discussion is available on the YouTube channel for the Medway Community Forest Coop.
One of my bugs going back to pre-Independent Review days has been to do with the the Landscape Level impacts of forestry practices in NS on Biodiversity.

None of the initial set of projects laid out by L&F in response to the Lahey Recommendations (re: Post June 27, 2019) explicitly addressed the issue, but I assumed it would be covered under the Forest Management Guide Project as “A revised PTA process, expanded to include biodiversity values in forest management planning” was cited as a key deliverable.

So I was taken aback when, at the request of the Healthy Forest Coalition,  I attended  a  L&F hosted meeting on  Aug 20, 2019  to discuss the “proposed policy direction and associated revisions of the  FMG (Forest Management Guide)”  and there was no mention of landscape level planning for biodiversity conservation. I asked about it and was told “The department is aware of that need..and a pilot project was instituted a few years ago in Eastern NS in collaboration with Port Hawkesbury Paper”, but they couldn’t provide any details. They made no mention of the “the first Canadian Maritimes Ecological Connectivity Forum” which was held in April 2019. (That forum was opened by L&F Minister Rankin and a landscape planner from L&F was a co-organizer.)

So I concluded that Landscape Level Planning is “in a separate box at L&F and was not a matter of active discussion outside of the box.” I commented further and in some detail on the topic in several subsequent posts (Sep 26, 2019, Dev 14, 2019 and Mar 16, 2020).

Click on image to go to MCFC page; here to view a related post on NSFN

So it was a surprise – a pleasant one – when today I attended (virtually) Prof Peter Duinker’s webinar presentation to the Medway Community Forest Coop on The Why and How of Environmental Assessment of Forest Management on Public Land and learned in response to a question I asked that Biodiversity Landscape planning for Nova Scotia Lands & Forestry is being developed as part of the Environmental Assessment Project.

My question: “Can you elaborate a bit on what is involved in a “Forest Stewardship Plan” There seems to be a lot of overlap with other projects (e,g Old Forest);  is it the main venue for Biodiversity Landscape Planning?”

Peter Duinker’s response: “Yes it is. We have been having lots of conversations about this in the various teams with the people I am involved with and it seems the FSP [Forest Stewardship Plan] should become the major vehicle by which the public can be assured that landscape-scale concepts are attended to and looked after from a sustainability point of view… we have initiatives like the Old Forest Policy renewal which is dedicated to Old Forests… Outcomes based forestry looking at ways to encourage professional creativity in meeting the objectives of forest management…the central piece of the FSP is to put an onus on the land manager who is the license holder to deliver on a wide spectrum of the public’s forest values in the implementation of the whole suite of activities…really the FSP, at the same time as the Silviculture Guide for the Ecological Matrix [the new name for the Forest Management Guide], the two of them in tandem will be the major implementation instruments to ensure that forest management is going in a direction that the people of NS feel comfortable with”

So this is good news and I hope it all goes well and achieves the vision PD portrayed.

I do have a few concerns, some of which I raised in the question period for the webinar.

One was  “whether the EA would apply to HPF [High Production Forestry].

PD’s response: “That’s unknown to me, however it would seem reasonable that it would be… I don’t know where the province is going with its thinking on the spatial allocation of HPF, but presumably in at least the larger commercially oriented FULA areas, the big licenses, there would be territory allocated to HPF along with the rest of the territory allocated to the ecological matrix, so presumably the FSP for the entire license area would include the HPF and EM areas… and the EA would apply to the whole package”

Another question: “How do you see the timeline for the EAs unfolding and how does that relate to times for HPF, Ecological Forestry/Matrix and Old Forest projects?

PD’s response: I can’t be sure… except to say that Lahey’s Recommendation said that before any license is created or renewed that the EA process should be applied… I am not privy to the Government’s intended schedule for implementation of a new EA process other than to say it can’t be started until a regulatory framework is in place and the Guide to preparing Forest Stewardship Plans is in place and approved, then it could proceed, whether that’s ahead of or behind some of the other initiatives like the settling of the HPF thing, the Outcomes-based Forestry thing, the Old Forest Policy, the Silvicultural Guide for the Ecological Matrix..I am not sure if those are all supposed to dovetail into some sort of grand plan over the next couple of years.

So… we cannot be assured that the HPF component will be subject to the same EA process, and we do not know how these things will all dovetail together “over the next couple of years”.

Ouch: the next couple of years. If we continue on the same tack we are on now, that means more years of the same-old, same-old (proposed harvests are posted on the HPMV, citizens express concerns, usually without avail, and frustration grows). That would further extend  widespread frustration expressed about Crown land forestry.  For some of us, that goes back to and before 2010 and  the Natural Resources Strategy; and its now approaching two years since the Lahey Report – the second attempt in recent years to fundamentally reform how Crown land forestry is conducted in NS –  was submitted (Aug, 2018).

I, and I think many others, had expected there would be some hold on Crown land logging until the Lahey Recommendations are actually implemented – and as Peter Duinker said, that was  also Lahey’s expectation (PD: “Lahey’s Recommendation said that before any license is created or renewed that the EA process should be applied”).

I guess L&F decided that restriction should not apply to one year renewals, the second one of which runs to July 31, 2020 (view post Oct 8, 2019; the first renewal post-Lahey Report was kept under covers.)

The 20-Year Forest Stewardship Planning Guide

After the webinar, I wrote Tom Soehl, the L&F Team leader for the EA Project and asked if he could “provide an update on who is involved in the EA Project, re ” Experts Involved • To be determined (Request for Proposals to develop a 20-Year Forest Stewardship Planning Guide underway)”; also if the “timelines [in the current description] still apply –
• Spring/Summer 2020: Stakeholder consultations
• Fall/Winter 2020: Target project completion”

Tom Soehl’s response:

“NorthWinds was selected to lead the work on the Guide as a result of the RFP. The project lead is Triin Hart and her team includes Laird VanDamme, Rike Burkhart, Diane Roddy, Peter Duinker and Kate Turner.

The goal is still to have the project completed this year. At this point, it is looking like stakeholder consultations would probably happen August/September.

Here is some info I have gleaned on the team members for development of the 20-Year Forest Stewardship Planning Guide

Triin Hart is a Principal/Senior Ecologist with Northwinds, a PhD who “specializes in natural resource policy analysis, landscape ecology, Species at Risk, emulating natural disturbances, and development of natural landscape condition templates and analyses of ecological implications of planned management activities.”

Laird VanDamme was a member of the Expert Advisory group to the Independent Review, which lists his credentials as ” RPF, senior partner, KBM Resources Group, and external adjunct professor, Natural Resources Management, Lakehead University”

Diane Roddy, (from Linkedin,com) is Principal at Roddy Resources Inc.; she served as manager Canadian Forest Lands Sustainability & Stewardship at Weyerhaeuser Canada (2001-2007)

Rike Burkhardt, M.F.C., R.P.F. (from Linkedin,com) Environmental Consultant at Various Companies, Ontario, Canada with a degree in Master of Forest Conservation from U of T (2000)

Peter Duinker is a Professor Emeritus in Dalhousie’s School of Resource and Environmental Studies and a principal in Sylveritas Ltd. He was a member of the panel of Expert Advisors to the Independent (Lahey) Review and he is the one Expert involved in the L&F Ecological Forestry OLD FOREST Project, a controversial file.

Kate Turner is a principal in “Sylveritas Ltd. [which] was formed in 2014 as a vehicle for consulting and research collaboration between Peter Duinker and Kate Turner. In the domains of resource and environmental management and policy, Peter is a senior academic and scholar, and Kate is a junior practitioner.” (View more at

I am  pleased to learn that a PhD level landscape specialist is involved in this project and is the Team Lead.

Also I am pleased to finally  see Biodiversity Landscape Planning as an explicit component of L&F’s response to the Lahey Recommendations.   I sincerely hope that the EAs  resolve major issues related to public trust as PD envisages.

While we wait for the EAs

Given the somewhat vague timeline for implementation of Crown land forestry EAs, it would seem appropriate for L&F to put a hold on or at least significantly restrict logging operations in the meantime; or  to implement a precautionary Biodiversity Landscape Plan. To do so would also be consistent with the Lahey Recommendations, and would calm some rough waters.

Separately, I have asked L&F if the RFP for the “20-Year Forest Stewardship Planning Guide” can be released to the public.

Regardless, it would be nice to see a detailed update on the EA project*, especially given the perspective expressed by P.D. that it is critical to L&F gaining more public trust.
*It was first listed on L&F’s Ecological Forestry page only in 2020; the current PDF document is dated March 18, 2020.

Some related posts

Experiencing serenity and sadness in the intervale forests of Nova Scotia 16May2020
Posted on May 16, 2020

Shelly Hipson: Concerns about how Crown lands will be designated for High Production Forestry in Nova Scotia 11May 2020
Posted on May 11, 2020

Why we need a Precautionary Biodiversity Landscape Plan for Nova Scotia 16Mar2020
Posted on March 16, 2020

Moving Beyond Lahey: can Nova Scotia participate in a “Global Deal for Nature”? 14Dec2019
Posted on December 14, 2019

Nova Scotia’s Old Growth Ground Zero: the Corbett Lake Old Hardwood Forest 17July2019
Posted on July 17, 2019

Biodiverse Southwest Nova Scotia at Risk
Posted on October 29, 2018

Bev Wigney On Forest Roads in Nova Scotia 29May2019
Posted on May 29, 2019

Nova Scotia Healthy Forest Coalition: The Story of the Corbett Lake Affair and the Erosion of Trust in the Public Process
Posted on January 6, 2019

A WestFor 5 year plan emerges in Shelburne
Posted on January 5, 2019

Halifax Green Network Plan released June 21, 2018 puts Landscape Level Planning for Halifax well ahead of the province as a whole
Posted on June 23, 2018

Science issues and lack of landscape/watershed level planning by Nova Scotia DNR limit what can be achieved through forest certification
Posted on February 22, 2018

Loon Lake clearcuts continue, illustrate lack of landscape level planning
Posted on February 11, 2018

Clearcut Nova Scotia continued..4July2017 & highgrading at the landscape level
Posted on July 6, 2017

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