Nova Scotia L&F’s response to the Lahey recommendations has been to “Talk and Log, Study and Log, Research and Consider Policy Changes but Continue to Log” 14Aug2020

Raymond Plourde (EAC Photo)

So said Raymond Plourde on Information Morning in the second of two interviews with Nova Scotians discussing NS forestry as we approach the second anniversary of Lahey report.

Plourde says it’s feeling more and more like the response (or lack of response) that followed the Natural Resources Strategy recommendations of 2010.

View/Listen to Activists concerned with delays in implementing Lahey Report recommendations (Information Morning interview with Raymond Plourde on Aug 11, 2020) or read an “Abbreviated Transcript” of the interview below.

The first interview, on Aug 10, 2020, was with Shelly Hipson in SW Nova Scotia – Listen to the archived CBC interview/view related NSFN Post: Two years after the Lahey Report, Nova Scotians are increasingly “saddened, frustrated and angry at what they see in the woods 13Aug2020

View L&F’s Ecological Forestry webpage for the Talk, Study, Research and Consider Policy Changes  part.

View L&F’s Harvest Operation Maps page for the logging part.


CBC. According to our guest there has been very little progress in actually implementing the Lahey recommendations. Raymond Plourde is the Wilderness Coordinator at the Ecology Action Centre. So the last time you spoke on this show in June of 2019, you were pretty optimistic with the provinces progress in moving towards Ecological Forestry. So we are now 2 years out from the Lahey Report, how are feeling now?

RP: A little less optimistic honestly. There has been a lot of good work done in the background. Preparatory work, research work… there were 45 recommendations from the Lahey Report, the province has accepted the report and said they will implement them. The department chose 9 priorities out of 45, leaving a lot of them to be dealt with later and has been working with them ever since and… they have been pretty good on collaboration and transparency and engaging stakeholders…on various pieces but none of it has yet to any recognizble change on the ground and 100s and 100s of forest harvesting allocations for Crown land have been given out since then and they are all based on the old model of clearcutting. So really on the ground there has not been any change at all except they leave a little bit more trees behind on their clearcuts.

CBC: How much do they leave behind?

RP: 10-30% Retention is what the industry calls it. It is not at all what Lahey’s report has promised,, he said we need we have too much clearcutting and we need to move towards a form of uneven-aged, multi-aged management which is more in line with the Acadian Forest for the majority of Crown lands

But where we are really worried, is in the so called Matrix Lands where so far what we have seen is a reluctance to really increase the so-called retention of trees…they still seem to be focussed on a way to clearcut but not as bad; they have not yet embraced fully the notion of light touch, multi-aged, multi-species, uneven-aged management.

CBC: You are on the Advisory Committee tasked with implementing the Lahey Report, so what can you tell us, why has it been 2 years and very little has been implemented.?

RP: I am not exactly sure, there seems to be a bit of a tug of war with some of the senior forestry guys in the department who come from large pulp mill backgrounds and seem to want to protect the industry from a shrinking wood supply… but the Lahey Report clearly identified that in implementing the Triad system, an anticipated 20% or so less wood flowing from Crown lands would occur and there still seems to be a reluctance in the department to accept that, they still think they can actually increase wood supply while still reducing clearcutting and that doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense….

NSDNR Minister MacDonell at rally in 2010: “There’s gonna be a reduction in clearcutting in Nova Scotia.” View video Within months of that statement Premier Dexter shifted MacDonell to another Dept. Read more

It reminds me a lot of the Natural Resources Strategy of ten years ago when a large independent study was done, it was three years, lots of consultation with stakeholders and the public and a promise was made to a series of things including most significantly a 50% reduction in clearcutting. Then for 5 years there were lots of reports about all of the great work done behind the scenes by the department and after the 5 year mark they walked away from those commitments…they did not implement a reduction of 50% and we have had a another decade of clearcutting…

I am starting to get worried we are heading down that same path talk and log, study and log, research and consider policy changes but continue to log under the old rules and that’s what’s happening. We still have as much clearcutting as ever with a small increase the trees left behind.

CBC: Take me back to the report.. in bullets what are the greatest priorities coming out of that report?

RP: A reduction in the amount of trees that are cut on Crown land and How they are cut. They need to shift from an industrial extraction focus to a Healthy Ecosystem focus and they really need to get some new harvesting guidelines, in place, regulations in place soon and if it’s going to take longer they need to bring in some new interim management for the management of the so-called Matrix Lands on Crown lands so they are not clearcut in the meantime

If we are talking another year from now, 2 years, 5 years, before we get to implementation, what’s going to be left? I fear that some of the best last stands on Crown land are being targeted for clearcutting before these new regs come c in whenever they finally do.

CBC: Do you think we need some legislated implementation of this report?

RP: Absolutely, in fact the Lahey Report says there are a number of changes to legislation in the Forest Act, the Crown Lands Act and elsewhere that need to be done to out all of the other values that people have for forests on an equal footing with harvesting. Right now the legislation reflects a 1980s industrial focus on endless wood supply for industry with no real provisions for biodiversity or tourism values and others things…so he describes it in his report as a fundamental piece to make the changes in legislation.

That’s something we have been saying should have been prepared almost from Day 1 and certainly two years later should be ready for this upcoming fall sitting because it is so foundational it fundamentally changes the focus of the department, if the legislation is not changed, then the departments fundamental underpinnings legislation-wise direct them to stay on the 1980s industrial over-harvesting focus instead of the new ecosystem focus as recommended in the LR…

CBC: If we have a fall session of the legislature, we should talk about this again.

Thx, Raymond Plourde

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